Wednesday, January 7, 2009

In Praise of Microblogging, or, a Trip, a Pizza, and a Revelation

My family took a short trip to New York City over the holidays, where I was determined to try some of that town's famous coal-oven pizza. (Yes, pizza cooked in really hot ovens fueled by coal.)

Fortunately for me, someone had created a google map of every coal-oven pizza parlor in New York City.

That's when I realized: The secret power of the internet lies in its ability to tap into the narrow (but deep) knowledge of the true fanatic.

Which brings us back here. I've been surprised (and tickled) that hundreds of people have found this blog by putting the name of an apple variety into Google and pressed the Search button. Tickled because it's fun to have readers, and surprised because--well, lets see.

I'm an amateur (which is partly the point) and there are plenty of more-comprehensive apple catalogs online. I've only been at this since July.

In terms of Google, people usually won't look past the first page of ten hits in a search. Yet my Apples have rated a top-ten slot for some varieties.

(I know this because, if you browsed here from a Google search, my web logs record what the search terms were.)

My reviews, opinionated and amateur, are all based on apples I have actually tried. I may not know a lot, but I (mostly) stick to what I know. Score one for narrow fanaticism.

Also, it seems that many web sites by growers have apple descriptions that are cribbed from other sources (often without attribution). Many can be traced word-for-word to old books such as Apples of New York (1905). I suspect this also explains the persistence of such undefined terms as "aromatic" to describe how an apple tastes.

And many of the more-comprehensive sites have been abandoned only partly realized. So maybe I deserve a little attention.

Google's page-rank algorithm is inscrutable, and my standing has shifted recently--searches that once featured this blog as fourth or fifth now place it at twelfth (or fiftieth). O fame, thou fleeting bauble! Such is the lot of a microblogger.

The pizza was great.

2 comments:

  1. Hey Adam,
    "The secret power of the internet lies in its ability to tap into the narrow (but deep) knowledge of the true fanatic."

    A "Hit the nail on the head" statement. One of the things that I've always found so interesting about these 50 states is that if you turn off the TV and look at what people are really interested in America becomes instantly a much richer and deeply fascinating land. One that you are never going to see on the six o'clock news. The internet enables people to easily aggregate by communities of interest rather than geography.
    Now I'm more of a browser than a fanatic but the internet allows easy access to say... Oh... the location of every coal oven pizzera in NYC. Or several detailed pictorial blogs on how to make stitch and glue kayaks from plywood (something I might actually do).
    Or to the LRY yahoo group, which leads Adams Apples, which in turn leads to Fruitslinger. Which was the best blog read of 2008 for me.
    All the best to you in 2009.
    Roger Smart

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  2. When I found Fruitslinger (which chronicles a photojournalist's season selling fruit at farmers markets) last year I felt I had stumbled across a natural companion to this blog. The author has moved on to other things but his stories and photographs remain.

    Happy new year to you too, Roger!

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