In praise of the mundane

I started taking blogging seriously this summer.  One conspicuous byproduct of this is that I began gathering/paying attention to statistics associated with my work here: who reads what, how often, when, and so forth.  Some of it isn’t surprising: Monday and Tuesday are by far the biggest traffic days, Saturday and Sunday the least.  Some of it is: I’m surprised at how many views some individual photos get.  And some of it is both expected and disappointing: gear posts are by far my most trafficked.

In the last two weeks, the Marquette preview post got the most views.  It’s an odd yet intriguing piece of gear with little published info, thus the interest (and number of google searches) is understandable.  But this past months most trafficked post is about my ski clothing.  Snore.

It’s a disturbing trend, the gear-centricity of outdoor blogging.  I take blogging seriously, if for no other reason than that abysmal content in mainstream print and online publications leave me no other choice.  Too many pro outdoor writers don’t know what they’re writing about, or pretend not to in order to make a living.  Instead you have sites like the 800 pound gorilla of BC ski blogs, Wild Snow, with content generated by experts.  Unfortunately, gear posts drive readership, which drives revenue.  In the last week exactly one post at Wild Snow concerns itself with the direct act of making turns, and it is one of the two shortest posts available.

Wild Snow is a good example of a general trend in outdoor blogs, wherein its content can be grouped into three categories: tech posts, terse “stoke” posts, and Big Trip posts (which typically feature a substantial gear pre and post mortem).  I would put forth the thesis that most outdoor blogging can be dissected into comparable categories, with blogs often choosing to emphasize one category over the others.  Some of my favorites feature Big Trips to the virtual exclusion of all others.  The problem here, as Doom and RJ demonstrate, is that Big Trips don’t happen all that often.  This approach means less frequent content, and while I’m an advocate of waiting to speak until you have something to say, I also think that the act of publicly articulating the value of daily and weekly outings, the mundane, is important.

Witness the master of elevating and expounding upon the profundity of the mundane, Jill Homer.  Long before I met and went on adventures with Jill I admired her ability to wring salient details out of even the most miserably routine of outings.  Beyond making her a better (and continually improving) writer, I have no doubt that this ability not only resulted in her success in ultra endurance endeavors, it is one of the reasons why her work is so popular.  What is right will not always be popular, but in this case Jill points towards ways in which most of us can elevate our pursuit, that pursuit being sharing and propagating enthusiasm for a world that is wonderful in even the littlest details.

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6 thoughts on “In praise of the mundane

  1. Sorry, Dave but I typically gloss over your gear posts and read your TRs with interest. Although I admit I did appreciate the Skiing Gear List article because it’s a topic I’ve struggled with for years. The reader-trends on my blog are similar to yours as well. I rarely do gear-specific posts but when I do there is always a spike in readership on those articles.

    I find a strange dichotomy in myself because I manage an online gear retail shop yet am not much of a consumer myself. I appreciate gear a lot but would rather spend my time thinking about where it’s going to get me than what the next piece I’m going to get is.

  2. I tend to think that it is the gear that helps people to go out. They want to be prepared for the unknown. They’re afraid of the “wild”.

    But I agree with your sentiments, the gear centricity of outdoor blogs – and I am not taking myself out there – gets tired. I actually get tired of writing the gear posts lately, as other circumstances keep me close to home, I am only able to steal away for some hours to play in the snow and free the mind of the mundane. So Gear posts it is, until I am able to go for a skiing/ snowshoeing trip. There’s at least something in looking forward to a trip.

    1. Hendrik, you do a stellar job of gear write-ups and you’ve got the following to prove it. That’s a wonderful aspect of the “blogosphere”. Some writers are trip focused, others write about gear, and yet another group writes about food, etc etc.

      This diversity across bloggers also relates to the comments you made Dave regarding a “lack of content” between Big Trips. If you look at his from the point of view of a reader with a long list of RSS feeds, rather than from the perspective of a blog writer with just one feed those diversity requirements are met. It is our job as writers to produce quality content to add to our reader’s RSS stream.

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