Diary keeping has a lengthy and interesting origin. Leonardo da Vinci kept a diary but wrote his entries backward – in other words a mirror was required to decipher them. Inventions emerged from his writings that continue transforming our planet to this day. However, at the time, diary writing was for the most part a private endeavor. It was Samuel Pepys who kept the first diary best seller. Pepys was a Navy administrator for the Brits and he kept a personal diary that became very public. He titillated his 15th century readers with his clandestine love life and first hand experience of London’s Great Fire.
Two hundred odd years later, in 1913, the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung engaged in an epic battle with his unconscious mind in his Red Book. Jung’s diary allowed him to deal with the visions and voices he was experiencing. Often he worried privately that he was going mad. Over a period of sixteen years his diary became both companion and confidant that helped see him through a difficult but creatively productive period.
Diaries are evidently as singular as their owners. Yet until recently, one factor has stayed constant. Keeping a diary has meant writing a diary. Now with a camera hidden in every pocket phone or iPad, that is no longer the case.
Diary keeping for the online video age is here.
If you have visited YouTube you have probably watched a video blog or ‘vlog’ as they are also known. Vlogs are videos broadcast to a broad audience that cover a wide range of topics, people and styles. You can find everything from art lessons to political diatribes to experimental videos and comedic situations both real and created. Your video diary could become a vlog, but it doesn’t need to. Just as with any private journal, the choice is yours. There are reasons to consider both options.
Keeping your video diary private offers the opportunity to:
- See yourself from an entirely different point of view
- Increase your creativity
- Learn to express yourself more effectively (both on-camera and off)
- Work through difficult emotions
- Look back at the past with new eyes. There is something special about looking back at a diary entry and seeing and hearing the way you expressed yourself. It can almost be like a window into another life - but it was yours!
- Leave a legacy for the future (for yourself and others). Some people create video diaries that are meant to be viewed at specific times by their loved ones. For example, one mother created a video diary for her newborn to be viewed on his twenty-first Birthday.
Once you keep a private video diary, you may find the natural next step to be creating a vlog. Going public with a vlog offers benefits as well. Consider that:
- Vlogging is quick. Most individuals can speak more rapidly than they can type. Flip on your camcorder and you are all set. With a camera in nearly every cellphone you can make a vlog entry just about anywhere.
- Vloggers often form bonds and connections with their audiences much more quickly than with written blogs.
- Online video is growing in its popularity with every passing day. In the future, more and more of our lives – whether a job interview or a video call – will be conducted through this medium.
- Our words convey only a fraction of our meaning. When we communicate it is not only our words but our expressiveness and tone that carries the meaning.
- Own your own business? Keeping a vlog can connect you opportunities to promote your service or product in ever expanding ways.
So the next time you sit down, prepared to write in your diary, try something different. Pick up your cellphone or video camera, (or even a 3D camcorder!) and go for it – make a video diary entry and see where it leads you.
Michael Sean Kaminsky is a writer and documentary filmmaker. He is the author of the book "Naked Lens: Video Blogging & Video Journaling to Reclaim the YOU in YouTube." The book offers a unique series of exercises that guides readers toward a new experience of video, journaling and life.
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