Dream diaries on your smart phone – now, that’s convenience incarnate. Especially if they come with extra online bells and whistles. Yes, of course, I have a nicely-bound-beautiful-old-fashioned-dream-diary-in-real-honest-to-goodness-paper-book-form on my night stand… okay, in my nightstand. Let’s face it, I have my iphone in my hands before I get up. So, as long as I can be sure I’ll have my phone in my hand before my morning coffee, I might as well use it to keep my dream journal.

Recently, I’ve been testing the two biggest dream diary apps: DreamBoard, and DreamsCloud. Both are supported by an online website (with helpdesk technical support), are developed with the input of dream experts, and are usable online without smart phone as well. As a bonus I looked into the dream app promised for later this year, Shadow.

App #1: DreamBoard

“An online personal tool, tailored to track your dreams day by day

DreamBoard is an online dream journal that helps you generate additional insight by gathering data about your dreams. The developers were inspired by the Quantified Self movement, which has become all the rage in the last few years, focusing on health, exercise, diet and more. In Dutch we have a saying which sums the concept up nicely: measuring is knowing.

The folks at DreamBoard don’t see the need to get your dream interpreted by third parties – you are the owner of your own nightly mentation. And the app works in a very simple fashion to support this. On waking up, you choose to add a new dream, describe it, click on emoticons that best match your emotions from the dream, enter names of people who were present, click to choose important colours that popped up in the dream, etc.

In the web interface, from your computer, you can later (after having coffee) describe your dream in full detail or add further insights which might have since occurred to you. This in itself makes DreamBoard a useful dream diary, but after filling out a series of your dreams, the fun really starts. In the blink of an eye, the app and website find and visualise patterns and trends from your nightly thought life. What people, colours, places, emotions, etc. are the most prevalent?

Juicy details pop up – like do you dream about yourself all the time, or other people? Who do you dream about the most? The reporting that the app gives you (when combined with the ability to read back over your dream diary) helps give you an objective view of your dream life, and hopefully a better understanding of yourself.

For the scientific support, the developers have contracted dream expert Patrick MacNamara of Boston University, and as a bonus, he blogs on the website about dreams from a scientific perspective.

Pluses

  • Better insight through data
  • User-friendly, clean interface
  • Open to feedback from users
  • Easy to use

Minuses

  • It is not possible to post dreams on social media, or email to friends
  • While the app itself is fast, the supporting website is slow
  • To make changes to your dream, you must go to the website as it can’t be done on the app directly (but they are working on it)

Available in English and Italian for iOS and Android

 

DreamBoard

DreamBoard

DreamBoard

App #2: DreamsCloud

“We make sense of your dreams”

DreamsCloud is a dream diary with the option to share with and reflect on dreams of your fellow app users. The app allows you to write down your dream, and you can add information to it (as it occurs to you) either online or from the app directly. The app is designed to let you share your dream in a variety of ways with others – for example, you can email a dream to a friend to let them know you dreamed about them the night before.

The real distinguishing characteristic of this app, however, is the DreamsCloud community, which gives you the ability to share the dream with other users, and get input on your dreams from complete strangers. If you want, you can even get the reflections of a team of professionals (at an extra cost). The app gives you an extensive website, access to dream experts, more information on dreams (articles, blogs, etc.).

Unfortunately, as with any online forum, there are pluses and minuses to this approach. While there are people who give a nuanced response, there are also of course people who may, through no fault of their own, do more harm than good. While I am a big believer in helping each other investigate dreams, it’s important to remember that there is work involved. It’s a question of reflection versus projection – and making sure that you’re not lapsing into superficial psychologising based on your own personal prejudices. And it seems that there is no moderation from the DreamsCloud people to help avoid this. There is a form to fill out should someone engage in inappropriate behaviour, but that’s more focused on lewdness than on simply having a selfish tendency to overpower people with your own interpretation of their dreams.

DreamsCloud stresses that you are the only person capable of interpreting your dream, but then why do they themselves helpfully give you interpretations of your dream symbols? This gives the impression that projection is at the core of the dreams cloud website (couched in maybes, and perhapses, but still projections), in interpreting dream symbols by pointing to the most obvious meanings.

People who know me and this blog, know that my method is based on the fact that I have never heard two people truly make the same link with any dream symbol. It’s the little differences that are important. While DreamsCloud may for example characterize dreams of bathrooms as usually being about something we’d rather not admit to ourselves, but hereby is projecting a cultural point of view (i.e. we don’t talk about bathrooms in the western world). But I think the differences between someone ashamed to still wet the bed at twelve, a person who cleans toilets for a living, and someone diagnosed with colon cancer, or those people who just need to go to the rest room in their sleep (and weave that into their dream) are important. As I’ve said before, if you bring someone else’s thought processes over your dreams, you may run the risk of their view covering up your own original intelligence.

Pluses

  • Dream diary with the option to get reflection from other users (and professionals at additional cost)
  • The App finds online photographs to illustrate your dream description
  • It’s easy to share dreams with your friends on facebook, or email your dream directly to a friend
  • Very friendly helpdesk

Minuses

  • Supportive website is so large and extensive, that a person can get lost
  • Dreams cloud includes potential dream definitions (a la the dark back alleys of dream dictionaries)
  • Automatic translator is a nice touch, but computers do not know Dutch (and the translator can’t be turned off)

Available for iOS and Android, ostensibly in a variety of languages (though as mentioned, quality may vary)

 

DreamsCloud

DreamsCloud

DreamsCloud