Michael Eriksson
A Swede in Germany
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Online diaries

One of the best ways to get a better understanding of others is to read online-diaries and blogs focusing on the authors’ personal lives. I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in developing this understanding.

The insights that can be drawn are considerable, e.g. by giving an understanding of others thinking and emotions, indirectly observing human behaviour, learning from the errors of others, ... (For some of the more obvious examples, see my discussion of women and online diaries.) This applies already to the reasonably normal majority, in particular when looking at those written by people of the opposite sex, from other cultures or age groups, and similar. In addition there is a large minority of diaries that show such freakish behaviour, lack of intelligence, or are otherwise absurd, that reading them is tantamount to looking into world that has as little to do with mine as does Narnia. (In fact, I regularly find myself doubting their veracity, e.g. “This must someone deliberately posing with an exaggerated stereotype of [x].”, and only the low probability that so many diaries could be fake keeps me believing them.)

For these purposes, I typically use http://www.opendiary.com/e—a provider of online diaries and blogs, with a with a very large number of diaries. I often use the “random” function, see if the entry displayed is promising, and if so investigate the diary closer (if not, I just click random again).

I do some diarying and blogging too, as discussed in my category with blog entries.

For those contemplating printed diaries: I can from my own readings recommend Anne Frank’s Diaryw. Samuel Pepys’w does allow for some insights into the workings of society, intrigue, and similar (and is obviously interesting to the historian); however, does so with low density and only indirectly—it mostly consists of boring descriptions of what Pepys did when, where, and with whom.


Earlier versions of this page contained brief reviews of some diaries that I had found interesting (in the sense that they indirectly brought me insights about humans in general and the authors in particular—not necessarily in the sense that the authors had anything important or interesting to say). As I learned over time, however, other equally interesting diaries are so easily found that these reviews were bordering on the pointless. Additionally seeing that some of the reviewed diaries were described in a potentially insulting manner, I decided to remove them.

For the sake of backwards-compatibility, the following is a raw list of links to these diaries: