Today is the fourth anniversary of Barataria. It started on a rainy Spring day when the world felt closed in and tight but on the verge of coming back to life. That feeling has stayed with Barataria through 16 seasons now as it has grown and developed its own community.
Welcome to the anniversary party!
A new post has arrived every MWF without fail, reaching 674 total. A solid 4,369 comments and trackbacks have been left by the roughly 9k visits per month, about double last year. What started as a strange hobby has become a minor source of income and showcase for my own skills as a professional writer and social media analyst. It’s a place where complicated and difficult subjects are explained as well as I can in 800 to 1,000 words – and then built on by a dedicated community that, respectfully, takes no BS and asks tough questions. Barataria readers are the best!
Anniversary posts for Barataria usually take the form of “What is the blog all about?” I think I answered that very well last year and we’ve moved on since then. The simple truth is that I write about whatever is on my mind lately. Some things simply have to be emptied from my li’l brain before I can get on with the routine of making some kind of living.
The last year has been building on a “strong half-step back”, just far enough removed from the life to gain some perspective without stepping back so far that we can’t all enjoy the moment. I’ve been aware of three very important trends in Barataria that I think take what we’ve been taking to some interesting new levels:
Connections: Barataria has always been not about things or people or ideas, but how they connect to each other and the world around them. These connections show how stresses from everyday life and the great tides of history moving around us are transferred and shift in ways that might seem strange and unpredictable. Lately this has been taken to include a lot of failure analysis, which is to say what happens when something breaks and the rest of the great network of life has to pick up the slack.
Turning Points: We’re not at an endtime, but we do appear to be at a turning point in history. Life doesn’t end here, but it looks like it will go on in a way that our grandparents would have trouble recognizing. People tend to get a bit freaky in these times, so lately I’ve been fascinated by how other historical turning points were handled. I always say that people are people – but cultures are culture. We share the same motivations and stresses that many people who came before us did, but we act them out in different ways because we live in different times. Why did people make the choices they did? Their triumphs and tragedies make excellent object lessons.
Predicting and Understanding News: Professional news media has camera crews and reporters on scene providing raw and immediate coverage that no blogger can ever match. Barataria focuses on how to make sense of this without getting caught in the hype of the moments. “I don’t break news, I fix it” has become my slogan for this reason. Before economic stats come out, I try to explain what they will mean. Underlying concepts that are often lost in jargon are described and discussed with your help. This is where the other main trends – Connections Analysis and Turning Points – show that they have real value to the world. Risk management, which is to say predicting the likely bounds of our world, is essential not only for a Free Market™ but also for a participatory Democratic Republic and a free society.
In the last year I’ve also tried a number of experiments in social media, reflecting the additional business I’ve taken on as a consultant in this field. The growth of Barataria is the result of many trials where conventional wisdom has been put to the test and sometimes failed, suggesting alternative methods. The approach is similar to more difficult topics. I even tried an in-blog Pledge Drive (which is always still open! hint!) that was a partial success, demonstrating that donations can be as viable as ad revenue for income.
But it’s not a party unless you join in. What do you like about Barataria? What do you hate? What would you like to see more of? Would you like a beer or a cocktail? What would you like the DJ to play next? These are all good questions, so feel free to hang around and chat for a bit. Thank you all for just being here!