Research on Journaling

I’m exploring the concept of journaling; what people define it as today, objects used to journal and why/how people journal. The working title of this research is ‘experience journaling’.

So far I’ve discovered that the act of journaling is healthy and I’m proposing that it’s done in several ways; notebooks, photos, boxes of knick-knacks, scrapbooks, computers, etc. Basically, journaling helps us record, process, organize, remember and retell personal experiences, ideas and insights… It’s a form of storytelling using various medias. It can be very personal or very public (eg. ‘blogs’).

What’s your take on journaling? do you? how? why?

Your thoughts regarding or relating to this topic would be much appreciated. I’ll reference this forum url and post my findings as I progress.


Not unique, esp around these parts I’m sure, but I keep an active sketch/journal/scrap/note book where I write, sketch, doodle, everything. Pretty much any thought I have about just about anything goes in there whether its a quick sketch of an idea, some thoughts about my future or my relationshipts, some findings from some research, some cool print pieces or photos… It is a neccesity to me, I go through about 4-5 books a year and just pop them on my shelf in my studio at home when I’m done. I carry it everywhere and feel weir without it, as if I might see something that I might not have a chance to record for future thought, the mere fact that I sketched it out or wrote it down helps me remember. I don’t use full sentices often, just phrases, pictograms, and sketches… I’m also a compulsive doodler so it helps keep my stuff doodle free.

“What’s your take on journaling? do you? how? why?”

no take. i dont do it. but i know some who do. seems its partially artistic outlet for them. people i know are making their own paper. and books. creating custom rubber stamps. doing collages with old memorabilia. alot of work imo. seems to become a project of its own. closest i get is my bound sketchbooks.

Since you posted this in the design research forum, I feel compelled to ask about who you are targeting in this research? The two people who have responded so far are clearly designers and have given some examples that appear (I’m supposing) to be outside the mainstream.

Don’t get me wrong - I’m strongly in favor of conducting research with a range of people types in order to get a broader and more provocative perspective, but I’ve also seen a million designers post “surveys” in design forums because that’s the user community they have access to or they are most comfortable with.

I don’t know… yet. And I am trying to be as broad in my exploration as possible so I’ve been asking around and getting as much information as I can on the subject… thanks of the google post, btw.

I do know that I’m interested in the concept of journaling and I have lotsa questions. What is journaling to people? How do they do it and why? What objects and tools/artifacts are used? A friend has a bullitin board in his bedroom posted with all the concerts he’s ever went to along with ones he’s going to… A whole lot of 'em, too. For him that’s a personal journal. Another has a cabinet of figurines, bottles, rocks, shells and other trinkets/knick-knacks that she’s has collected from places she’s been to in the world. And another maintains a set of journals: a dream journal, sketch/scrapbook journal, a relationships journal and s sort of process journal… she happens to be a research psychologist.

And so the concept of journaling is ‘out there’ and I’m now just looking for as much info on it as I can on it. I’ll distill what I find through this exploration into some key physical, emotional and socio/cultural attributes that can be applied to a design of some thing.

What an excellent range of stories!

And you are really pushing on the notion of journalling pretty hard - I like the contrasting examples of documenting memories - even by “collecting” artifacts - or as some others in this thread said processing or externalizing or working through ideas or concepts. I wouldn’t have thought to connect those different activities, but you’ve got a really provoactive approach. Nice stuff…

since you asked… I have been a avid journal writter for almost half my life, ( thirteen years), and would be lost without it, I need to write to clear my head. Each one of my journals has a character of it’s own, I collect stuff, sketch, write worlds, phrases, songs, whatever speaks to me at the time, and I always seem to be writing as if someone is reading it- oh course there isn’t, but I think sub-consciously I am trying to preserve a part of my life.

You’re journaling right now :wink:

I love the idea of automatic journaling, or tech-aided journaling particularly in mobile devices.

Nokias “Life Blog” software is a good example.

With the boom of digital photography, there’s a lot of effort in developing good photo-journaling applications too. is a good dot-com example.

awesome responses…
thanks for the leads.
happy yule,

  • john

I am quite the talker. So when I moved to switzerland, where my communication was limited, and I found myself alone a lot I used journaling as a way of talking. Just writing train of thought, a lot of time irrelevant to what actually went on in mylife that day. I just wrote what I wa thinking. I found also that now that I am home, and do a lot of talknig with my family and friends, I write in my journal a lot less, because I have a lot less to vent. I feel kind of bad that I can’t express my thoughts on paper if was able to express them verbally that day, but I am trying to just get in the habit of writing more and talknig less.