Mem.

As I started to read Stoker's Dracula for the first time, a recurring detail caught my attention. Jonathan Harker's journal is interspersed with these reminders to himself:

(Mem., get recipe for Mina.)

(Mem., I must ask the Count all about them.)

(Mem., get recipe for this also.)

(Mem., I must ask the Count about these superstitions.)

(Mem., this diary seems horribly like the beginning of the “Arabian Nights,” for everything has to break off at cockcrow, or like the ghost of Hamlet's father.)

The term “Mem.” is shorthand for memorandum, a note serving as a means to prompt one's memory. Coincidentally enough, Wikitionary quotes Dracula as the sole example of the abbreviation. No wonder that it is marked as “now rare.” But while the shorthand might have fallen out of favor, the function of the memorandum has not. We just call it a “blog.”

Posts are like a Mem. that Harker penned in his journals. We are trying to remind ourselves about things and ideas through writing and hyperlinking. Returning to posts jogs our memory, leading not only to recollection but further conceptual development.

These memorandums are not confined to our own use either. They can be interacted with, referenced, and shared. Individual memorandums become networked memorandums on the web. This relates to an interesting discussion around internal and external validation when writing on the web. Are we writing for our own memory or for those of others? How do memorandums fit within networked writing?

I think Bix presents a compelling picture of networked journaling in his argument for dates in permalinks:

In a sense, blogs were never meant to be definitive.

They aren’t a destination, but a journey, and like the old paper journals which logged offline journeys, a weblog is meant to have dates. Presenting them in both the text itself and the permalink is a way to help the reader navigate their own journey through yours.