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Journal Naked!
Sean Pratz

Which idea scares you more, installing a web cam in your bedroom or sharing your personal journal on the Internet?

I'm sure you won't be shocked to hear that plenty of people bare all for the camera, but you might be surprised to learn that tens of thousands of people put their personal journals online. Maybe the only difference between the two sorts of people is just a matter of degree. It takes a certain amount of exhibitionism to bare everything to complete strangers, whether it's your body or your deepest thoughts and feelings.

If you'd rather die than let anyone read your journal then you probably wouldn't be interested in anything like the above. But if you think it might be a freeing experience to bare all, read on... (You can do this anonymously, too, y'know.)

Why would you want to journal online? Do you really want complete strangers to know about your stuffed animal fetish? That's up to you. There are online journals frank enough to make a sailor blush, and others that just scratch the surface. They can be the online equivalent of yelling "I'm in love!" through the sunroof on the way home from the perfect date, or they can be as depressing as a suicide note. Just like "real" journals.

What motivates a person to put their journal online, anyway? I think that for many it starts out as simple exhibitionism, just like 90% of the personal web pages out there. Many of the journals you'll come across in your travels will just scream out "VANITY!" But I also think that this particular sort of exhibitionism can be used as a tool for personal growth.

You're never alone when you're online. There's always someone out there that feels the way you do, whether you're depressed or happy, confused or proud. If I were to stumble across someone's journal where they express feeling exactly the same way I do at the moment, I might drop them a line to tell them they're not alone. If they write about feeling terrible about a problem that I have dealt with in the past I might offer words of encouragement. And if they write about how ecstatic they are because of something great that's happening in their lives I'll congratulate them.

Online journals are a way for people to do what Creative-Journal.com encourages you to do every day - but to do it publicly, anonymously (you don't need to use your real name, after all), and with the chance of connecting with someone who understands where you're at.

Not a techie? Don't let that stop you! You don't need to know how to build a web page and you don't need to have your own web space to set up an online journal.

The easiest way to start is by going to www.blogger.com . The strange name comes from the phrase web log, which is just a trendy way of saying online journal." The phrase got shortened to blog," and someone who keeps a web log is a blogger.

Blogger.com will host your online journal for the price of a banner-ad if you don't have a web server (or keep it organized for free if you do), and will let you set it up anonymously. The company hosts over ten thousand public blogs and who-knows-how-many private ones. All you have to do is give them a username and a password, choose how you want your journal to look, and start typing. It even archives your old journal entries for you. (You'll need to give them an e-mail address to get started, but there's no reason you can't use an anonymous Hotmail account.) If you're technically inclined you'll find it easy to make it look exactly the way you want.

Blogger.com is probably the best known blog hosting site around, but there are plenty of other choices. You can find tons of them at
www.larkfarm.com
The same site has a whackload of directories listing other people's blogs at
www.larkfarm.com/wlm/lists.htm

Weblogs have other uses besides public journaling. You can give other people posting privileges and use the blog to stay connected with far-flung friends and family. Others use them to keep track of the cool web sites they've found (and to share them with others who have similar interests). There are companies that use them to keep in touch with customers. Some blogs get so popular that the owners wind up syndicating them! Fill yours with random thoughts, poems, essays, rants, cool sites... whatever you like.

Blogs are a tool - just like private journals are a tool. Both can be used to enhance your personal growth, and having a place on the Web to store your thoughts can be both rewarding and healing.

If you'd like to learn a bit about the history of weblogs, visit:
www.rebeccablood.net

About Our Guest Columnist:

Sean Pratz writes the Space-Guy newsletters. He uses Blogger to keep readers up to date on the latest science and technology news, and just might have an anonymous blog floating around somewhere in cyberspace... He also happens to be married to the lovely editor of Creative-Journal.

You can reach him at sean@space-guy.com or visit his website at
www.space-guy.com

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All contents 2001, Corinne Pratz unless otherwise noted. "Creative-Journal" "Creative-Journal.com" and "Achieving Growth One Word At A Time" are trademarks of Corinne Pratz.