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As for me and my house, we shall hug the trees.

Within the last month, I have come across two very retro product lines.

Here's the first one: LobotoME.

And here's the second: The 10-year journal.

I actually bought the LobotoMe product linked above, to keep track of my so-called diet and exercise routine (they had a special on Groupon).  It's cute, but I'm underwhelmed.  The 10-year journal is, I admit, fascinating to think about.

There are many, many (many) people out there who much prefer written communications to reside in a paper environment. I understand this. There's something compelling about paper, for both reading and writing.
Julia Cameron, creator of The Artist's Way, recommends Morning Pages in longhand as a therapeutic technique. I tried it about 10 years ago and am more or less as messed up now as I was then.  My arthritis is worse, too, which is why I rarely assault the world with my penmanship anymore. Once in a great while (like when I'm traveling or the computer is down), I'll resort to a handwritten journal, and I have many years' worth of "Dear" diaries and day planners that are important enough to keep on their own shelf in chronological order.  Truthfully, this quirk originated with some silly book I read in my teens, where a visitor to an old mansion is browsing aimlessly in a library full of leather-bound volumes and "chances upon" a collection of diaries tucked in with the novels and encyclopediae.  Sure, I fantasize about someone curling up in front of a fire with some Earl Grey tea and my journals (which this unnamed person probably tosses into the fire before calling it a night), but for real-life purposes, the computer is by far the quickest and most efficient means (for me, at least) of organizing the days, months and years.

For reading, too: While I'm increasingly inclined to use the Internet for factual inquiry, I still prefer fiction in paper form, with turnable pages -- though the library is now my preferred source, mostly due to financial constraints, but also because I'm too picky about literature to want to keep much of what I read.  I have a few e-books on my computer but have not yet resorted to Kindles or Nooks.

But I still have sort of a problem with products that are aimed at drawing people away from the computer and back to reliance on paper, like the aforementioned items.  Whenever possible, for the purposes of keeping track of my life, I make an effort to get it done electronically.

If I haven't already mentioned Memiary, I want to first tip the hat to Kay (she of the Thinking Cap), who rightfully praised it in her blog a few years ago and turned me into an immediate devotee. I keep two Memiary pages: One for my personal notes and one for events at the office, such as various employees' first and last days on the job, power outages and anything else that might be of historical significance. Memiary is similar to Twitter: It's limited to more or less the same number of characters, so you can't go on and on, but you can still make your point.  Hashtags are useful there, too.

With regard to the 10-year journal, I have devised something that works even better for me: I call it the Reverse Chronology, and it's done on an Excel spreadsheet. I simply add a row for every year of my life, and when the spirit randomly moves me, every few months or so, I fill in the columns that say [x  years ago] on this day in [year] I was [years old] and [fill it in with whatever I remember most about that little slice of time]. It is very useful for putting things into perspective. I think we all have "things" that keep bothering us years and years later, when everyone else has forgotten them.  Noting a sticky moment on the spreadsheet and then seeing that it happened forty-five frackin' years ago for gawd's sake can take away its power over us and maybe even render it humorous.  Not unlike the "Riddikulus!" technique that Harry Potter and his classmates used to banish their Boggarts.

For more conventional chronologies, I transcribed the monthly Index pages from my many years' worth of Franklin-Covey planners to -- again -- an Excel spreadsheet, allowing one primary and one secondary category for each item.  After I stopped using Franklin planners, I started slacking off, but am slowly but surely bringing the Super Index, as I call it, up to date.

The last, most obvious, advantage to the non-paper mode of writing is its virtual indestructibility. Yeah, I know, everything you put on the Internet is forever, even if you want to delete it, and some evil entity out there is secretly collecting all this stuff to use against you in some Orwellian dystopia where -- well, you know. That's the pessimist's version. But y'know, I have enough to worry about. Dystopia will probably be a few decades late to my funeral. Meanwhile, among the things I don't want to worry about is the prospect of all those diaries, all those years of words, insights, musings, going up in flames or down in floodwaters. I've already had numerous occasions to search Evernote and Google Docs to come up with some obscure snippet of personal data that could otherwise have been lost to clutter or carelessness.

The clouds on the servers have saved me from the ones in my head, and will continue to do so. And the trees shall live long and prosper.



Comments

What a thoughtful and complete analysis of diarying. I've also come to rely on the computer to maintain my thoughts, not in small part due to the fact that I can no longer read my own writing.

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