Saturday, 1 April 2017

Ten Years of Blogging

Here it is - from ten years ago. One-sixth (nearly) of my life has been blogged, half (nearly) of my life in Poland has been blogged. My original intention was to follow Jeziorki for one calendar year, over the four seasons... but now it's been 40 seasons, and I'm sticking to it.

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...

High over eastern Ukraine     15 Jul 2014              8,641 views

Gold Train Rush part II          29 Aug 2015            7,742 views

D3200 shoots X100              02 Mar 2013             7,616 views

Landing of SP-LPC               01 Nov 2011             6,402 views

Gold Train update                 31 Aug 2015            5,856 views

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


dr Marcin said...

Hi Mike,

You can't even realize, how GOOD job you do! If there's any Pulitzer on blogging then you should be prized as a first. Each of yours posts is a kind of masterpiece, an Art for the Eternity, and a fixing for the History of a small pieces of the World changing permanently.

I wish you next thousands posts and tens of thousands pics.

All the very best.

student SGH said...

It's been a pleasure to keep up with you for over eight years out that decade. Hope we will celebrate in another ten years!

Ian Wilcock said...

Hi, since I moved to Zgorzala in 2008 your blog has been a view into the area around Warsaw I now call home. Not only here but through your travels around Warsaw you have led me to visit places I would never have known about meaning I have probably visited more of Poland than I have of the UK. On top of this your articles into life, the soul and other areas are thought provoking and insightful. Long may the blog continue, Ian