I have kept a hand written journal since I was a kid. The old lady we went to the theater with told me to keep a journal. Her advice stuck with me. That moment, in Aunt Kay's hallway, was a life changing experience for me.
Today was another milestone in journalling for me. Today, I carefully re-read the last several volumes of my handwritten journal looking for underlined passage which represent subject headings. These underlined key words serve to provide a series of "hyper links" within the hand written journal. They make a paper book about as useful as an online tool. This is the solution that I've adopted to the computer geek's dilemma:
Should I keep a blog or a hand written journal?
My answer is: Keep a hand written journal with a thorough index. You can consult your notes using the index, and this will allow you to "grep dead trees". Most journal entries that I write are personal, semi-private, matters. Writing with a pen on paper allows me to "keep part of my life offline".
Hand writing notes allows a flexibility of description and illustration that I find impossible to get with a computer. It is too difficult, for me at least, to make drawings or type math quickly on computers. The interface of the computer gets in the way. To put it plainly -- writing on paper is relaxing compared to writing on a computer.
Computers were made for tabulating indices.
Paper, pen, and notebook work well together.
Pen, paper, notebook, and computer generated index work perfectly together.
Today, I hunted down the underlined subject keywords and carefully stowed them away in plain text files. Once everything was typed in, I had the following epic computing experience:
#look at the third volume $ cat ./date/date.3 2014-10-21: Morse code Python 2014-10-22: Sponge Problem #look at the local file structure $ tree ./ ./ ├── date │ ├── date.01 │ ├── date.02 │ ├── date.03 │ ├── date.04 │ ├── date.05 │ ├── date.06 │ ├── date.07 │ ├── date.08 │ ├── date.09 │ ├── date.10 │ ├── date.11 │ └── date.12 ├── date.all ├── journal.sh ├── subject.all └── subject-date.pl 1 directory, 16 files #run the indexer $ journal.sh Indexing all volumes. number of volumes 12 days with entries 513 number of references 5050 ./date.all distinct subjects referenced 2267 ./subject.all
"When I was a kid ..."
This current software setup is a long way from the early journals that I wrote in highschool. Roy MacDonald really helped me get started in journaling. He raised, with his own life, journaling to the level of a vocation. He was called to journal. Allow me to show you a broadsheet poster that Roy wrote:
Journals Are ... ... an important way of confronting the confusions of our world and the complexities of life. They are an assertion of our personal worth and individuality. ... open and available to everyone who can write a few words on paper and to everyone who wishes to consider this experience of living. ... often written in the heat of the moment, at the scene, and without reflection. They are the record of immediate experience and original feeling. ... natural resources which writers may store away for future use in prose or poetry. ... recordings of developing concepts, attitudes, ideas. They help to review our own progressions, changes, and patterns of behaviour. ... a source of stimulation for writers and are helpful in overcoming writing blocks. Often the basic recording of specific time and place details can generate other thoughts and recollections which encourage writing. ... useful in reviewing and reinforcing things we have learned and wish to remember. ... helpful in keeping us in touch with out ancesotrs and in projecting something of ourselves onward to future generations. ... miscellanies of things we find meaningful: a series of lines, verses, and quotations encoutered in our daily life. ... private worlds and secret places of our own where are free to be exactly who we are and to say exactly what we want to say. Roy N. MacDonald, 1981 To Parker, in friendship Roy, London Oct 28, 2010 I wish you good writing and a wonderful life.
I agree with everything Roy wrote, and more. He was the model journaller for me. I think that the importance of a private journal for research was first taught to me by Roy.
On the other hand, Derek Krickhan models perfectly the private computer journaller. He has a 'fancy typewriter' that we writes all his entries in to it. I warn him, every chance I get, to back them up. No one knows if they ever come out of the fancy typewriter.
Heru Sharpe got me started on rather "experimental" journalling. He is a hardcore Kabbalist, and takes notes about all sorts of things. I'm sure that there is a lot of fascinating poetry, reflection, and alchemy in his journal. He got me writing about my own "investigations".
My interests in recreational reading, computer programming, naturalism, indoor gardening, astronomy, foreign languages, and low complexity art all show up under various guises in my journal. There are a lot of low level tricks built in to how I mark my entries. By selecting subject keyphrases carefully, one can emulate tags, categories, timing. Using a pen one can handle multiple written languages, various fonts, math, figures, etc. You can glue in interesting bits of paper.
The sky is the limit with hand written, well structured, notebooks.
The photos are here for local reference.