Online diaries have existed since at least 1994. As a community formed, these publications came to be almost exclusively known as online journals. Today they are almost exclusively called blogs, though some differentiate by calling them personal blogs. The running updates of online diarists combined with links inspired the term 'web log' which was eventually contracted to form the word 'blog'.
In online diaries, people write about their day-to-day experiences, social commentary, complaints, poems, prose, illicit thoughts and any content that might be found in a traditional paper diary or journal. They often allow readers to contribute through comments or community posting.
The first web page in an online-diary format is thought to be Claudio Pinhanez's "Open Diary", which was published at the MIT Media Lab website from 14 November 1994 until 1996. Other early online diarists include Justin Hall, who began eleven years of personal online diary-writing in 1994, Carolyn Burke, who started publishing "Carolyn's Diary" on 3 January 1995, Bryon Sutherland, who announced his diary The Semi-Existence of Bryon in a USENET newsgroup on 19 April 1995, David Siegel, who started his journal on 30 August 1995 and Catherine Elizabeth Clay's  'Oneopinionatedbitch.com' started off as a Photographic diary in 1995 then added a full written diary 'deardementeddiary.com' currently in available in Volumes in print with Vol. I being Life Cycles.
Online diaries soon caught the attention of the media with the publication of the book 24 Hours in Cyberspace (1996) which captured personal profiles of the people involved in early web pages. The earliest book-length scholarly discussion of online diaries is Philippe Lejeune's Cher écran, ("Dear Screen", not yet translated to English).
In 1998, Simon Firth described in Salon magazine how many early online diarists were abandoning the form. And yet, he said, "While many of the movement's pioneers may be tired and disillusioned, the genre shows plenty of signs of life -- of blossoming, even, into something remarkable: a new literary form that allows writers to connect with readers in an excitingly new way."
Formation of a community
As diarists (sometimes called escribitionists) began to learn from each other, several Webrings formed to connect the various diaries and journals. The most popular Webring was Open Pages, which started in July 1996 and had 537 members as of 20 October 1998. A community website called Diarist.Net was formed and awarded "The Diarist Awards" quarterly from 1999 through 2004. There were a number of lists of diaries and journals by topic, called "'burbs", which allowed people to find sites that had some correlation to each other.
Mailing lists helped solidify the community. "Collabs" were collaborative projects in which people wrote on given topics and subjects.
Some early diaries and journals showcased different emerging internet technologies, including interactive message forums, online stores, RealAudio, RealVideo as on the early literary blogger's website nakednovelist.com (founded in 1990), live webcams, notify lists, and daily self-photographs.
The formation of diary hosting websites such as Open Diary, Diary-X, Xanga, Femmunity and LiveJournal caused an explosive proliferation of online diaries and journals. Today, interactive online diaries, online journals, personal blogs and group blogs are integrated into the daily lives of many teenagers and college students, with communications between friends playing out online. Even fights may be posted in the diaries, with not-so-veiled insults of each other easily readable by all their friends, enemies, and complete strangers.
Personal opinions on experiences and hobbies are very common in the blog world. Blogs have given the opportunity for people to express their views to a mass audience.
In October 2006, the History Matters campaign, a 2006 joint project by the major heritage organizations in England and Wales, conducted the One Day in History project, asking residents of the UK to write an online diary of what they did on 17 October 2006. The diaries were stored at the British Library from November.
References and notes
- a copy of his "open diary" archived by the wayback archive system.
- Harmanci, Reyhan (2005-02-20). "Time to get a life — pioneer blogger Justin Hall bows out at 31". SFgate. Retrieved 2006-06-09.
- "Carolyn's Diary"
- USENET announcement
- "David Siegel's journal"
- |http://purephotography.com "purephotography.com"
- Lejeune, Philippe (2000). "Cher écran": Journal personnel, ordinateur, Internet. Editions de Seuil. ISBN 2-02-041251-9.
- as with the diary history project
- Salon magazine
- The last archived version of the 'burbs listing shows 123 burbs as of 07 March 2002.
- last archived version of the Collabs listing
- Booth, Robert (2006-10-15). "Britain's bloggers make history". The Sunday Times (London: The Times). Retrieved 2008-10-08.
- Weblog software
- Escribitionist - a term for a person who keeps a diary or journal via electronic means, and in particular, publishes their entries on the World Wide Web.
- Online diary at the Open Directory Project
- the online diary history project recollections from some pioneers who began writing between 1995–1997; they trace the development and popularization of the medium up to 2000.
- The Effort to Keep an Online Diary Private by Bly Lauritano-Werner, 24 July 2006, NPR