A few days ago Kongo posted his 500th blog. It reminds me of that theoretical statistical scenario about how an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters will eventually reproduce the complete works of Shakespeare. As I look back over this effort that began in November 2011 there are several things I’ve learned and since this is MY blog, I think I’ll share them and would like to hear from others about what they’ve learned on their blogging journey.
One of the coolest aspects of blogging, in my opinion, is meeting new friends from all over the world. Since I started tracking countries, visitors from 117 different countries have visited Kongo. From Andorra to Uzbekistan. I wish Zambia or Zimbabwe would visit so I could do an A-Z comparison but monkeys in Z-countries are fickle. While these may only be virtual friendships they are no less real or meaningful and Kongo hopes to meet one favorite blogger next week when she and her husband visit San Diego!
I’m frequently asked why I blog. There are many answers and unless you’ve done it it’s difficult to understand. Blogging is fun. It is pleasing to get positive feedback and of the 42,000 plus visitors I only recall a single negative comment and that was from someone who objected to my writing a blog in third person and using a monkey as a prop. Well, shoot, you can’t please everyone and it is fun using the monkey because he will say things and offer opinions on subjects that I would never approach in real life. With the monkey I can post just about anything that strikes my fancy. After all, I didn’t say those things…the monkey did. Blame it on the simian! What do monkeys know anyway?
Another aspect of blogging that I very much enjoy and one that I didn’t imagine when I started is that it has rekindled my love of photography. I think my technical skills in this area have improved considerably from November 2011. I seldom go anywhere without a camera now and I’m always looking at the world through a mental lens and wondering whether it would make a worthwhile blog post.
But besides the photography the essence of Kongo’s blog remains travel. The monkey does get around quite a bit and there are always stories and lessons to be learned when you travel. And the monkey likes to tell stories. He also likes reading about the travel adventures of other bloggers and envies their visits to places he hasn’t been to yet. It keeps me thinking about a future trip and that makes life interesting and worthwhile.
There’s a weird side of blogging too. The human side. Monkeys I think are pretty nonplussed about competition but the secret You can’t help but compare your posts to others and your photographs to theirs. Sometimes you are inspired. Sometimes you get jealous over someone else’s seemingly effortless ability to attract hordes of followers. Why is it that that blog Freshly Pressed and they overlooked my brilliant piece I posted only two days ago? I’ve come to not take it as seriously as I used to but every once in a while it leaps up off my computer screen and screams at me. It keeps you working to make the perfect blog post.
Kongo has developed a strong distaste for certain types of blogs. He doesn’t get, for example, the rampant rip-off of intellectual property in the form of using photographs without giving credit. This is particularly galling (to me at least) when they are associated with (and I see this more and more frequently) some religious homily quoting scripture. Seriously? You stole someone’s photograph to preach to me about how a blooming flower is a secret signal to read Romans 13? At least use your own flowers. I guess in general monkeys don’t like being preached at although they are always polite when church groups come knocking and want to share their “good news.”
The monkey has also grown weary of iPhone photos of people’s feet on a beach, fingernail designs, or what they are eating for lunch. Sure it’s a free Internet but shouldn’t these best be on a private Facebook page where they can exchange photos with other people who have a foot fetish? There are just too many feet on a beach photos! It’s not gnarly anymore. Then there are those Instagram filters that let you manipulate an otherwise bad photo in an attempt to somehow make it look avant-garde or edgy. At the end of the day it just looks like a bad photo with weird stuff on it. But what do monkeys know about art?
Photos with crooked horizons bother monkeys. I don’t know why. Whoever said the world is flat, anyway? Kongo also yawns when he sees photos taken from a car or are badly out of focus (not on purpose). Like, get out of the car and focus your camera!
But that’s just the monkey talking; I would never mention those things. Just like I would never mention anything about boring cat photos or sleeping dog snapshots. Everyone must love their pet and why not share they’re every moment with the rest of us? Kongo believes that if you do post a pet photo that you must write a funny story about it to make the pet seem more, I don’t know, …petable or something.
But enough of those negative things. Kongo tries to keep his posts positive and upbeat and mostly succeeds. Or at least he hopes he succeeds.
The fascinating thing about blogging is that sometimes you get to catch a fleeting glimpse into the soul of another. I mean, when you are sharing something with the entire world, maybe even more than 117 countries, there just might be a little bit of you beneath that public smile you usually wear buried in that post somewhere. Kongo likes secrets and he likes trying to figure out what is behind the poster and what they are really all about. Maybe this is too dramatic. Then again, maybe not. Monkeys see the world differently so maybe it’s just a simple post and doesn’t mean anything. But then again…
Humor in blogs is always appreciated. Kongo loves it when a blogger can weave a humorous take on a situation into a blog post and he endeavors to the same whenever he can. Like, have you heard this one? A monkey walks into a bar …
It’s interesting to go back and see which blogs have been the most popular over the past two and a half years. The all time favorite is a post Kongo did about a river cruise he took on the Danube in September 2012. Well over a thousand visits to this and he only hopes his review of that enjoyable experience has inspired many others to head out for the same trek. Every day there are always three or four (sometimes more) visitors to that post.
The second most popular blog is kind of a fluke and it goes to show how nice it is to credit others when you use their material. Back in November 2012 the monkey was in Kiev, Ukraine and took a picture of Independence Square in the heart of the city and posted it. When all the troubles started a few months ago someone used the photo to do a “before and after” image with one showing the riots and burning. The later photo was taken from the same spot and half the picture was Kongo’s and the other half from a Reuter’s reporter. That picture went viral and since Kongo was given credit he got more than 650 hits on that otherwise very ordinary blog post in a single day and ended up with over a thousand before the world moved on to some other crisis. It was fun while it lasted.
One popular post that is really hard to figure out is one Kongo did about Maria Theresa, known as Europe’s Mother in Law and the last of the Hapsburgs. It’s an okay post with a bit of tongue-in-cheek descriptions but hundreds upon hundreds of visitors regularly visit it. Kongo can only imagine that Middle Schools across the country are dishing out homework assignments on the Hapsburgs and the little scholars are finding Kongo’s historical rendition of some use.
One of the monkey’s favorite blog posting subjects involves his two grand girls who live in nearby Los Angeles. Since the maternal grandparents live in Istanbul, every time Kongo posts a picture of one of the two little adorable angels he knows that he’s going to get a bunch of hits from Turkey. So here’s a shout out to Dundar and Tulin: Merhaba!
Travel Safe. Have fun.