Random Archives Week

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It has transpired, through no fault of my own, that a day I have long dreaded has finally arrived. I have always been aware of the possibility of such a day, one that comes unbidden in the manner of an uninvited guest; a guest that must be accommodated, despite one’s personal feelings on the matter. Not only have I long had an awareness of how possible this day was, I even had to concede it as a probability. The kind of probability that is, in fact, inevitable; which is why I prepared a name for it in advance: The Day of Non-Permissible Weather.

Strictly speaking, the name I have chosen for the day is slightly misleading. For the ‘weather’ has permitted me this one thing: it has permitted me to be ‘under it’. More colloquially, I am sick, and as a result, am forced to take a ‘sick-day’.

Having a sick-day, as you have quite rightly observed, is not really a big deal. It happens, and is not normally fatal (except for the times that it is, as happened to many in Taryn Glastonleaf’s hometown some years ago). But, regardless of its relative ‘big-dealiness’, it has presented me with a bit of a difficulty. The difficulty is this: I had no real contingency in place for the arrival of this probabilistically-inevitable day; a day when I would be too sick to write anything ‘Wingsmithian’ in nature. (It occurs to me that I will face a similar problem in the probabilistically-less-inevitable event of getting to go on vacation.)

Don’t be fooled by the words you see on the screen before you, what is happening here is only a ‘sort of’ writing. It is only writing in the same way that composing a text message or an e-mail is writing; not in the way that ‘blogging’ or ‘commenting’ is fully realized, and therefore real, writing. What you see before you is the ‘sort of’ writing that can be done when you don’t have to pay that much attention, or when it is all that misfiring synapses will permit.

Again, and very astutely, you have noted that this doesn’t seem to be a very great difficulty, not really. Of course, you are correct, and I do regret that I sound a little bit like a princess. I could, as you say, abstain from this week’s composition and its subsequent publication. Who would even notice, and even if they did, would it matter? Rather tritely, I would notice, and it matters to me personally, for a brace of reasons.

For those of you who read my ramblings on a regular basis (there is a percentage of repeat customers; Google analytics says there is, and Google wouldn’t lie), it should come as no surprise that writing weekly posts has an existential dimension for me. Over the course of the last few months, the composition and publication of weekly posts has become a core identity marker. It seems like a small thing – it’s not like it pays, after all – but, and this is the point, it has come to color every aspect of my life. It is something like a key organizing principle. More than that, I am beginning to feel that the writing of each Arthur Wingsmith may be the only way that I can be said to exist at all. This is unsettling, because if I am only weekly posts – that is, if I can’t be said to exist ‘outside the text’ of each entry – then there is real possibility that I would cease to exist if I fail to meet just one of my arbitrarily set publication deadlines.

If it is true that I don’t exist outside of my weekly narratives (and I am not saying that it is true), then failing to produce just one is tantamount to seeking the conditions of my own non-existence; however unintentional this failure may be. As I look around the internet, I’m not so sure that I’m alone in this form of ontological anxiety, either. On the face of it, it looks like concerns over ceasing to exist are are wide spread. Indeed, read through this lens, the paranoia seems to have become pandemic. If true, it certainly explains a lot of internet behavior, ranging from obsessive status updating, to compulsive commenting. (As to this latter, this might be one of the reasons why people get quite annoyed when no opportunity is afforded for them to make comments.) It also casts a different light on the ‘everyday’ blogger; that is, a blogger who has to post everyday. (I apologize if this is not the case, it’s only that I can’t conceive of having anything worthwhile to say everyday. I’m not even sure I have anything worthwhile to say once a week. Actually, now that I think about it, I’m sure that I don’t. That being the case, carry on.)

All existential concerns aside, there is also a practical reason why I’m having difficulty with the idea of foregoing a weekly post. As I didn’t really know much about blogging –  or blog culture – when I started, I’ve had to do a faeces load of research on it. Lots of this research turned up very helpful information, but in almost every instance, it also highlighted a disappointing aspect to my own meagre efforts: I’m doing everything wrong. Well, not quite everything, there is one aspect of my approach that is correct (even @stixit2u78 conceded I was doing this right; in private, for a moderate fee). Namely: I defined, and committed to, a publication cycle.

So, you see the dilemma? I can either figure out a way around The Day of Non-Permissible Weather and it’s complications, and post something. Or I can give in, not post, and be completely wrong about everything. I don’t know about you, but I’m never really that sanguine about being wrong on purpose.

Fortunately, the researches on blogging I have already mentioned have provided me with a reasonable way out; I can keep existing, and avoid being completely wrong, without having to write something new. According to a relevant expert on this subject, continually creating new content is a ‘necessary’ but not ‘sufficient’ condition for producing a successful blog. (Not that I have pretensions to being successful, that’s just how the expert framed it.) Any blogger, must also repromote previous, or  existing, content – give it new life, as it were. This is a perfect solution for me, as I just so happen to have pre-existing content, much of it originally published before it was transferred to my donkey.

As it turns out, there is an unforeseen advantage to taking the repromotion route. It allows me to reconfigure The Day of Non-Permissible Weather into I Meant To Do This The Whole Time. To effect this transformation requires the deployment of several key elements: an organizing metaphor, a catchy tagline, some basic parameters, a distribution platform, some hashtags, and a way to encourage audience engagement.

My organizing metaphor is gleaned from this week’s ‘non-post’s’ featured image. Instead of being desperately ill with some respiratory ailment, I am now a red-headed boy working in a Nineteenth-Century print room taking a ‘tea-break’. The men, working at the printing press behind him, represent my blog and it’s content being distributed on the appropriate digital platform. (Just to be clear, this is a metaphor; I have never been a read-headed boy working anywhere, and the internet is not really a printing press).

The ‘catchy tagline’ and ‘basic parameters’ should ideally refer to each other in some way. My tagline is Random Archives Week, with the basic parameters being that – instead of doing the normal ‘weekly promotion cycle’ for the #New @ArhturWingsminth – everyday I shall promote different posts (at semi-random) from my blog’s archives.

Although I have more than one social media profile, I am – as you probably guessed – going to use my twitter account. Twitter, as far as I can tell, is the best forum for this sort of endeavor, partly because the use of hashtags is more thoroughly understood there. There is also another reason why I want to use that platform, and this is because sometime in 2009 an account called @Tweetvent was created (although, there doesn’t seem to have been any ‘venting’ at all). “Tweetvent”, therefore, becomes one of my hashtags. To #Tweetvent, I am also adding #RandomArchivesWeek and – because it is both a legitimate abbreviation of ‘Random Archives Week’, and a pre-existing hashtag in its own right – #RAW.

Encouraging audience engagement, is a much trickier proposition. What normally seems to happen for this kind of thing, is the giving away of prizes. Alas, I have no prizes to give, on account of my recalcitrant poverty, and that I pretty much give everything away for free already (which is probably why I’m so poor). Instead, I invite any audience member to play a hashtag game: the game of attaching any or all of the hashtags I have mentioned to anything they tweet, however unrelated, just to see what happens. Here is a mock example: ‘baby changes own diapers’ [shortlink] #RAW #Tweetvent.

And so, with all of that said, I present to you the first ‘Random Archive’ of the week: ETHNOPHOLES’ LIBRARY: VOLUME ONE.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.

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