A Camel, a Recycler and a Simple Picture-Taking Request: Piran Café’s Top Posts for May 2016
I’ve been thinking a lot about blogging lately.
About where it was when I began occupying this (and another nearby) corner of the interwebs more than a decade ago, how the concept has evolved and developed in the wake of social media’s rise, and what I’ve missed in the shuffle.
That was partly prompted by this post, A Renewed Case for Blogging, by Jörg M. Colberg on his photography site Conscientious Photography Magazine. Colberg suggests that the boom-and-bust culture created by Silicon Valley, one that everyone is being told they need to keep up with lest they get left behind, really isn’t helping anybody but the corporate sites and apps behind the hype.
That’s nothing that new, but I appreciate the way he said it. He was writing with photographers in mind, but it’s true for most creatives. That drive to keep up with the latest fads, to hang out where others are hanging, amounts essentially to a massive time suck, one that chips away further into the limited time we have to really spend time creating – our own blogs, for instance—instead of contributing to another where others write the rules and decide who sees what, when and how often.
That’s all fed and contributed to what’s become a drab uniformity on the web, both within social media giants like Facebook and Instagram, and I’d argue, has even seeped into blogs themselves, many of which have little in common with what a blog was a decade ago.
And what exactly was that?
I described it this way when I was blogging about Slovenia’s role in the refugee crisis last fall after I received several emails from readers clamoring that my “articles” weren’t complete or, worse, one-sided:
As a blog, it’s made up of blog posts — not articles. While the distinction has become blurred over the years, I still essentially subscribe to what blogging was at the “beginning”, what made it exciting and attractive to me, what Andrew Sullivan describes as “its conversational essence, its essential errors, its ephemeral core, its nature as the mode in which writing comes as close as it can to speaking extemporaneously.”
That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with evolution and change in blogging; I welcome it. But not when the result is drab uniformity resulting in too many sites that are mirror images –and poor ones at that– only because social media tells us that’s how it should be.
Ten years ago, blogging was all the rage. I’m very happy to have been part of what happened back then, to a large extent because experiencing (and being part of) the general excitement that existed among the bloggers was just great. Back then, my main concern was that once corporations would make people move from individual blogs to centrally controlled sites a lot of that excitement would disappear, in part because things would become a lot more homogeneous. That’s exactly what happened once Facebook took over.
He’s not pining for some ‘good ole days’ pre-Facebook or even pre-Instagram. Neither am I. I’m just starting to see much more clearly what I’ve felt for awhile: that the era of social networks isn’t necessarily what it’s forebears hoped it would be. I’m resisting most of the new tools because I don’t see the point. I really just want to spend more time blogging and less time liking.
More from Colberg:
The last thing I’d want this piece to be is some sort of “told you so.” Instead, as someone who has been heavily involved in blogging about photography, I thought it would be worthwhile pointing out that we simply have a choice: we can run after the latest fads and buy into the latest tech bullshit coming out of Silicon Valley. Or we don’t. And thinking about blogging really is not just pining for the good old days. I think by now we have seen enough things to assess what is useful for photography and what just adds noise (and funnels more cash into corporate coffers).
I count at least half a dozen themes in this rambling and somewhat incoherent rant –mine, not Colberg’s– for blog posts of their own. I’ll get to them once I start blogging more again.
That’s all by of introduction to this rundown of Piran Cafe’s top-five most-visited posts for the month gone by, one which saw a large heaping of photos but few longer posts.
One I planned but haven’t yet got around to was another Doha, Qatar gallery made up of shots from my most recent visit there early in the month, which I planned to head up with today’s lead photo, above.
Those are the resting hands of Omar McLeod, a Jamaican athlete who is currently the finest high hurdler in the world and one of the medal favorites for this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio. It was my favorite photo taken in May 2016 so I decided it belongs here.
Tori Bowie is one of the fastest women on the planet, a medal favorite in the 100 meters at the Rio Olympics later this summer. She also owns one of the planet’s most infectious laughs. I caught up with her briefly in Doha, Qatar, early last month on the eve of the kick-off competition of the 2016 IAAF Diamond League series, where she sat with a few reporters to discuss her season, her history, and what she’s hoping for her future. And to laugh.
Another shot of one of world’s ubiquitous recyclers. This one was taken on Carrera 13 near Avenida El Dorado in Bogota, Colombia, but could have been made in any one of at least 150 countries where anonymous armies of trash separators and collectors fulfill a role that their local municipality won’t or adequately can’t.
As the title suggests, simply a picture of a camel, with its face partially covered, taken about an hour after sunrise in the desert of southern Qatar near the Khor al Adaid Inland Sea. Because one of the last things anyone wants just after sunrise in a desert in southern Qatar is to be spit on by a camel.
Given my mini rant about social media, I was delighted to see this one strike a chord large enough to be shared and liked enough to see it come in at No. 1. It’s a brief open memo aimed primarily at travel and lifestyle bloggers requesting that they stop taking stupid photos. Or, to at least stop unleashing them upon the world. Many have thanked me. You’re welcome.
The photo? It’s got nothing to do with the post, just a suggestion that a photo of a mirrored reflection of a penis with flippers crawling to a piece of land a la Darwin wrapped in a boa-type thing is a much more interesting subject for a photo than one of your feet dangling from a hammock.
Travel-wise, I’ll be back in Oslo for the first time since 2011; given the early summer timing, I was hoping to be able to pull off a longer stay to take advantage of Norway’s insanely long June days. That won’t come to pass this year unfortunately, so I’ll try to make the most of this week’s three night visit.
As always, many thanks for reading, sharing and commenting. Please don’t stop. Your interest is very much appreciated. Happy June and even Happier Summer to you.
Bloggers and readers: What was your most visited blog post published in May? Feel free to drop the link in the comments. Would love to check them out, too.