I was invited by the folks over at Grantourismo to participate in a project called “My 7 Links.” It may strike some as a bit like a digital chain letter, but I think the intentions of its creators at the travel site Trip Base were pure. It is easy for posts to get lost in the ever-expanding digital landscape. Sometimes, it is worth it to look back over what you have posted and attempt to learn a few things. Dredging up 7 posts that met the basic criteria of the My 7 Links Project made me think about the arc of this blog, what I am doing with it and where it may be headed. Essentially, I was flattered to be selected by a site as rich and thoughtful as Lara and Terence’s Grantourismo and I enjoyed going back through the archives to see just what I thought about my own work.
Trip Base’s blog editor got the project kicked off here with a simple mandate, “bloggers publish 7 links from their blog to share lessons learned and create a bank of long but not forgotten blog posts that deserve to see the light of day again.” She also notes, “I never really know if a post will take off or die a slow death… like most bloggers, I realize I still have so much more to learn!” The only other requirement is that you pick 5 bloggers you would like to see engage in the same exercise (mine are listed at the bottom). So, without anymore fuss— My 7 Links.
Most Beautiful Bungee Terminal at Night in Flood
This is not my most accomplished post from a writing perspective. I selected it as my most beautiful post because I do think that the photograph is attractive simply as a piece of art. However, it is the context that puts this one over the top for me. The entire Mississippi River delta was threatened by flooding earlier this year and much was made of the power of the river. This hour-long night photograph shows an inundated grain silo on the banks of the river with the stars making their unceasing rotation through the night’s sky. For me it captured a moment of crisis as a moment of reflection and beauty. And for that, I selected it as my most beautiful post.
Most Popular Rayne Tornado
Much of the United States has experienced freak weather this year including devastating tornados across much of the south and mid-west. Louisiana was not spared in all of this as is attested by these photographs of the small, Cajun town of Rayne (better known for its annual Frog Festival). A regional news site picked up the link and this led to an increased number of views on the post. But, I think it would have garnered some attention on its own because of the combination of tragedy and hopefulness you can see in the faces of the people of Rayne.
Most Controversial Mexico Kit
I am reluctant to bring this post back up again just because of the unpleasantness it caused the first time around. I was headed to Mexico in the early spring and some reader of my blog objected to my trip based on some incorrect (or at least, from my perspective, incomplete) information about a previous period at my business where we had run into cash flow problems. A nasty back-and-forth ensued with the original poster, who chose to remain anonymous and still post rather slanted comments. A quick IP search narrowed down the location of the individual and the comments stopped after the veil was pulled back a bit. It was a storm in a teacup, but not the sort of thing I was used to or particularly welcomed. The fracas has made me consider the tone and content of comments I leave on other webpages, though I have always made an effort to identify myself online.
Most Helpful Rising Water
It is hard to say if anyone found this time-lapse movie helpful. It depicts a few hours on the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge as the early stages of the flood of 2011 were pressing down on us. But, it did seem to resonate with readers as links to the video were shared widely. At the time, everyone was working on anxiety and speculation. So, a somewhat jaunty little movie depicting commerce on the river may have filled in some of the gaps for those of us who remained curious about what all that coming, high-water might look like.
Most Surprising Persimmon and Habanero Chutney
Cooking posts are always popular. People enjoy looking at pictures of food and they also seem to like actionable bits of information like recipes. A D.I.Y food blog called Punk Domestics picked up this post, but even before that it got a lot of hits. It never occurred to me as I was buying a plastic sack full of oozing persimmons and trying to figure out what to do with them that a quickly composed post would still be getting hits years later. The photos leave a lot to be desired by the standards of contemporary food blogging but this little post keeps drawing in readers every week.
Most Underrated The Virgin of Panecillo
Originally, this post was sent out as an email to a large group of folks to whom I formerly directed such missives. Later, I posted it on the site and it has languished there every since. Maybe it is because my photos from that day were not strong. Maybe it remains little read because I did a poor job of conveying the electricity of the day I had in Quito, Ecuador. Whatever the reason for this post going largely unread, I feel like it is me at my most honest and, perhaps, most vulnerable as a writer. The experience is dressed up in sometimes-flowery language but every writer holds things back when they commit their words to publication. On this day, it still feels like I knocked down a lot of the walls that writers put up to protect themselves. It was an amazing time, for not necessarily clear reasons, and I wasn’t timid about expressing that. So yeah, I think it remains my most underrated post on this blog.
Most Proud Of Box of Letters
In the midst of a summer of wide-ranging travel that took me to South America, across 6,000 miles of the North American interior and through much of central Europe by train I began to have some thoughts about the nature of blogging. Sometimes it feels very one-sided. I had recently come across a hatbox filled with letters from the early part of the 19th century. They had all been written to a long-dead maternal relative and thus were only other people’s correspondence to him. Reading the letters, I began to construct a picture of this relative, but it occurred to me that this picture was made up only of the observations of others. I didn’t have access to his replies or any journals written in his hand. Blogging is sort of the other side of this relationship, wherein a story is written about the experiences of one person but it is hard to imagine how the people the blog was directed towards felt about the information. Advances in blogging software have made commenting on posts far easier than they used to be (even if a glitch in mine has erased many of the responses that fleshed out this digital epistle). I suppose I remain proud of this post because it tries to imagine the whole conversation that takes place on a blog, even with readers who may never comment. Because, all writers, to some extent or another, are writing to someone. In imagining who that someone is and conceiving a place where they all met and talked to one another I think I first began to get my head around the phenomenon that is blogging and for that I am still proud of this post…. and I’d still like to see them all together one day.
Nomination of 5 Bloggers:
Describe the Clouds (I know that Grantourismo already nominated Mike’s main blog Quarter Year so I don’t want to overwork him, but I like where he was going with Describe the Clouds)
Shoplifting in a Ghost Town
Strobist (Even though I don’t shoot Nikon and I do very little flash photography, this guy has done great things)
Roots and Grubs
The four other folks that Grantourismo nominated: