It’s not precisely one year on two counts. To begin with, The Frailest Thing existed in its first iteration as early as September 2009. I was then a true rookie blogger and working on another platform which shall remain nameless (rhymes with Frogger). That effort never quite got off the ground. By June 2010, however, I was ready to try again, and that is when the present version was launched. Secondly, the first post on this site was published on June 2, so we are actually at a year and a few days. Nonetheless, being a glutton for nostalgia, I’ve decided to take a retrospective glance back at the past year on the blog. I realize this will likely be of little interest to anyone but myself, but here it is anyway.
First, some highlights:
The Most Viewed Post: The Cost of Distraction: What Kurt Vonnegut Knew
A look at the downside of digital distraction through the lens of Harrison Bergeron, this post was featured on Freshly Pressed over a weekend last August and garnered not only the most hits on record, but also the most comments.
Runner Up: Is Sport a Religion? My first post to be featured on Freshly Pressed was inspired by the World Cup. At the time, still relatively new to WordPress, I was unaware of the Freshly Pressed feature. It was a fun surprise.
The Most Viewed Post (Without the Help of Freshly Pressed): Gods of Love and War
A reflection on technology through the myth of Hephaestus, the lame Greek god of metallurgy. You’d be surprised how many people search for Hephaestus.
Runner Up: Life Amid the Ruins. A lot of people search for Vanitas Art as well.
The Most Thoughtful Comments: PerpetuallyFrank
Not that all who comment are not always thoughtful (clearing throat), but I must express my appreciation for the frequent and engaging comments provided by PerpetuallyFrank. Cheers!
Thanks as well, of course, to all who comment including to those friends who I know will at least read out of some sense of fraternal obligation, but have also generously plugged this blog (Messrs. Ridenhour, Fridsma, Greenwald, and Garcia, for example, among others).
The Most Intriguing Comment Thread: Agitate For Beauty
The aforementioned PerpetuallyFrank and my colleague Chris Friend engaged in a very intriguing exchange on the subject of telepathy. Go read it for yourself.
The Best Compliment: Tom Fox
“I have to tell you, Michael, you are one of the best writers I’ve never heard of before. Please take it as a compliment.” I did. On When Words and Action Part Company.
The Links I’ve Appreciated: Tie
In fact, many thanks to all of you who have seen fit to link back here and list The Frailest Thing on your blog rolls.
The Most Underrated Post (By Which I Mean the Post I Rather Liked That Got Relatively Little Traffic): Tie
It’s not too late, they’re out there, just waiting to be read.
The Most Frequent Search Term Leading Here: “Don Draper” and some variation on Martha Nussbaum
The Oddest Search Term Leading Here: Unmentionable (at least on a classy blog such as this!)
I guess that’s what happens when you have a post titled Gods of Love and War in which you refer to the sordid sex lives of the Greek gods.
Moving on, it is always a bit of a surprise when the author of some piece I’ve blogged about drops a comment. This has happened on a few occasions, and has usually been positive. So my thanks to following for dropping in.
Linda Stone and Adam Thierer on Technology Sabbaths and Other Strategies for the Digitized World
Mark D. Bowles on Warning: A Liberal Education Leads to Independent Thinking
Arikia Millikan on “The Storm is What We Call Progress”
Tom Scocca on Obama Talks with a Computer
Elizabeth Drescher on Multitasking Monks
And finally, some thoughts.
Some one must have come up with a law of writing whereby the ease of composition varies inversely to the obscurity of the audience. If not, there it is. Writing a letter (I know, who am I kidding, just fill in whatever — email, text, etc.) to someone you know: generally easy. Writing a blog post to whoever happens to read it: less so. It probably doesn’t help matters that I tend to be introspective, perhaps to a fault (case in point).
Writing in a more public venue, however, has forced me to be a little more rigorous with the writing and thinking. I realize that this is still a rather informal space, but someone may read what I am writing and that generates a sense of responsibility to the reader. If someone is going to invest a few minutes to read a post (as you are presumably doing right now) I owe it to them to avoid careless or confusing writing. And besides, on a more self-interested note, no one wants to come off as an idiot when they write something others will read.
As far as the content, the first two or three months featured a wider variety of topics than what I end up posting these days. Not surprisingly my own context ends up guiding a good deal of the writing process. I am a graduate student and so there is a certain compulsion toward writing about what I am reading which tends to revolve around technology, writing and reading, and, lately, memory. Perhaps I’ll try to expand the scope a bit moving forward. I’m torn between finding a niche and falling into a rut. Hopefully, there’s a nice middle ground between the two.
I have also been a teacher for over ten years, s0 on here I hope to make much of what I read in an academic context a little more accessible, which is not to say that I aim to dumb it down. Ideally, I imagine that there is this broad and generous space between the arcane and the simplistic. That’s the target area I’m aiming for.
Feel free, of course, to let me know how well I’m managing that!
Cheers, and thanks for reading. I think I’ll give this a go for another year.