Thirty years in the life of a diary is something to celebrate. It is quite remarkable that a project launched as a means of generating revenue for the administrative functions of SANZAF has seen the light of day for thirty years.
We are in the era of iPads, electronic tablets and mobile phones. These revolutionary tools have had a profound impact on diary record keeping. Digital media is increasingly and rapidly staking territory on the internet blogosphere. In light of these developments it is useful to consider the history of diaries, but with an eye on its future.
The history of diaries, as a form of personal and public record is in itself fascinating. The scholar George Makdisi published a paper in 1986 in which makes a noteworthy point. The diary form originated in the civilisation of Islam, and not in the west, as is popularly believed.
In the west the earliest extant diary is a French work called Journal d'un bourgeois de Paris de 1405 a 1449. In the Islamic world the earliest extant diary dates back to the eleventh century with the work of the diarist Ibn Banna (1005-1079). However, there is evidence that this form of writing among Muslims goes back even as far as the ninth and even the eighth century.