A day in the life

Posted by Ian 
We’ve been running our homepage blog for a few months now and, along with our fellow blogs across the various sections of the MSN UK website, hope to have lifted the lid on what we do why we do, and how we succeed (and sometimes fail) in doing it.
Indeed, our blogs have already evolved somewhat since their respective launches. You can now find Matt B and Tom holding forth on the state of the press in News, James recounting tales of unpredictable celebrity encounters in Music, Ed jousting with celluloid chancers in Movies, Ellen, Matt P and Alastair tackling everything from the cost of children to lazy students in Money, Sarah and Nicole spinning ghost stories in Lifestyle, Ross eulogising about his eyes in Health, and Tom E, Henry and Ian D generally putting the world to rights in Cars.
Yet everything’s relative. With an estimated 52 million blogs now in existence around the world, more people are recording more observations about more events in the world than at any point in history.
The practice of keeping a journal, once an exclusively private affair, is now a fully-fledged public activity. In effect, more of the world’s citizens know more about what is going on in the world than ever before, while the business of taking 10 or 15 minutes out of every day to jot down thoughts for the benefit of the online billions is something many consider par for the course.
In light of this, and in a hugely inspired move, The National Trust has designated today, 17th October, a national blog day. It wants as many people as possible to write an account of their day in an effort to compile the world’s largest blog. The campaign, One Day In History, has admirable aims: to assemble a snapshot of life in the Britain of 2006, comprising the thoughts and impressions of ordinary people doing ordinary things, and then to preserve that snapshot for all time.
The British Library will retain everybody’s submissions so generations to come will be able to look back and wonder at our obsession with, for instance, listening to loud music on earphones in public places, grumbling about more pollution while refusing to pay more tax, drinking water out of bottles instead of taps, and expecting pop stars to say profound things about anything other than their favourite colour.
It’s the kind of exercise that’s been done before, perhaps most famously in the 1930s through the Mass Observation Archive. This was a collection of journals penned by folk right around the UK, commissioned in the spirit of democratising history and empowering citizens, but also to assemble a picture of Britain from the bottom up (this was the time of the Great Depression) rather than the top down.
A different sort of initiative was mounted in 1988 by the British Film Institute, who, on Tuesday 1st November of that year, invited the entire population to keep a diary of what they watched on television, again collecting the results for posterity.
Back then the notion of being able to find out what the country really thought about something, and to take the temperature of public opinion, was a startling novelty. Now the reverse is true, but before blogs become as redundant and passe as Laserdiscs (it could happen!), today is a day it is hoped will be remembered for centuries.
To take part, all you have to do is:
– Write a diary of your day (it should be anything from 100 to 650 words long)
– Visit the History Matters website and follow the instructions on how to upload your blog
– Make sure everyone you know, from close friends and family to work colleagues, does the same
Your blog can be uploaded anytime between now and 31st October, so don’t worry about having it completed today.
I’ll be sending in my own submission, which will include – of course – how I spent a portion of the day writing a blog about writing a blog. Why don’t you do the same?
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