whistlestop caboose

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www.zidao.com Apprentice harmonizer, for sheer fun. Journeywoman writer, for work and pleasure. Starting point was Iowa, current stopping point on this journey is Switzerland, with frequent pauses around the world to watch and listen to the crowd, and occasionally make comments.

Tulips 2006 for Gran ellengwallace's Tulips 2006 for Gran photoset

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Digital time capsules

I've been reflecting, for a writing class, on the difference between a diary and an unpublished/unedited autobiography. Both are records of our lives and I suspect that if asked to answer without first reflecting, most people would say the first is a record of thoughts and the second a record of events. Each, when written well, contains elements of both. We might simply define them as written records of our lives.

Are blogs diaries, as they are so often labelled? Some are more like forums on particular topics but are the others used primarily to record our thoughts, our mental drift?

What about the role of photos then? Photos provide a good record of our lives and they can be used to richly illustrate our thoughts, as well as events.

I thinkwe've moved into the era of digital autobiographies, where image + text are now the components of diaries, and for the first time we can really interweave them. Some people prefer more text, others more photos. I like them best blended. As a writer, I tend to think of autobiography first in terms of words, with photos to back them up.

I've decided to start "writing" a digital images autobiography, as a means of seeing my life through another angle of the prism. On Flickr, I've just set up a set of photos called "Time capsules" where I've put five photos to start, and I will keep adding to them. The photos are objects from my life, all of which have some significance, and which trigger memories. Further down the line I will add text, I'm sure. For now, looking back comes first.

The first thing I've learned from doing this is how rarely I photograph durable rather than ephemeral objects - there are very few in my files, I'm surprised to discover.

I would love to see others starting digital time capsules, and sharing them.


Anonymous maki said...

Ellen, probably the best known 'digital time capsule' site of the kind you describe is Ten Years Of My Life, a photo journal by Matt Haughey (famous for Metafilter amongst other things. He also has a regular blog which is mostly writing. His aim on the ten years site is to take a picture every day from his 30th birthday on.

5:57 PM  
Blogger whistlestop caboose said...

Maki, thanks for these great links. The blogging learning curve feels less steep when you get good ideas from people who have been here before.

5:10 PM  

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