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July 17, 2005
Hall of FamersBy Greyhawk
That which endures:
Amazon.com celebrates it's 10th anniversary this month. To mark the event they've compiled a "Hall of Fame" for a few product categories, presenting the top 25 sellers in music, books, and DVDs for the past decade. Among the usual suspects in each category, some surprises.
The Beatles are #1 in the top music category. No real shocker, and likely boosted strongly by recent release of a "new" greatest hits compilation. A true surprise in the top 25 is Van Morrison. He's one of my favorites, a fine artist, but more popular then I thought.
The Woodstock generation is well represented over all. Baby boomers replacing vinyl with CDs? A new generation discovering "roots music"?
But perhaps the most unexpected musician in the group is Frank Sinatra. When I was growing up he was the definition of square. But now, of course, I recognize hip when I hear it. Note: outdated phrases used intentionally - but I do enjoy Sinatra's music. For the record, I also like Cold Play, Puddle of Mudd, and any other number of modern artists too numerous to mention here.
Slightly off topic: John Prine is the current #5 CD at Amazon. That's cool. Your opinion may vary.
Turning to top authors, among the usual suspects (diet books, Dr. Phil, The Da Vinci Code) there's a surprising and welcome stand out. C.S. Lewis. Although perhaps carried by the Narnia series (which might be coat-tailing both Harry Potter and Lewis' contemporary and friend Tolkein, and boosted by the upcoming film) I'd like to think some of his weightier stuff is also still circulating. His WWII-era writing certainly resonates today.
Perhaps that's what the Amazon all-time top 25 really demonstrates. For all those who think we're in unique and exciting new times there's actually a strong link to the recent past, where issues we think of as today's are revealed as timeless.
Speaking of which, among the generally unsurprising list of top 25 DVDs (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, etc) Band of Brothers really shines. It certainly deserves it's place, but I'd have thought the price (which, by the way, is lower than ever) would have kept it on the shelves of only a few collectors. It's worth the cost.
Posted by Greyhawk / July 17, 2005 2:29 PM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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