Electric Dreams

The Future of Dream Journaling Software.

Harry Bosma 

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Bosma, Harry (2000 January). The Future of Dream Journaling Software. Electric Dreams 7(1). Retrieved July 14, 2000 from Electric Dreams on the World Wide Web: http://www.dreamgate.com/electric-dreams

There are basically three developments for dream journals I hope to see in the future: leveraging the internet, use of language recognition technology and easy to use movie making.

The internet has the potential to help both novice dreamers and experienced dreamers. A big issue for novice dreamers is validation of their dreams. After all the mainstream view of dreams in our society is that dreams are weird. Fortunately that's mostly a matter of ignorance. A place where dreamers can meet and exchange experiences would help to make dreams feel more normal. The internet is the perfect medium for just that.

Both novice and experienced dreamers are interested in symbolic interpretation, participation in dream groups and special projects on mutual dreaming and precognition. Here too the internet offers many possibilities.

To see how the internet can affect dream journaling software I have to get a bit technical. The current generation of journaling software - like most other software - still works on an individual computer completely separated from the internet. The exact opposite is already possible. Nowadays software can just as well run on a website. As long as you're connected people won't even notice if software is running on their own machine or somewhere on the internet at the other side of the world. Within a few years most people will be continuously connected to the internet, using i.e. cable connections. For various reasons I don't expect you'd want to use dream journaling software running on the internet, but a hybrid running partly on your own machine and partly on the internet may be very interesting.

Hybrid local/internet software would make it possible to offer a dream for discussion on the internet, to have people share personal symbol dictionaries, look for discussions of similar dreams, etc, all within the same dream journaling package. Use of the internet would make it possible to tap virtually unlimited resources. Of course, email and simple websites can do a lot too, but I feel it's too cumbersome and not enough.

The second development I hope to see is use of language recognition. Basically language recognition is the ability of computers to understand natural language as written and spoken by us humans. In a very primitive form this is already being used in dictation software. In a more advanced form it could do quantitative analysis of dreams, detect recurring themes and possible even ask some smart questions to help reflection. Naturally, what most people really want is out-of-the -box dream interpretation, but I'm very skeptical about that.

The third development has to do with trying to capture dreams more directly then by writing down a description. Many dreamers already draw quick pictures and sketches, but what really would be nice are animations or cartoon movies. Most of the basic technology already exists, think about the 3D engines used in graphics games. The problem is that you need a lot of time to create something. I've seen examples of software for children that makes creation very easy but at the cost of very few options. The current trade-off between options and easy of use seems unnecessary to me and that's where I expect huge improvements.

Graphics software is of course a class of software on its own, but eventually to the user of dream journaling software it should feel like it's an integral part of the journaling environment. I know that Richard Wilkerson would like to see movies automatically generated from a dream description. Vice versa, it should be possible to generate a description from a movie in case you generated the movie manually and skipped the description. That way all other future features based on an internet connection and language recognition can still be used as well.

With enough financial resources, anything can be done here. The hardest part is language recognition and some people are pessimistic that we will ever get that right. The development of graphics software is hard to predict, but it's primarily a matter of continued development, not of fundamental research as needed with language recognition. Everything related to the internet is already possible.


Alchera, dream interpretation software: