My most popular posts in 2011

I finally got around to taking a look at what my most popular posts were in 2011. I figured, 2012 is half over, probably time to get around to it.

Apparently I need not have done it. Many are the same most popular posts today (see right sidebar). Of these ten, one is from 2005 and one is from 2007. The remaining eight are all from 2010. Seems like nothing I wrote in 2011 had any lingering impact. :)

  1. Social media is gossip (that’s why it works)
  2. Metaphors and similes like bling for words
  3. How to waste your time effectively
  4. Repetition is good so it’s good to repeat ourselves
  5. What are stories?
  6. So it goes: Kurt Vonnegut exits
  7. Short mystery: Michael Chabon and The Final Solution
  8. Visual storytelling: know your medium
  9. What is the point of success?
  10. Facing the stairs

For what it’s worth, the list of most popular posts in 2010 was considerably different.

You need poetry in your posts

What the world really needs is poetry in posts. Seriously. Keep in mind, when we use the word poetry we usually mean it in one of two ways.

There is the very technical use when we are talking about something like a Shakespearean sonnet. But there is also the much more common use, in the general population, where it refers to really damn well done communication.

When it is damn well done communication it often uses metaphors, similes and analogies. It uses examples and descriptive language without going overboard. It creates images that communicate sense and makes what we read relatable and understandable.

Bald facts are boring. And they’re often difficult to wrap your head around. But poetry, in a very broad sense, makes them clear and drives home their meaning. Let’s try an example to see if I can communicate this notion.

I could write a post that would have the merit of being brief by simply writing, “Before any public speaking engagement, it is important to go to the bathroom beforehand.”

Or, I could write this:

About 45 minutes into my two hour lecture before 1,000 students at the University of Ottawa, I crossed my legs. Roughly five minutes later, I crossed them more tightly.

Not long after, perhaps five minutes, I began to perspire freely although the room was climate controlled and quite pleasant. Unfortunately, I had to pee. And I had about 50 more minutes to go at the lectern.

As it turned out, I humiliated myself by peeing my pants before a thousand eyes and thus learned my lesson: always pee before a public engagement!

Imagery conveys meaning and imagery is often the element that adds poetry to a post, in the sense I’m using the word.

Why would a news network send someone to a place devastated by an earthquake when they can simply say it registered 7.9 and over 500 people lost their lives? It costs money to send people all around the world. But the data doesn’t quite convey the meaning. Images of people and structures ravaged by the event do. It makes the event relatable and understandable.

So put some poetry in your posts. Make it mean something to me and everyone else.

Put another way, try telling a story that makes your message vivid.

If the door is locked, use a window

When you find a door locked it’s not unusual to waste a lot of time trying to open it. But it’s locked and no matter what you do it won’t open.

That is when you pause, take a look around and notice the window – and it’s open.

That’s your way in. It can take a while to notice it, however, because you are so focused on that locked door.

That is, in part, what I’ve recently noticed.

I’ve deliberately dropped off from this blog and social media in general the last few months because it was consuming too much time and I have many things that need attending – reworking, restructuring and just plain completed.

Unexpectedly, however, I found myself posting quite a bit on my other site, Piddleville. Why is that?

I’ve wondered about that and have concluded there are a few reasons. Creatively, I can’t just stop. I have to write. And even though a I do a good deal of it in my various jobs, I need to write something that really engages me. (Not that the jobs don’t, but they don’t in quite the same way.)

It also keeps me engaged with the subject of storytelling because movies (which the site is about) are stories and that is what I love. They are also something unconnected to my work (though there is some relationship, albeit tenuous.) In a sense, focusing on them is a kind of mental break from the work, finances and other things I’m focused on. It’s relaxing, even meditative.

From a practical point of view, it is also relatively easy to post on Piddleville because I have such an archive of material that when I can’t post something new, I can re-post material – possibly with some updating – and it is still valid and relevant.

In other words, the Writelife door is shut and locked (though I do have the key, as this post suggests). But the Piddleville window is open and I’m using, though I hadn’t intended to.

I suspect I’ll be returning to Writelife soon since much of what I have been taking care of the last few months is about 85 to 90 percent in place. Just today I started two posts – one on social media, another on Google and usability – but they are “in progress” for now. And somewhere in my head I think I have about sorted out my thinking on the subjects of storytelling and curation.

Hopefully, I will be reengaging very soon.

(Photo: Kal111 — Flickr)

Thumb twiddling

Last year, I began things with a post titled Dear 2010. I haven’t done the same for this year because, when I look back on the year we’ve recently abandoned, I see not one of my requests was fulfilled. Lady Gaga is still all over the place, we’re all still complaining (including myself), and people are still claiming this or that is dead.

Given the backlog, I don’t think it’s a good idea to put more requests in.

By the way, I noted the business of claiming things as dead back in April of 2009 in a post about how everything is dead. It’s really quite remarkable.

More seriously … I still haven’t been able to gear myself up for this year. That is why this post is really a non-post post. I’m still waiting for 2011 to engage me. I wish it would do so quickly. There are quite a few projects I have in mind for this year and the sooner I start, the better.

Let’s get this show on the road!Православни икони