Symbolic Forest

A homage to loading screens.



In which things get recorded

Today is apparently One Day In History, a day for creating a “mass blog” which will be stored by the British Library. It sounds like an interesting idea, but I’m not convinced.

The grandfather of this sort of event is Mass-Observation, an organisation set up to record everyday life in the 1930s, and still going today. It, though, was directed centrally by anthropologists, and still tells its writers vaguely what it would like them to write about. One Day In History, by comparison, is broad but shallow. It wants to know what people did, not what their opinions are. It wants you to talk about an ordinary day, but also wants “history” to be an important part of what you do.

In any event like this, there’s always going to be a contrast between the drive to make sure people write about “ordinary things”, and the pressure to write something interesting. My day today will probably be fairly boring. Get up, office, home, dinner, spend the evening sorting and filing the photos I took at the weekend. If One Day In History had been last Saturday, say, I’d have had something much more interesting to write about. It’s also a very self-selecting event.* How many people are only going to write if they have something interesting to say? How many are going to feel an urge to do something special, to paint a slightly more interesting life? I’m going to write about my own boring day for them tonight, if only to balance things out a little.

* But then, so is the current incarnation of Mass-Observation