Sunday, November 30, 2008

Top Hits: Sarah Palin's Glasses & Oregon's Civil War

Anyone who has blogged has felt the pull between writing you want to write and writing what others will be drawn to.

I abide by the first, but on a few happy occasions I manage to satisfy the second too.

After two years and 851 posts, two topics have attracted far and away the most visits to this site.

The ostensible topics (as defined by my search engine tags) were Sarah Palin’s glasses and The Civil War (the Oregon football rivalry). But the tags deceive because the topics were points of departure to far different content.

Perhaps the lesson is to choose timely, popular topics (and tags) to hang larger, provocative substance to. A kind of blogger’s bait and switch.

In the case of Palin’s glasses, I wanted to pick an argument with Marshall McLuhan and make a point about “cool,” visual appeal. Despite all she wasn't, Palin as visually cool.

In the case of the “Civil War” rivalry, I wanted the reader to consider the unintended power of a sports metaphor.

I got more than 800 visits to the Palin specs post, but I think that most of the visitors were interested in where to purchase glasses like the governor’s. I hope their disappointment was more than offset by a new awareness of McLuhan.

The Civil War post, which is an annual ritual (some would say “rant”) for me in the week before the big University of Oregon/Oregon State game, drew 200 plus visits, which isn’t nearly as impressive as the Palin response. What made the “Civil War” post notable was the unanimously negative response. I clearly struck a nerve.

How dare I question the tradition of calling the game “The Civil War”? For some, my complaint was literally unheard of.

For them, it’s unheard of no longer. Disagree as they might, my view now is part of their consciousness. That’s reason enough to share and disseminate it. I’m pleased they were moved to defend their own.

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