A Diary for the Digital Age

A Diary for the Digital Age

Do you still have your baby book? I have mine and it’s full of the most delightful information. It reminds me who my God-parents were, what gifts I received and who gave them. It documents things like my first smile, first tooth and first words. It’s a beautiful book full of illustrations, created in the style of the 1950s. While it does have a lot of interesting information about my early days,…

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A Diary for the Digital Age

Do you still have your baby book? I have mine and it’s full of the most delightful information. It reminds me who my God-parents were, what gifts I received and who gave them. It documents things like my first smile, first tooth and first words. It’s a beautiful book full of illustrations, created in the style of the 1950s.

While it does have a lot of interesting information about my early days, it’s still quite sparse. New moms – even the stay-at-home ones – are much too busy to spend their days focused on a baby book (or multiple baby books as the family grows). What new moms need these days are smart phones with cameras – something that is handy at all times to capture the magic moments of babyhood. Combine that with some amazing apps and it’s easy to capture and share all kinds of family events. That’s all fine and dandy, but how do you keep all this information for future generations to enjoy?

This is where a digital journal can shine. Apps like Diaro [iOS & Android – $0.00 and $3.99 pro version] and Day One [Mac & iOS free or premium subscription] make it easy to capture, organize and share entries. These apps automatically add date, time and location to each entry along with tags to keep them organized. Want pictures in your journal entry? No problem! Take your pics from the app or import them from your photos app.

Journal entry in Day One
Journal entry in Day One

Journal entries like this one can be easily shared with others via email, text message or posted to a Tumblr blog.

The Day One app has a very useful advantage over most other journaling apps. It takes advantage of the Markdown standard for formatting. This means that your journal entries are “future proof”. That means that long after this program is obsolete, the journal entries you create will still be readable. To learn more about Markdown see the article Writing for the Future.

Another interesting app, Momento [iOS free and premium options] for the iPhone, gives you the ability to quickly take notes and include photos taken with the iPhone. It also imports content from a number of social media sites (Facebook, Flickr, Foursquare, YouTube and more) so you can automatically “archive” all that content without duplicating your efforts. Although it doesn’t have a desktop version, there is a text/photo export option available.

Posthaven family blog
A Posthaven family blog

A baby or family blog is another great way to capture and share special moments. Platforms like Posthaven ($5.00/mo) and Tumblr (free) make it easy to post photos, video and journal entries from your phone (or desktop) – usually as simple as sending an email. In addition, they offer the ability to automatically forward those posts to social sites like Facebook and Twitter. Tumblr offers free apps for iOS and Android devices to post content, follow and read content from other Tumblrs and comment on interesting posts. With Posthaven, the not-so-techie members of the family can be set up as email subscribers to receive updates via email. Commenting is as easy as replying to the posted message. Because they are so user friendly, these blog platforms are great ways for all members of the family to participate – both as commenters and as contributors.

Another advantage of a family blog is privacy. While posting information about family members – especially children – in social networks is easy, it is also dangerous. Posting names and birthdates on Facebook is an invitation for identity theft. It is also giving stalkers information about your children that they can use to convince a child they are not strangers. Both Tumblr and Posthaven offer private sites visible only to invited members.

These aren’t the only options available either. Visit your app store and see for yourself that there’s more than one way to capture, save and share those special family moments. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Journaling in a Digital World

Journaling in a Digital World …

Having even a transcription of an ancestor’s personal journal is a blessing to any family historian. It gives us a picture of the person and the world surrounding him that no amount of vital records can provide. Should we also have letters and photos along with the journal, ecstasy ensues.

Considering how precious we find these gifts from the past, what are we leaving for future generations?…

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Journaling in a Digital World

Having even a transcription of an ancestor’s personal journal is a blessing to any family historian. It gives us a picture of the person and the world surrounding him that no amount of vital records can provide. Should we also have letters and photos along with the journal, ecstasy ensues.

Considering how precious we find these gifts from the past, what are we leaving for future generations? Today’s technology allows us to easily capture not only words and photos, but also audio and video. And, since so many of us are carrying camera phones with us at all times, there’s no excuse for missing the magic moments in our family’s lives. The iPhone, iPod Touch and many Android phones include cameras that shoot both photos and video and there are many journaling apps available to capture and preserve the events of our lives – both the normal, everyday things and the very special ones.

We are already sharing much of these events as status updates, photos and videos posted to Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites. This may be a great way to keep in touch with family and friends, but not the best place to document your world for future generations. Fortunately apps coming on the market today do just that – capture your social networking content into a personal journal. One good example is the Momento app [iPhone – $1.99]. It not only gives you a platform to enter your thoughts and photos, but you can also connect it to your favorite social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Swarm – Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo and LastFM coming soon) to automatically pull in your status/activity there. Your content can be set for automatic backup to iCloud. My first thought was this was carrying things a bit far, but I quickly realized the merits of the idea. In today’s busy world, the less duplication of effort involved in documenting our days, the more likely it is we’ll actually do it. And, having an app like this on a small device that’s always nearby means we’ll be able to capture the sights and sounds of those moments.

Several journal apps also have desktop versions allowing us to synchronize and archive journaling content safely. I use Day One [iOS – $4.99 & Mac – $9.99]. I have it on my iPhone to capture moments as they happen and on my iPad and Mac to write longer stories documenting my family – past and present. Day One also saves entries on iCloud so they are accessible on any of my devices. Entries are organized by date, but also supports tags which can be used to organize your content by topic so you can select, display and export selected entries.

Today’s digital journals may not be as attractive as the leather-bound journals of old, but they will capture a much broader picture of our lives. A journal is a personal thing and the first step is finding a journal app that fits your style. It might be a desktop app or even a “notebook” on your mobile device. Whatever it is, it will become a treasure for future generations. You just need to get started!

21st Century Journaling

Having even a transcription of an ancestor’s personal journal is a blessing to any family historian. It gives us a picture of the person and the world surrounding him that no amount of vital records can provide. Should we also have letters and photos along with the journal, ecstasy ensues.

DayOneMac201.png

Day One for Mac – capturing the stories behind special Christmas decorations.

Considering how precious we…

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