Tuesday, June 30, 2009

YAAAY! SHOOT hits 250 000

This website has come a long way since it's inception as an Ironman training diary in the icy satellite of Ilsan, one october day in 2004. It started off with about 10 hits a day, most of which were my own, but steadily gained a small but core following. The thrill of putting something online that could theoretically be seen by millions was an inspiration, although Of course, a few months later, in March 2005, having completed the Ironman in South Africa, the blog - then called 3rd Time Lucky (and I was) - went through its first makeover.

It became the existential, the philosophical: The Road to a Home. The title was based on the knowledge that driving and properties were about to undergo fundamental change. This was based on my understanding - yes, 4 years ago, in 2005 - of Peak Oil. The blog dedicated itself to energy issues then, and many articles and images depicted various road scenes and run down homes. Of course, 4 years later, the subprime crunch came, taking many people by surprise.

Once in South Africa, I moved to Johannesburg to work for a Media Company, and decided to brand the blog more decisively. This I did, as NVDL. Initially I took each initial and dedicated N to Nature, V for Virtue, D for discipline (alternating at times for discernment) and L for Logic, or Intelligence. I represented this branding with an image of Ryk Neethling's sister Jean Marie's arm lit by rainbows as it was submerged in a swimming pool. Even then I had the idea of the pristine purity of truth, of light pervading our illusions.

It was in 2009 that I made the current change to SHOOT. I wanted a short, sharp, decisive iconography, but also flexible enough to carry themes ranging from energy, to Lance Armstrong, to economics, to our crazy celebrity culture. I liked the interchangeability of the word SHOOT. It is conventionally taken to mean a photographic shoot, and the pretense and glamour involved. We also use the term, colloquially, when we ask someone to explain a point of view, or an idea. And then there are the other associations - something young and growing (like ideas about sustainability, climate change, pandemic disease, peak oil), and then there is the violence associated with economic hardship. In general though, SHOOT refers to the gathering of images or film to render some kind of truth.

Currently SHOOT has amassed over 11 000 unique users, and attracts, on average, over 500 hits each day. That's not bad for a site run by an individual. SHOOT has gone over 3000 page impressions on single days, and has grown 400% over the past year, accumulating the bulk of the last 150 000 hits over the past 18 months alone.

The site has recently added a number of additional features, including various columns, a monthly cover (to represent the brand as an online magazine) and a twitter feed.

I would like to say that the most popular stories on SHOOT are some of my columns [such as The View from my Bicycle - published each Monday] but smut still reigns supreme. This site is not a peddler of smut, however it does occasionally provide information that is not easily found online, and it is usually information in demand.
The most popular story by far is: 13 year old gets 15 year old pregnant. The site has provided more useful information, particularly during the 2008 Hurricane season, with an advisory on Hurricane Ike making the top 10 most popular reads over the course of a year. Two weeks ago I published a story on Barry Tannenbaum. Many in the mainstream media were reluctant to mention his name and ponzi scheme in the same sentence, and like all crooks, Tannenbaum denied any link to the loss of billions of Rands, the biggest swindle in this countries history so far (would anyone really expect the biggest con artist to raise his hand and say, "Okay, you got me, I did it.")

It occurred to me after this story that the biggest swindler in the USA was Jewish (Madoff) and the biggest in the UK (Robert Maxwell) was also Jewish. People were quick to write off the links between these fine, upstanding gentlemen as anti-semitic. The simple truth is that all three were Jewish, all three involved massive swindles, incredible greed and excess was involved, and fractions of the loot was recovered. If we are going to defend these people, and argue they are not greedy, then please explain where the money has disappeared?

In May I published perhaps the most disturbing images on SHOOT that I ever have or ever will publish. Again, it is easy to dismiss the post on Nikki Catsouras as blood-and-guts porn. As a cyclist who has seen corpses in situ in car wrecks, and who has had my own knee sliced open in a car wreck, I believe our romance with the motor vehicle needs an urgent wake up call. These pictures show a side to fast cars and fast living that more people ought to see.

Ashley Callie, also a very popular story on SHOOT, is a reminder that car wrecks claim lives on any given Sunday.

Over 1.2 million people die each year in the world. It's an ongoing holocaust, and no one thinks that getting into your car each day is probably the most life threatening thing you can do, and the most environmentally damaging of devices out there. Cars also have put entire countries in service to our addiction to the oil that runs them. And war is simple part of assuring that we can get a fix whenever we need one.

Then there was the Joost sex video. I believed Joost was innocent, that he was framed. This was based on news reports and blurry images. Once I saw the video myself, there was little doubt that it was him. Joost was South Africa's Michael Jackson in some ways - a man pretending to be a lot of things that weren't really true.

I was correct though, about Swine Flu. It is interesting to note that in South Africa, on the eve of the Confederations Cup, there wasn't a single confirmed case. Two weeks later, the day after the final, there were suddenly seven cases. I have predicted on this blog several times that the 2010 World Cup won't happen, certainly not as we'd like to envisage it. The world is rapidly contracting, with many processes changing fundamentally, and systemic contractions underway. It is crazy to imagine that a year from now we can just host thousands of tourists, welcoming them to our airports, when a pandemic, by then, will be well underway. In South Africa we have a crisis in our health care system - with doctors who are striking, with a TB and AIDS epidemic, and a cholera epidemic next door. South Africa is a tinderbox for an epidemic to spread through like wildfire. Expect to hear those words DON'T PANIC many more times in the coming months. A high level of concern is entirely justified.

As for the future, as our troubles increase, I expect the smut (13 year olds making 15 years pregnant and the like) to make way for content that increasingly will call our survival into question. Does that sound grim? Does that sound like too much gloom and doom? Many have accused this blog of being negative, yet those same people were caught completely by surprise by the markets. Reality isn't negative or positive. Truth isn't relative.

If you have a truth to share, or you shared a truth or two on SHOOT that means a lot to me, email me here and I'll pst your comments up here. Thanks for visiting, and it really does mean a lot when I get feedback saying how my efforts here have deepened or changed your understanding for the better, even if the knowledge of this points towards a worsening of our prospects. Jim Kunstler starts one of his books with this epithet: If a path to the better be; it begins with a full look at the worst." Thomas Hardy, 1887.

I aim, with SHOOT, to get us on the path to enlightenment, to better living, but most of us have a long to go before we will even begin contemplating that things are, perhaps, not so comfortable for us anymore, after all. I've hoped to communicate that reality before it breaks over us like a meteorite shower or a tsunami. SHOOT will continue to be here and there, covering the urgent issues facing us, visit here often for your daily dose of truth serum.

I expect to hit 500 000 by December 2010, if not sooner.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cant believe how quickly time goes by...to think I have been reading this blog for 4 yrs! Thanks for such informative, thought provoking and enjoyable articles. Look forward to many more years of the same.