Robert Musil, a writer and novelist, author of “The Man Without Qualities“, was a prolific writer of diaries and letters. He viewed the diary as complementary to his work as a writer, and thought of how it fitted his artistic and political vision. The diary as a collection of ideas, projects, secrets. As a code to interpret the work of the novelist after his passing. As a semiotic excercise.
A couple of weeks ago I tried to retrieve an important e-mail that I wrote using my e-mail account @ Yahoo! It was not possible. Yahoo! had somehow cancelled or deactivated my account because I had not used it for a while (I switched to Gmail some time ago). The email, and the important text that it contained, is lost or orphaned in cyberspace. That event started me thinking of Musil and of the act of disseminating our thoughts to a medium not entirely controlled by oneself.
Think email, IM, blogs, wikis, twitter, dopplr, Facebook, etc., etc. It may seem that you are in control of the media, that you own yor account and your information. But is that really so? There are a lot of e-calamities that can happen, to name a few: you lose your account (my case), the servers crash and no DRP is in place, the company goes out of business, you are a victim of vandalism. Disaster can be only a step away !
Questions: Are you interested in keeping a copy of all your utterances (however irrelevant) for posterity ? Do you own you copy ? Do you have a backup ? I for my part would like to have my texts survive in some form. Maybe not all of them, but that is not the point. The point is that what you thought or wrote is a reflection of your life and interests. A snapshot that contains more than the information coded in writing (when you collate it with time, place and events). Many of the forms of writing a diary today are done online (just now for example). And that means that your work is disseminated and decoupled from you, and that it may be in danger of no making it for many years alive. We should find out a way to have our diaries restored to us for keeping safe. I have no real solution now, maybe I should have a print out of everything.