During a particularly stressful period in the mid 1990’s I developed a condition which looked like the beginning of shingles. The usual course of events would have been to ring Mum and ask if I had had chicken pox. However, Mum had died a few months before and that option was no longer available.
In thinking about this problem, I realised that to keep track of issues like this I needed a diary – a lifelong diary, that I could check what had happened in the past. A little more thought and I realised that there were many other events that I had forgotten or had hazy memories that could have been fixed by an oft repeated saying from my Mum “The strongest memory is weaker than the palest ink”.
Memories of the first day at school, annual holidays in Mooloolaba, medical concerns, a dear brother who had been struck down and hospitalised for 12 months with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, three sisters who all had many activities, and many Aunts and Uncles, Grandparents, Cousins, shop keepers, cub and scout leaders, pets (like the mighty and fearless Toby) who used to harass the local racehorses to the point where a police sergeant turned up one day with a rifle to put him down, but relented in the face of 5 crying children and Dad’s eloquent arguments about who owned the streets and how, may be, the dangerous horses needed to be locked away.
The memories flood back even as I write this but I often have an unease about various details that may not agree with my sister’s or others perception of events.
(There is now emerging research that our memories are often shaped by what we would like them to reflect, and are not as reliable as we think. See this article from The Conversation.)
That started me on the journey of creating a 100-year diary. It would start on the date of the birth of a child and run for a 100 years. At this stage, the concept was a paper based analogue version on parchment paper and bound in a leather binder. Even at three months an A4 page with half the page for comments this ran out to 400 pages. Add extra pages for medical issues, photos, memorabilia and leather binders the whole project died under its own weight and cost.
Jump forward 20 years and the internet has grown out of sight, storing data in the cloud became a reality, apps, were the flavour of the year and costs had become manageable. Also, being 20 years older and hopefully a little wiser the importance of family really hits home. With grandchildren arriving and growing to build those very special relationships we can have and not to overlook the very special relationships Aunts and Uncles can have with nephews and nieces and the friendships with cousins and family friends. If we can enhance the togetherness of more families in a cost-effective way with this idea, we will be well satisfied.
The purpose of the LifeLongDiary project is to create a way for an individual or a family to permanently record all the events and connections of their lives. The purpose is very different from current Social Media in that the intent is to keep this information private and only ever shared with family and close friends. It is Family Media and is designed to enhance and enrich family bonds. A Family Tree is included to reinforce the power and love of extended and blended families and recognises that ultimately, all we have is family.
A birth date is entered into the template on the website which begins the creation of a LifeLongDiary and invites the beginning of recording of events in words, pictures and videos along with the date location and description of the event and participants. This is usually the start of a LifeLongDiary for an individual and a recording of events in their lives but it is also used to start a record for a child, grandchild or other relation.
At this stage the LifeLongDiary is usually started by the mother, father, grandparent, uncle or aunt and transferred to the child at an agreed time.
The author of the LifeLongDiary controls access and input to the diary but they can invite (and remove) additional people to view and or comment on the content. It is not possible to make the site 'public' to ensure confidentiality between family members and to reduce data breaches.
The original indigenous inhabitants of this great country have managed to retain 40,000+ years of their history through sharing the stories of the 'dreaming' passed down from generation to generation in a structured and ceremonial way and supported by their art and corroborees.
The challenge for our generation is to replicate this skill with our own 'tribe' assisted by current and developing technology.
Many generations from now our descendants will want to know more about us, how we lived and worked in what was a rapidly changing world with computers, the World Wide Web and social media enabling disruption of many traditional ways of doing things. Many of us have observed the rise of email, SMS, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Google, CD’s, DVD’s, and many other applications.
We have also observed the demise of the steam train, the kerosene lantern, the typewriter, the teletext, the fax machine, the pager, the Filofax, the letter, Encyclopedias, paper Maps, carbon paper, cheque books, Letraset, the Gestetner, the overhead projector and many others, all requiring behavioural change in every level of business, industry, education, medicine and society in general. In their place, we have had a steep learning curve getting our heads around the new tools, smartphones, tablets, iPads, notebooks, chromebooks, laptops, Kindles and other forms of computers, Streaming TV and ‘Cloud storage’.
Not to mention the browsers, the cloud, the Internet of Things, printers and scanners, modems, Wi-Fi, the Ethernet, viruses, malware, encryption, passwords, privacy issues, firewalls, ISP’s, Wikipedia and all manner of new words and abbreviations.
Climate change, Global Warming, Solar and Renewable Power, Mass migration, Electric cars and all of the above are going to be of interest to our descendants. Record them all for posterity in your own Life Long Diary. Our descendants will love us for it. Not so Ancestry.com.