Building a New Kind of Dream Journal

Published on 10 October 2020

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Every night presents us with a new opportunity to access the unconscious parts of the mind. Dreams are the interface. They are the portal to hidden, inner resources. The goal of Oneironotes is to tap into this unconscious, dreaming Self.

Simply put, Oneironotes is a dream journal.

Let's dive in.

Why dreams?

If you want to know "why", then honestly, you've come to the wrong site. I want to lead with this question anyway, because I know perhaps some people I know personally or professionally will check out this project and maybe wonder...

For starters, I'm the type of person who would rather think why not? Dreams seem like such a strange and crazy interesting phenomenon to me. Even stranger, is how most people think nothing of it.

Dreams are the ultimate tools for Self-inquiry, but you don't need to be an armchair philosopher to enjoy them. Dreams have been the source of inspiration for many creators, inventors, scientists and artists. Studies have not only shown dreams stimulate creativity (Schredl and Hofmann, 2003), they can even improve physical skills (Stumbrys, Erlacher and Schredl, 2015) and help you overcome recurring nightmares and phobias.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. The key to getting the most out of your dreams, for whatever reason, is to become aware of them. Better yet, to become aware of the dream while you are still dreaming, i.e. lucid dreaming. A dream journal helps you to accomplish this.

oneironaut (plural oneironauts)
From oneiro- + -naut.
    1. A person who explores dream worlds, usually associated with lucid dreaming.

So what's wrong with a good old-fashioned paper journal?

Nothing really. It's just that, if you love dreaming as much as I do, you might end up with a stack of notebooks like this:

Stack of notebooks

Now, what if you want to know any of the following...

  • How many dreams do you typically recall?
  • How often did you realize you were dreaming during your sleep? What's your "lucidity ratio"?
  • When and how often do you dream about X?
  • What emotions do you feel?
  • What are your good dreams and what are your bad dreams about?
  • When's the first and when was your most recent dream about Y?
  • Which patterns and dreamsigns do your dreams show?
  • When are you lucid? When are you not?

You get the idea... A stack of papers won't help you answer questions like these easily.

But I am already using a dream journal app...

Are you? If so, I would like to get in touch and hear about your experience. What do you miss the most in the app you use? What do you like, what do you dislike?

I never quite felt satisfied with existing dream journal apps. So... I made my own.

Why I felt the need for a new digital dream journal

I believe the ideal dream journal should have at least the following ingredients. This is not meant to be a comprehensive overview, because there are elements I would like to keep somewhat secret :-)

  • Easy entry.
  • Private and secure storage.
  • Search.
  • Multi-device and automatic synchronization.
  • Annotations and metadata.
  • Visualization.
  • Prediction.
  • Sharing.

Let's zoom in on this...

Easy entry

There should be a low barrier to entry. Dream journaling should be easy, quick, and not disturb your sleep too much.

If you are a hardcore "oneironaut", when are you most likely noting down your dreams? Given how fast dream memory fades: most likely after waking, when you can barely open your eyes, let alone look at a bright LCD screen.

Of course, this problem will remain somewhat intractable until brain-machine interfaces that literally read your thoughts are invented (I'm looking at you, Neuralink). Until then, we are stuck with writing, drawing, and audio recording.

Nevertheless, there are small things we can do to make dream entry tolerable at the very least: from the positioning of the "add button", to font choice and font size, to color scheme and brightness reduction. Also, a mobile app will not be the only input medium. A variety of input sources are possible. These will all be topics of future blog posts.

Private and secure storage

Is there anything more intimate than the inner workings of your dreaming mind? Well, perhaps, but for most people, dreams are extremely personal. So it goes without saying that privacy and security are important.

Yet, most (if not all) existing dream journal apps with cloud sync (backing up your data "in the cloud") do not guarantee complete privacy. The app maker still has access to your notes.

Oneironotes guarantees only YOU can access your dreams (by using end-to-end encryption).

Dream search

The hardest thing to do with a paper journal is searching for specific content. The easiest thing to do with a digital journal, is search.

Multi-device sync

This one probably speaks for itself as well. I want to easily transition between entering my dreams on my phone and annotating them on my laptop or tablet. This requires a secure syncing mechanism.

Dream annotations and metadata

A lot of useful information can be inferred from dream reports. In Dr. Stephen LaBerge's classic "Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming", he recommends a comprehensive system of dreamsign classification. I've always wanted to implement this digitally, because it makes quantitative analysis easy. With Oneironotes, you will be able to annotate your dreamsigns and classify them according to LaBerge's system.

Besides dreamsign classification, other types of metadata can be attached (a lucidity scale, genres, emotions, a title, ...). This will enrich your dream journal immensely.

Even better: we can use machine learning and NLP (natural language processing) to do automatic annotations. This will make analyzing your dreams easier and faster the more you use your journal. More about that later :-)

Dream visualization

A journal consisting of nothing but a wall of text is pretty bland. If we annotate the most important elements of our dreams, we can actually visualize them. With Oneironotes it will be possible (and to an extent, already is possible) to visualize your personal "dream network", or "dream map".

Once you have your map, it will be much easier to navigate your nocturnal territory.

Dream map example

Prediction of dream content

An Oneironaut's wet dream is being able to predict what they are going to dream about next. Once you know what the most likely patterns to encounter will be, it will be much easier to have lucid dreams (the "MILD" technique, "Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams"). It will be like a trip to the grocery store with your shopping list in mind.

We are not there yet, but we are paving the road to make some kind of dream pattern recognition possible in the future.

Dream sharing

A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.
-- John Lennon

The practice of dream sharing is something many cultures from all over the world have in common. In Western culture it is unfortunately still belittled and seen as weird. We want to change this and we do so by making it OK to share, analyze, and interpret your dreams, by giving you the option to do so.

Call for testers!

It took time, but I've taken the first steps toward a new kind of dream journal envisioned here. Oneironotes is currently available as an application accessed through the browser. You can also "install" the app your phone or even access it offline.

If you read this far, I need your help to improve it.

You can try out the app in its current state here. You can make an account to save and sync your dreams by choosing to "upgrade". I offer a lifetime membership for those who choose to support Oneironotes. As the developer, I'll be eternally grateful to any early sponsors, literally. Over time, I will probably switch to a subscription model for new members.

I would love to hear your feedback and if you are interested in joining our community, please fill in this form and I will send you an invitation to the private Slack space! We can discuss the future of Oneironotes in more detail there.

Super perfundo on the early eve of your day.

Laurens

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Are you dreaming? ;-)