For me, the ideal form of communication - a mixture of the written (rather than spoken) word; and still (rather than moving) images. And - most important - the blogging format does not require the closure of narrative that novel writing or movie making requires. I'm not good at inventing endings.
I started blogging to record the changes that were going on around me in the southern edges of Poland's capital; the pace of change has been great, far greater than in the suburban West London from which I moved.
So here it is, copy'n'pasted, a pristine piece of html from 1 April 2007, my first-ever blog post on W-wa Jeziorki.
Ul. Trombity is one of Warsaw's more fascinating streets. More than one mile/1.6km long, it is full of contrast - new houses, old houses, farmyard animals, wildlife, wetlands; airliners fly over it, trains trundle past it - there's so much to see. The end of ul. Trombity is less than seven and half miles from the very centre of Warsaw (junction of ul. Marszalkowska and al. Jerozolimskie), and yet the neighbourhood has a distinctly rural air. The street is located in the Warsaw district of Ursynów, though on the other side of the busy ul. Puławska. This area, Jeziorki, is a far cry from the blocks of high-density housing usually associated with Ursynów.
That was it! Short and sweet. As I'm in London right now, I can't stroll down Trombity to recreate the photo; little has changed in this vista. Looking 180 degrees behind me, I'd see a glade of tree-stumps where once an orchard stood.
Over those ten years, my writing style has improved, as has my photography, aided by ever-better cameras and lenses. The '10,000-hour theory' posits that mastery can be attained by putting in that time. Now, over those ten years, I've published 2,467 posts. At an average of an hour and half per post, I'm a more than a third of my way there. Assuming my output doesn't drop dramatically (which it might); I should attain mastery of the blog form sometime around by 80th birthday...
Here, then, are the five most popular posts, according to Google...
A mixed bag of subjects; my (tragically) prescient post about the danger of flying passenger planes over the war zone in eastern Ukraine led to a TV interview on BBC's Newsnight; my photos of Captain Wrona's gear-up approach over our garden ended up on an NBC News documentary, while the Gold Rush story... I'm in talks with Discovery Science channel about the Gold Train... Nikon may (possibly) be thinking of manufacturing a full-frame mirrorless camera along the lines of the one I mocked up on the post about the D3200 vs FujiFilm X100...
But above all, this blog has been about capturing change - in Poland, in Warsaw, in Jeziorki. New roads, railway line modernisation, new buildings, development, progress. Again, my initial intention was to lay down a trail for my older self to track back along a timeline to feel that change over the years... and one day, after Michael Dembinski is dead and gone, a boy born sometime in the second half of this century will feel this intense, inexplicable fascination with Great Britain in the second half of the 20th century, and Poland in the first half of the 21st century, and will find the digital echoes of this blog...
Once upon a time, when internet was still spelt with a capital 'I', I postulated that some time in the future, it would allow me to have my very own TV channel with a global audience of ten. Well, moving images with spoken words proved to be beyond my grasp (if you don't master these arts by the time you're 25, you never will), but the blogging form has worked well for me. Here in the depths of Lent, when my readership traditionally plummets, I've still got well over 15,000 page views this month. This is not the same as 15,000 readers - according to Google Analytics, over the past month, I've had 1,280 individual users visiting the blog, so each one visits around 12 times per month on average.
Where are my readers from?
No surprises there then. This is what I had expected. And an answer to all those who ask czemuż nie piszę po polsku - well, nearly two-thirds of my readers are not from Poland, and most of those live in English-speaking countries.
On, then, to the next ten years, and from there - some more!
This time last year:
Białystok the Dull
This time four years ago:
UK's first town where Poles are a majority
This time five years ago:
Lost legend of rock'n'roll: Johnny Kołyma
This time six years ago:
Stalin's plans to escalate nuclear Armageddon
This time seven years ago:
Warsaw's favourite weekend destination
This time eight years ago:
We are two
This time nine years ago:
Crushed velvet dusk in my City of Dreams
This time ten years ago:
My second Jeziorki blog post, also from this day