Getting comfortable with the lack of privacy with my Week Notes

This post has been officially on my TODO list since October 2021 when Suze asked in the Tech Nottingham Slack about writing very publicly about my life, and how I find the comfort with it. It's something I wanted to reply to with - as is tradition - a blog post, but had not gotten around to although it has been on my mind every so often.

I've been writing Week Notes since January 2020 and they've evolved over time, but like everything on this site has always been first and foremost for me. They've been a chance for me to sit down at the end of the week and see what I've been up to, and what may be noteworthy.

Writing week notes gives me a feel for whether it's been a good week, and the amount of content - or lack of - gives some indication of what's been going on in my life, and what I found important at that point in time. Looking back at it, I think it's a somewhat therapeutic process, allowing me to process the week ahead of the next one starting. Although I always push myself to get them posted by midnight on the Sunday night, readers may be unaware that they get updated through that week and beyond as I remember things 🀫

As Matt Brunt mentioned in Slack, he enjoys the way that Carol's Life Notes are a chance to reflect on the positive things that happened over the month, but my spin on it is it gives me a chance to look at everything.

I've recently been thinking back to the various folks who've asked why I do week notes and my comfort with them being public, especially recently as more of my family have been starting to read my week notes and giving myself time to reflect on how that makes me feel given they're public.

As I mentioned, they've always been written for me, but I've been aware that these have been publicly posted. I see traffic to my week notes on Sunday/Monday and I know that there are many who read through RSS or my other feeds. There are things that - rightfully so - Anna or other people in my life wouldn't want to be written about in a public, world-readable form, so I take care to edit things out, and sometimes get Anna to review them before I post them.

When you've got a static website with source code publicly available, there's no possibility to write something private. Although I'd proposed some options I've not actually invested in any of these due to time and complexity constraints, so I've found some alternate ways to get around this.

Throughout the week I write things into a note called Week Notes and on Sundays I'll transcribe the notes into actual words, but for the more spicy thoughts/occurings, I'll privately journal them instead.

For more spicy things (not necessarily that spicy, but things like my mental health, looking for jobs, money etc) I wanted to write into the week notes, but have them very much secret, I'd encrypt them into a format that was then invisible for my readers, which allowed me to keep them alongside the week notes in question. I didn't have this until March last year, but since I've had it it's given me much more comfort writing some more personal things into my week notes and giving me some freedom of expression.

Some things weren't too spicy, so I'd wrap the content in <span style="display: hidden"></span>s before finding out that some feed readers did not honour that, therefore displaying my "secret" notes. Luckily I'd never put anything that secret into it, as I knew that it'd still be in source code and I've had a few folks let me know that they can see it in their feed readers, so it's not quite as hidden as I once thought.

I'd also use very vague language, such as:

Been a quieter week than I'd hoped, but hoping that by the end of the week, I'll have some exciting news

Which actually should have read as:

Haven't yet heard anything back about my job offers, but hoping that by the end of the week, I'll have at least had one offer and I can put in my notice at my current job, as I'm getting close to having a 3 month probation period

Since I've built my private journal website, it's given me a space to write things like this, and be comfortable that it's private - as long as I've written my code right, which is always a worry 🫠.

As to why I think I'm happy with doing it publicly, I think it may be a little down to my impulsivity portion of my ADHD and not considering the long-term effects of this. In my teenage years I used to tweet a lot, to the point that I would say it was almost an obsession. But I've definitely scaled back considerably since then, and I've been thankfully grounded by others in terms of oversharing, most recently by Pauline, in her 5th point in 5 things I learnt in 2022.

Andrew used to bring up random things in conversation that I'd put in my week notes, and it always made me chuckle, but then when someone on Slack - who I don't know super well - did it I was a bit taken aback. I did some thinking as to why I felt taken aback, and realised that I had a bit of disconnect between "this post is public and literally anyone could read it" and "someone who I know fairly could read it", and helped me reconsider it.

I've considered that I really liked reading other folks' week notes and giving me the ability to keep up to date with them in an asynchronous fashion, but also remember that this can make it a little bit parasocial, as it can make us feel more familiar than we are with the person's notes that we're reading. I do wish that all my friends did these so I'd be able to feel like we were keeping in touch even when I was being bad at messaging.

I'll be continuing to write these over time, but don't be concerned if the content in them starts trimming down considerably as I start deciding what boundaries I want to start building around what I share. I appreciate you reading them πŸ’œ

Written by Jamie Tanna's profile image Jamie Tanna on , and last updated on .

Content for this article is shared under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International, and code is shared under the Apache License 2.0.

#blogging #privacy

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