Record of my life (well, just one year)
November 11, 2006 3:46 PM   Subscribe

Help putting together an online record of my year as an exchange student. Specifically, my questions inside deal with: what media (blog, wiki, lj, flickr, website?) how to deal with different materials (diary, emails, photos, memories) and a legal question regarding the association that sent me.

In 2000/2001 I was a long-term youth exchange student to Malaysia with a particular service organization. I was thinking about my year abroad and realized that if I don't do something now to preserve and organize my memories they will be lost. My diary has already suffered some water damage and parts of it are unreadable, and years of shuffling around has meant that my photos are all out of order and some have disappeared. So I want to get everything together in a virtual format that will withstand physical damage and will make it easy for me to search particular events/photos. Also important is that it is in a form that I can share with my family and friends.

I have: a damaged diary
a few old livejournal posts
emails that I sent to my mother and her replies
cookbooks/loose recipes
other scraps (from conferences, movie tickets, song lyrics/)

What can I do with all this? How can I organize it all online in a coherent order?

Finally, my legal-ish question: I didn't actually have a good year abroad and I have a lot of negative feelings and opinions about the organization that sent me. Do I need to hide the name of this organization under a pseudonym, or can I be candid? Not all of my opinions on this group are bad, and it is possible that in a few years I may even try to join. Is writing about how they let me down going to be problematic?
posted by arcticwoman to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite is possible that in a few years I may even try to join.

That right there is the key statement (I assume you mean join this same organization; correct me if I'm wrong). Publishing negative stuff about the organization could have negative consequences. Don't burn the bridge.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:53 PM on November 11, 2006 [1 favorite]

I have considered the same thing for my now ten-years-past stint in Belgium through what is probably the same service organization. I think a blogging tool with categorization/tags might work well, so you can have a category for each type of media -- recipe category, email category, etc. LJ has tags, I know, but you might prefer the flexibility of something like Wordpress or MT hosted on your own site.
Have you retained approximate chronological order? It would seem to make the most sense to use that as the primary categorization, alongside the tags/categories.

As for the legality/propriety of negative opinions ... I don't know, I guess it depends on whether any members of the organization, specificially of your district and of the club that sent you, would read the site. Will you broadcast it to them, or just send it to friends and family? When I was sent, it was pretty much before the internets; do you think they Google potential new members these days? Can your negative opinions be written instead as constructive criticism? Do you think they value constructive criticism and/or are they open to changing the way the program is run, specifically those things that you perceived as negative?
Basically what I'm getting at is if they think you have important, valuable points to make, and if they are willing to listen to those points and make changes based on your input, then it shouldn't be a problem. But if they are pretty set in their ways (my club/district seemed to be) then they might not want to listen to "X aspect sucked; can we do it this way instead?"
posted by librarina at 4:28 PM on November 11, 2006

I can frame a lot of it in terms of constructive criticism, and I have. I even presented to a local club last year (not my home club, though) about what went wrong and what I would recommend for when THEY send away students. I do want to rewrite my diary online, though, and a lot of that is just plain old "I hate them, they make me miserable." I don't want to censor my diary, but I can replace the name of the club with a pseudonym.
posted by arcticwoman at 4:51 PM on November 11, 2006

Ah. I see. Hmm.

I wonder if transferring your diary online and making a site with recipes, ticket stubs, etc. might be two different projects? Like you could make one LJ/blog with the diary transcribed, and then you could reproduce selected entries on a different site, your own site or another LJ or whatever, with the other content as well? Then if you wanted to publicize that one, even just to friends and family, you wouldn't have to worry about any embarrassment from seeing the whole diary?

How was your presentation to the other club received?
posted by librarina at 4:59 PM on November 11, 2006

It was actually very well recieved. They were really impressed that I didn't do the typical exchange student thing and say "It was wonderful, everything was perfect, I love you all so much, please line up so I can kiss your asses one-by-one." A few of them even apologized on behalf of the organization as a whole for what those two particular clubs did to me.

You might be right about it being two separate projects. I have to think on that.
posted by arcticwoman at 5:10 PM on November 11, 2006

Depending on the service organization, they may not take criticism of one or two clubs as reflecting on their club. For example, if this is the Rotary (who sent me overseas), what a club overseas did may not tweak knee-jerk defensiveness in North America.

I'd think how you worded it would be critical. Perhaps you could talk about Mr. M and Ms. J rather than "The Grand Elk Club of Pajama City" when being constructively critical?
posted by QIbHom at 7:49 PM on November 11, 2006

In terms of not creating a lot of bad feelings, if you decide not to censor your journal (and I'm not convinced that just dumping a personal journal online is really the most useful thing to do, in terms of creating content, but that's a personal/artistic decision), I think you need to find a way to pair your possibly caustic, spur-of-the-moment diary comments, with more constructive, thoughtful "this is the lesson here"-type comments written later. It might be something as obvious as a disclaimer/foreward before each of your entries that are hypercritical, with a link to a more recent entry, where you discuss your feelings in retrospect and what you think could have been done better.

If you think this organization is one you want to be affiliated with later, I agree you need to not burn too many bridges. It sounds like they're receptive to constructive criticism, but nobody likes to be dumped on. Even if you're just consolidating things that you wrote while in the midst of an experience, you're choosing to keep them around and publish them now, so people may wonder why you're doing that if you don't still agree with its content. (They may see the act of republishing without editing as basically a reaffirmation of your stated opinions, if you're not clear about that not being the case.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:16 PM on November 11, 2006

What if you put your stuff up on something like Vox, and just make the entries you think could be especially detrimental private?
posted by MsMolly at 7:24 AM on November 12, 2006

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