Virginia Barton

6 May 2013: Welcome — and this is no blog!

shutterstock_114542011 (1) (800x689)

6 May 2013


This is no blog. Perish the thought.  Such an ugly, lumpish word. Am I the only person in the entire world who objects to it? I need an alternative.

How about Cyberdiary? Or Biospace? The former sounds like pointy ears Spock’s reminiscences and the latter a green pesticide for a glasshouse.  But, says you, everyone knows what a blog means. Everyone knows what gaga means and it’s still a hideous word, something to do with “g”.

What about Posts scripta? Hello! Or Pensées? But the one is pretentious and the others already bespoke. I would have liked Logbook, in memory of the heroic loser Scott, but this is no book. Nuggets won’t do either – there’s that hard g again, neither will Jottings or Chatter.

I’m rather tempted by Bin… but it could be mistaken for Trash.

So I shall dredge up a decent old word not often used these days but which is ideally suited to the purpose without having to use the “b” word.





In 1720, in a Letter of Advice to a Young Poet, Jonathan Swift wrote:

“. . . A commonplace book is what a provident poet cannot subsist without, for this proverbial reason, that ‘great wits have short memories:’ and whereas, on the other hand, poets, being liars by profession, ought to have good memories; to reconcile these, a book of this sort, is in the nature of a supplemental memory, or a record of what occurs remarkable in every day’s reading or conversation. There you enter not only your own original thoughts, (which, a hundred to one, are few and insignificant) but such of other men as you think fit to make your own, by entering them there . . .”

The few and insignificant thoughts are exactly what will be found  in Commonplaces.

No cash prizes for thinking up a better word but suggestions always welcome.




But this first item is far from insignificant. Have you ever actually met someone who has had a kidney transplant? 44-year-old Sean had one last week and is already back home. Magic.

Some brave person remembered to sign up as a potential donor, or an even braver relation gave permission. If I were Sean I’d want to know who it was that gave this wonderful gift, but I expect he’s just grateful.




(Is Commonplaces rather fey? Trying too hard? Do we all hate it?)





  • George says on: May 7, 2013 at 6:43 pm


    BRAVO! I dislike “blog” as well. Swift would be proud of your adoption of his commonplace book.

  • Susie says on: May 8, 2013 at 2:54 pm


    TOTALLY AGREE! Love Virginia’s point of view. We think alike!

  • Ana V says on: May 8, 2013 at 3:27 pm


    In Lithuanian, “blog” is “blogas”, and “blogas” means “bad”. So linguists who do I.T. terminology came up with something like, yes, Cyberdiary (tinklarashtis).

    • ginny says on: May 8, 2013 at 4:29 pm


      Tinklarashtis is delightful! It could be Tinkerbell’s twin sister, or perhaps a small shell fish, if it wasn’t already a commonplace in Lithuanian. (I knew b–g must be bad somewhere in the world.) What is b–g in French, I wonder?

      • Howard says on: May 8, 2013 at 5:01 pm


        Spare a kind thought for those poor I.T. people out there who keep our computers running! Did you know BLOG is a corruption of “web log” and made its first appearance in 1999?

        • ginny says on: May 9, 2013 at 2:30 pm


          True. And it’s snappy, international – and ugly. (“Plug” isn’t much better…)

      • Ana V says on: May 9, 2013 at 6:32 am


        Blog in French is le blog, strangely enough. French computer terms are often vastly different from the English (international?) ones.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


(c) All Rights Reserved. Site Designed by Magtype CR