Monday, January 16, 2012

2011 Blogging in Review

It's still January. Not too late to post the annual review of my blog.
  1. The most popular post of 2011 was not even a contest, with 4 times more page views than second place. I am quite satisfied with this, because the content of the post was also one of the defining moments of the year for me. Tree of Life: Nature vs. Grace was a reflection after watching the trailer 6 months before the movie was released.
  2. The Church is a Whore but She's my Mother has consistently driven traffic over the years. In fact, it easily took the crown for the most page views of the last decade.
  3. Third most popular post was from a series I began in 2010; an analysis of Mumford and Sons album Sigh No More. It quickly rose the ranks in page views for 2010 , and has continued to consistently drive traffic a year later. The most popular song analysis in the series is I Gave You All ("I gave you all meaning" is the single most common search phrase driving traffic to my blog)
  4. It was closely followed by another Mumford and Sons analysis, The Cave (Any landing I have in the series has a below average bounce rate. Translation: They drive a lot of traffic to each other.)
  5. My reflection after seeing Tree of Life.
  6. Still glad I found this tool two years ago, and still glad to help others find it! 
  7. Amygdala and Aha Moments was one of the more stimulating blog posts for me to write in 2011 because it involved a lot of introspection about the way that I learn. 
  8. 10 Principles of Good Design by Dieter Ram. Ponder these points and it will add a whole new layer of meaning, appreciation, and maybe dissatisfaction with objects in the world around you. 
  9. and 10. Two more Mumford and Sons posts round out the top 10; Sigh No More and Timshel. As a whole, the series easily takes second, but still doesn't come close to hits for Tree of Life, which goes to show just how much traffic was driven by that one post.
While it is rewarding to see some of my most meaningful blog posts driving so much traffic, I definitely don't write this blog for satisfaction in stats (or I would have stopped years ago).

I have a few personal favorites that only ever see a trickle of traffic, but were extremely rewarding to write (which really gets at why I do write this blog):

Friday, January 06, 2012

Irenaeus on The Tree of Life

It was January 2011 when the trailer for Tree of Life crashed in to my life. I couldn't stop pondering the meaning of the line "Nature vs Grace".

I anxiously waited 6 long months until June, when we were finally able to see the movie. I began the long and rewarding journey of processing the films meaning.

The film continued to resound within me as I processed deeper. I began to understand it's meaning with greater clarity.

It is now 2012 and this film has not ceased changing me.

Last week I was at a gathering with Roger Newell. When he read the following Irenaeus quote the total weight of The Tree of Life hit me:
"Wherefore also He drove him out of Paradise, and removed him far from the tree of life, not because he envied him the tree of life, as some venture to assert, but because He pitied him, [and did not desire] that he should continue a sinner forever, nor that the sin which surrounded him should be immortal, and evil interminable and irremediable. But he set a bound to his state of sin, by interposing death, and thus causing sin to cease, putting an end to it by the dissolution of the flesh, which should take place in the earth so that man, ceasing at length to live to sin, and dying to it, might begin to live to God. " - Irenaeus (Against Heresies; Book 3, Chapter 23, Paragraph 6
There you have it. The meaning of the film The Tree of Life in just two, though quite heavy, sentences.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Writing on the Window - Citizen Kane and The Social Network

The Social Network and Citizen Kane both follow the whirl-wind ascent of two driven individuals.

Both Kane and Zuckerberg see the potential of their respective media (print and digital), innovate existing technology, creating new ways for people to connect, and manage to make a fortune along the way.

As much as the films are about creating and making, the stories are also about breaking and losing. Both films explore the hero's brokenness and frailty. Both start their ascent with a close network of friends, but their rapid power and pride wrecks havoc on their relationships.

For me, the following shots were the catalyst to connect the two films. At the foundation of their ascent...

Citizen Kane - Writing the "Declaration of Principles" on the window:
The Social Network - Writing the "Elo Rating System" algorithm on the window:
There is significant symbolism of the window scene at that particular moment in both films. What is written on the window acts as the catalyst for the protagonist and the viewer. Simply put, it's the window into the protagonist's future success.

But the Social Network puts an interesting spin on the scene. Having Eduardo write the equation foreshadows the main tension of the story. That is, Zuckerbergs repeated use of Eduardo (his network and money) as the means to achieve his own future success.