Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Happy to be judged by the company I keep
I launched p3 seven years ago this month with a simple mission: In those pre-WikiLeaks days, where could someone post important information, like the formula to Coca-Cola or the DOD's nuclear launch codes, while remaining secure in the knowledge that no one was ever likely to stumble upon it?
Since December 2004, p3 has let me indulge my passions for free speech, civil liberties, and the workings of persuasion and the media, largely uninterrupted by comments or web traffic. It's also let me extend myself in such areas as limericks, celebrity separated-at-birth images, plus classic animation and political cartooning. It has covered a wide base of topics while doggedly retaining what one friend of the site called “an almost Rain Man-like inability to connect with a steady audience.” (Yes, it was a friend.)
Which is why I'm delighted to see p3 among the Best Posts of the Year, Chosen by the Bloggers Themselves, a celebration of the “small blogs” we all probably would be reading if we actually knew they were out there. The p3 post in question is this meditation on the difference between the smallpox virus and the (dis)appearance of the word “nigger” in “Huckleberry Finn.” The full list of nominees, as well as the tradition behind the event, are described here by Batocchio, who did the heavy lifting this year in the lamented absence of tradition founder Jon Swift.
Even though it was a self-nomination (what? Markos Moulitsas never promotes his own site?), as I cast my eye down the list of the singled-out, I'm delighted to see such p3 friends as Mad Kane, Lance Mannion, Melissa McEwan, and Batocchio -- none of whom, come to think about it, do I really think of as running a “small blog.”
Reading the list, I also realized there are a lot of other blogs I regularly read when recommended (often by someone else on the list) but should be reading regularly anyway. The annual end-of-year site design overhaul will be a good time to bring more of those onto the p3 blogroll.
Meanwhile, what better occasion to look back at some of the p3 big hits and near misses of years gone by?
Over the years, some of my most-visited posts, not counting five years of railing against All Things Bush (which, statistically speaking, is a little like saying “some of of the top sites on the Internet, not counting porn”) have been predictable, but more often not:
One of the all-time crowd favorites remains this 2009 piece on the Supreme Court's “Mad Magazine exception” for parody as protected speech. I cranked it out in an hour following an appearance by Mad writer and p3 god Frank Jacobs on a PBS special, and it's been drawing hits ever since.
(A thematically-related piece two years earlier was one of my own favorites, but probably got lost in the swell of news that week.)
Another heavily-visited post earned its traffic much less on the merits than on the shameless concatenation of three can't-miss keywords in the title. I saw the lesson there but only partly learned it.
The popularity of one particular heavily-visited post from years gone by was an unfortunate side-effect of my love of Latinisms. The point of the article, a theme I kept to fairly often in the Bush years, was my suspicion that a lot of the current crop of conservative commentators had not merely been recruited and subsidized by the GOP and its funding auxiliaries, but were actually grown from pods in secret farms somewhere in the Plains States specifically to perform their function. Alas, the title contained two unpaired words that, while they seemed innocent enough to me, apparently tripped the search-engine triggers of a narrow but highly dedicated sexual fetishist demographic of whose existence I had been happily unaware. (For obvious reasons, no link on this one.)
One of my all-time favorite posts came in the second month of p3's existence, and combined my interest in free speech with Oregon news and my thing for open letters. It was inspired by this unlikely problem: What happens when the American Nazi Party adopts a highway roadside to clean up?
By tradition, every December I consider whether I'm going to continue p3 in the coming year. See you in 2012.