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A diary 1975 to the present day - with gaps

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 23 Oct 2011, 07:53

I gave up buying the Guardian on Saturday after a decade or more of doing so in favour of receiving the New Scientist every week; it is simple.

Too much that I read in the paper I know already and the Colour supplement's target audience is the bottom of the bin.

I am rewarded this week with

  • a) the news that Google have digitised 5 million books
  • b) a piece on blogging 'Dear e-diary ... '

This ought to be how anyone who blog begins their entry, 'dear diary;' blogging sounds like something Morris Dancer's do in slippers after hours behind the pub.

Alun Anderson passess through the history of the diary with some clumsy thoughts on such things becoming popular gifts in the 1820s and the number of diaries inviting us to buy them at this time of year on supermarket shelves - actually I find the Academic diary is more popular in late August.

Never mind

In one respect he is right; along with New Year's resolutions, keeping a diary from January 1st is up there.

Of course, we all decide to do this on the 5th or 6th so have to invent an entry or three or four for the previous days. I've just been looking on shelves where old diaries are stored ... (this stuff gets an outing once or twice a decade). For reasons suggested above, some of the first few days of the New Year draw a blank, though I appear to have an unbroken record for the 5th and 6th of January since 1976. (I should add that the diary record over 34 years has about 13 years of blanks, so I'm not such an obsessive.

I have an unbroken run from 1983 to 1987 and 1978-1982 are complete, but largely little more than a five liner in a Five Year diary.

September 1979 is interesting though, short of the technology, I just about achieved what Gordon Bell, a senior researcher at Microsoft is up to ... recording absolutely everything that ever happens to him with a digital camera strung around his neck. (I trust he'll call it albatross).

We've seen how relentlessly dull TV manufatured life can be from Big Brother, why will Gordon's life be any better, or will the presence of the digital recorder prompt him into doing something 'worth recording,' i.e. mucking up any science he may think is going on.

What I did, not knowing for how long I'd do it, was to open the parameters of my diary page entries, from five lines every day, to an A4 sheet (no more, never missed), to as much as it could take; it took a couple of hours to write every night, which would of course lead to that vital practice of reflecting on the process of writing itself. That and every bust ticket into town (Newcastlte), the Commodores ?! Tuxedo Junction. And the 'swimming baths.' (sic). A play at the Gulbenkien. Godspell at the Theatre Royal. A Mars Bar for 3p.

Totall Recall: How the e-memory revolution will change everything.

No it won't.

All the years I Twittered into a Five Year diary (about 60 words), my aim was to put in something that would remind me what happend that exact day; I'm forever staggered how I've achieved this on very little indeed. It requires a key, not the detail, just an Alice in Wonderland key that opens up the rest of it.

This is what Microsoft should be thinking about, not oceans of everything, but the meaningful flotsam and jetsam, that and the person saying what they think and feel about what is going on. Find me the third-party device that can record thoughts, feelings and dreams - it's a thing of fiction.

This item is written by the former editor-in-chief of the New Scientist, Alun Anderson.

It amuses me to see that the new New Scientist editor-in-chief is Roger Highfield. I don't suppose he can tell me what we ate when I had dinner with him in November 1984 in Wood Green (give me a sec) ... I can. And curiouser, and curiouser, though there's not a jot recorded on what we spoke about that night, I've an inkling I could share.

It is empowering to know I can ferret around in an old diary for ten minutes to get these answers; doing the same with some 16000 blog entries saves me a few moments. Away from my desk, diaries or the Internet however, I'm sure that all this ferreting around in the past has kept these memories accessible.

Gordon Bell will eventually unconver some patterns 'you would never have gleaned unaided;' I feel I'm ahead of the Mircosoft game.

On verra.

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