This is a great question, posed by amyb0223. The above link leads to her original post. I decided to post my own commentary here since I like to get quite fambly.
I've kept a journal privately since 1984. I read Anne Frank when I was very young--nine or so--and I always thought that keeping a journal would be a fascinating idea. I even wondered if someday someone might like to read it. Not that my life was terribly interesting: in 1981, at age nine, my day revolved around playing dolls; and I gave up journaling very quickly. However, by the time I was 12, I needed my journal badly. My life was no longer a typical child's life--at least not in my opinion. I was a blind child. I had forgotten about the idea that someone might read my journal; and I filled it with all kinds of very personal thoughts, many of which were extremely negative and even unkind. However, as the years went by, I also included pieces that were evidence of my maturing process.
In time, I threw out a lot of the very old entries. I regret that choice now. At some point, I found a cassette recording I had made of selected entries; and I transcribed them back into my journal. However, I cannot salvage the lost entries before 1988, and only a handful still remain. It is one of my deepest regrets; for that kid could write some pretty profound stuff.
When I discovered online diary sites (LJ was not the first), my idea was to chronicle life with disabilities, my views about theology, and my thoughts about current events and other topics of interest to me. At some point I thought of putting some of those old entries online. After all, perhaps someone might care to know what life in the 1980s was like for a teen with disabilities. I was less selective than I should have been, and I discovered after reading my own journal that I might not like to stumble upon it if I was one of the people I had spoken negatively about--the writer had not changed any names or details. So I embarked upon a major editing effort that may or may not have been as successful as I wanted it to be in stripping what I felt would be dishonoring to other parties in my life.
Now how do I view my LJ? I suppose I view it as something between a blog and a journal that is shared in public. A blog is something I see as commentary on important issues or current events; and I do a fair amount of this. I also do a fair amount of journaling. I also store up things like notes from presentations; and that probably doesn't fall under either of these definitions. I'm not the type of person who writes about daily happenings, although if it's something significant that I need to remember I may write it down.
My LJ is very edited because it is mostly public. It is searchable via Google--I figure that if I'm going to have a public journal, it may as well be findable. So I have removed some very personal entries. If something is semi-personal, but I do want to share it with a select group, I do occasionally use the friends or filter function. I also keep a master journal on my personal computer that is unedited as well as a copy of the content posted on my LJ.
Since my LJ is public, I do tend to feel that I develop some kind of relationship with my readers. In fact, I've made some new friends via my LJ. So some of my content is directed toward my readers. I'm not above posting an occasional update just to let them know how I'm doing. Sadly, I've seen people's reactions when an LJ acquaintance dies. I am acutely aware that for the reader, the person writing the LJ is not always just a stranger. If the entries are personal or very reflective, the writer matters and the loss of the writer can matter. So I think the personal updates can matter.
This is also why I use the voice post feature and why I have my picture on my posts. I think it lends a personal touch to my journal that helps me become more real to my visitors.
So there you have it. I'd love to hear from you all, either in a comment or on your own LJ... How do you view your journal? And a special question to zeldakitty and __kara: Did your view of your journal change after Katrina?
A sad note: One of my LJ friends just deleted her journal... I will miss her so much...