[This article is a revised update from Wilkerson, Richard Catlett
(Winter, 1999). The Internet as a Dream Journal. The Association for the Study
of Dreams Cyberphile. Dream Time 16(1).]
The most common way to record a dream today is in a dream
journal. However, this was not always so. Early dream sharing was most likely
verbal and done around a village fire. Whoever else happened to be awake at the
time acted as the journal, a human surface against which the dream was recorded.
Rather than the private and isolated act that keeping a journal has become, the
dream was originally distributed across the social network.
Contemporary dream groups have helped bridge this gap between the isolated
dreamer and his/her society. But since we don't wake up within direct earshot of
the group, sequestered journal keeping remains our primary recording medium. The
Internet can't yet give back the intimate social experience of the village fire,
but it does offer new opportunities in social recording and processing. With a
few selections, one can both record and share a dream at the same time. The
dream might go out anonymously to a general public or be shared with more
personal details in an intimate group.
E-mail will automatically stamp a date and time on your dream record. Even if
you send the e-mail to yourself, this creates a dated journal. Many e-mail
programs offer special mail boxes, that will automatically sort through both
incoming and outgoing e-mail. Most people use these for sorting incoming mail
from a particular topic area or person, but they can just as easily be used to
keep a record of dreams.
E-mail can be further configured to distribute to a group. Different groups
now online offer different methods for recording your dreams and getting
different types responses.
The Electric Dreams community offers three different dream journal
opportunities via e-mail. The first is a list called dream-flow. This is an open
list, where dreams and comments on dreams flow in and out from a variety of
sources. The dreams and comments are doubly recorded. The e-mail posts are
archived publicly and they are also published once a month on the Electric
Dreams e-zine, which is the second e-mail list. Electric Dreams also allows
dreamers to send in pictures and dream inspired graphics in an illustrated
version of the same e-zine. Electric Dreams is also archived online in a
distributed manner, with members keeping full and partial collections on mirror
sites, creating a redundant and thereby robust memory and archiving system.
The Electric Dreams community offers a third e-mail group, called the
DreamWheels. [No connection with the wonderful Ramsay Raymond Dreamwheel] These
are more private groups that are limited in number and time or duration. They
experiment with various kinds of dream sharing, the most popular being the
styles developed by John Herbert for electronic channels in the early 1990s. The
records of these groups are usually keep confidential, though they are
occasionally published with the permission of the participants.
Bulletin Boards, Usenet Newsgroups and Web Sites.
Another way to use the Internet as a dream journal is to post dreams on a
bulletin board. The most popular bulletin boards on dreams and dreaming are the
Usenet Newsgroups. To contact these, you really need a news-reader program and
your Internet provider [ISP] has to carry the groups. If you are on America
Online, you can use the keyword "usenet" and then subscribe to the
newsgroups you want.
The most popular dream boards are alt.dreams, alt.dreams.lucid and
alt.dreams.castaneda but there are several others that talk about dreams and
dreaming as well, including alt. jung alt.psyhology, alt.psychology.help and
Posting to these boards creates two kinds of archived records. The first
lasts about two weeks. During that time, people can comment on your posts,
creating "threads" of notes that are connected to the original post.
After that time, the posts go into long term holding archives. The best way to
access these archives right now is via a search engine called Deja-News
www.dejanews.com This service will also allow you to post messages without
having direct access to the Usenet Newsgroups. As an archiving service, these
groups are very convenient. Dreams sent in to them will be time stamped and
dated. Researchers can search via keywords.
An alternative to the Newsgroups and ISPs is the individually owned web site.
Jeremy Taylor, for example, provides a dream discussion area where dreams can be
posted in the same style as on a Usenet Newsgroup. The guestbook has archives,
but it is unclear what will happen with the posts over time.
Patricia Garfield has a feedback form depending on the type of dream you
have. These dreams flow into the research on Universal Dreams.
An artistic variation is as site by Gail Bixler-Thomas, where
dreamers can post the dream with a picture and the dreamer's own
Jesse Reklaw has been providing a unique dream recording service for years,
but only a few special dreams get chosen. He turns the chosen dreams sent in
into comic strips, and these are archived.
Again, the length of the post is up to the individual Web site owner. The
solution is to put up and maintain your own private Web site.
The private dream journal sites are too numerous to mention individually, but
I wanted to point out a few of the characteristics and general flavor of these
sites. Often they are like a normal journal, with dream collections from various
time periods. These can vary widely. Some people have put online dream journal
collections that cover many years of dreaming, while others have put up
collections that cover a few days or months. Many of the sites include
illustrations and are more like dream inspired art galleries, while others are
completely text entries and pages. Some of the online journals include feedback
forms and comments to the dreamer, while others allow for sorting and searching
of particular dream themes. A new appearance has been the appearance of Web-
Rings, which tie together themes, such as dream journals, together in a
connected hyperlinking indexing system. Dan Cummings attempted a similar project
within one web site. He linked themes within dreams to other sites. For example,
creating links from a dream alligator to a site about mythic alligators and save
the crocodile clubs. Storing dreams and recording dreams in computers offline
have been discussed by Peggy Coats (see above article) and others, such as Sarah
Richards [http://www.iris-publishing.com/] and Cynthia Pearson. ["The Dream
Index: Thanks to Bill Gates, It's Working." Paper presentation, ASD-12,
June 22, 1995.] The channels of these journals used to be read-out-only or
print. That is, we could print the files or read from them verbally or to
ourselves. Now they are becoming more integrated with online programs and
beginning to distribute themselves across the global network.
If you have been feeling anxious about this dispersal of private material
into the public arena, you are not alone. The Internet has made the issue of
private vs. public as problematic as the issue of nurture vs. nature. What
happens, for example, when your boss reads your dream journals, or your husband,
For those concerned about how dreams might expose material too personal to
share, but still want feedback & social interaction, there is always
anonymous sharing. This is the Internet's solution to confidentiality. E-mail
accounts online are now free. That is, once you have established one e-mail
account, you can sign up for several others. Netscape, Hotmail, Tripod and other
ISP's give these away free in exchange for attention. AOL offers its members 5
or 6 e-mail name accounts. With these accounts you can send and receive mail
anonymously. To protect people with dream about close friends, some people use
the global find and replace on word processors to exchange personal names with
pen names and pseudonyms.
Anonymous intimacy, public privacy, exteriorized interiors, networked
emotional fields, computer mediated souls. Sound crazy? Welcome to the 21st
Century! Here the boundaries of recording dreams and sharing them are in flux.
Archiving can now just as easily be publishing. Recalling dreams may include a
wide range of computer mediated assistance. The word "journal" becomes
more of a perspective than an object, an organizing intelligence as well as a
repository of data. We needn't get lost in the chaos. As the term
"journal" begins to take on additional meanings and values, it forces
us to more carefully extract and define the essence of these activities and
practices. We begin to unfold the value that we place on dating and time
stamping our dreams. We begin to explore the differences within and between the
textual, verbal and graphic recordings.
We begin to examine the boundaries of representing and presenting dreams, of
their beginnings and endings, their resistance and persistence. Is the dream
over once we wake up and begin recalling it, or when we semi-lucidly begin
recalling before fully waking up? What kind of record is it when the text is
distributed over global networks and returned with comments?
There is one thing we can be sure of and that is the methods for recording
and keeping dreams will continue to evolve and overflow the boundaries of our
present day techniques and practices. This becomes especially so when the
Internet itself is used as the village fire that acts as the pages of the
manuscript. This digitally mediated journal is a fountain of networked flows
through which you can truly transverse the inscription of your own dreams.
- Richard Wilkerson