The other week I read about a popular journaling app for the iPhone that allows you to populate your journal by aggregating your posts from your various social networks. I was saddened to hear that this was being touted as a selling point for journaling software. Here's why I don't see it as a benefit.
When you aggregate posts and actions from various social networks, you're effectively just pulling the random stuff that you throw out to the world on a daily basis. Often it's a spur of the moment thought or opinion. How many times have you posted publicly you were going to do something but didn't see it through? I've lost track myself. Promises of using different programming languages and frameworks have all been broken because that post that I made publicly is a spur of the moment action. Aggregating media is not a form of journaling because it pollutes your journal with whimsical statements and promises that are often written on the spur of the moment.
Journaling is the act of writing down your thoughts in private. Whether it's a digital journal or pen and paper, journaling is the act of organising your thoughts and putting them down so that you can reflect on it now and later. It's a log of your thoughts, opinions and actions. Your successes and failures. Sometimes you'll like what you write, sometimes you won't. When you start noticing trends in your journal entries, then you can start to take action.Ten journal entries in the same month about your wish to write a book say more about your passion and willingness to do this than a one off tweet on Twitter. It's these trends in your journal entries that let you identify what you want to do rather than what you would like to do.
Your journal is your life in the words that you write to yourself, not to the world.