It's not often a weblog has you on the edge of your seat
May 20, 2002 9:50 AM   Subscribe

It's not often a weblog has you on the edge of your seat, but Dave Mill's email-posted accounts of his solo attempt to reach the true North Pole are gripping. Stalked by a Polar bear, 6 days to build a runway for his rescue plane before the full moon rips the floes to shreds - this one has it all. I guess he is a live ass.
posted by RichLyon (9 comments total)
It didn't seem appropriate (ghoulish, really) to post this while it was unclear whether he would survive.
posted by RichLyon at 9:54 AM on May 20, 2002

heh. polar bear.
posted by quonsar at 10:00 AM on May 20, 2002

I guess everything remotely interesting is classified as a blog now. Why? Because it implies an inherent coolness in those who run them. A sort of "yay - look at me, I'm a follower doing something trendy" flag for all bloggers to wave proudly, as they point to news articles about the virtues of blogs.

#@$@% I hate labels.
posted by Dark Messiah at 3:42 PM on May 20, 2002

DM, looking to be the ass of the day? You're nominated.

In the sense that this is time-ordered posting it's a blog but only in the general sense. In the sense that the voice of the adventurer comes through -- and in more than six to twelve words a day -- it's falling more into the journal range. It's not linking out. These sorts of dispatches are widely available on mountaineering sites for other attempts, e.g. several teams on Everest and other Himalayan peaks each year get periodic updates posted to sometimes more than one site, and other adventures such as the Bancroft-Arnesen South Polar expedition by two women or the Amelia Earhart reflight use frequent web updates to keep supporters informed even when the news media store up interviews and footage for broadcast at the conclusion of their journey -- photogenic failure or triumphal success, it doesn't matter. But during is another matter. These journals, however, are generally updated with the assistance of third parties, and often start out very optimistically -- in practice they tend to be updated sporadically and often are hours out of date when there's actual news such as one of Steve Fossett's many balloon shortfalls.

Of course the idea that an adventurer ostensibly risking his or her life should take the time to blog personal thoughts has two sides. First, the historical adventurers often kept journals; sometimes those journals are the only record we have of their fate, such as the ill-betiden Scott Expedition. There is often surprising downtime on these adventures and writing is one way to ease the mix of boredom and frustration. Second, the most interesting parts of the story, almost by ironic certainty, cannot be told this way -- the adventurer is too busy saving, or losing, his life to write those parts.

In many ways the immediate communication modern technology makes possible feels like an intrusion; probably the most poignant, and horrible, story of the deadly Everest climb was the expert mountaineer caught at the snowbound peak who was able to speak with his pregnant wife and name their baby -- radio to sat-phone to a house in Seattle. He may not have been entirely lucid. That reminded me uncomfortably of a scene from Dark Star, one character in a spacesuit drifting away from the ship, still in radio contact. You wouldn't want to turn your radio off; you probably couldn't. Coast Guard radiomen probably experience this all too often; it isn't entirely new, thanks to Marconi. But it still feels wrong, an option both sides might rather not have.

And in the end there's the NASCAR problem. Sure, you may say you're in it to be with the hero adventurer when he finishes the trek, but maybe deep down you're really there for the crash.
posted by dhartung at 4:10 PM on May 20, 2002

DM, looking to be the ass of the day? You're nominated.

What, you want to be my side-kick or something? Get bent.

I wasn't down-playing the guy's experience. I was merely commenting on how everything seems to be a 'blog', even a myriad assortment of posted e-mail messages. And, funny, how everything 'cool' is a blog, but I've yet to hear of any horrible blogs on MeFi.

Essentially, I think you're all patting yourselves on the back; "look at me - I'm doing something other people say is a good thing".

According to MeFi, it seems that every site is a blog. Can someone please show me the definitive guide to what makes a blog, well, a blog. Until I see such material, blogs are just glorified personal sites with a cutesy nickname attached to them.

Oh, and personal sites came before blogs. (Just in case you didn't know that.) A different name does not a new invention make. Calling my bicycle a "two wheeled personal transport vehicle" doesn't change the fact it was a bicycle first -- regardless of how many people argue the contrary.
posted by Dark Messiah at 4:42 PM on May 20, 2002

What distinguishes a personal site from a blog? I said it up above, dude: time-ordered posting. What distinguishes a journal from a weblog? link-based posting. The blog, being time-ordered but not exclusively link-based, occupies a broad middle ground. This is not really that difficult to figure out, and all you had to do was ask.

As for MeFi only posting "good blogs", well, have you read the guidelines lately? Or do you think we should supplement the Israel-Palestine flamewars, the Star Wars/Spiderman discussions, and the Friday flash game extravaganzas with nine postings a day of bad blogs, just to prove they're out there? Like we don't already know? Get bent yourself. Maybe this whole MeFi concept isn't quite getting through to you.
posted by dhartung at 5:23 AM on May 21, 2002

"Dave Mill, the supposedly unaided adventurer rescued from an ice floe, should take a lesson in humility"

Dave Mill a hero? What about the unnamed pilot who risked his live-ass to save this 'unaided' explorer. Alternative viewpoint in today's Guardian.
posted by niceness at 6:14 AM on May 21, 2002

dhartung: oooh, time-ordered posting, there's a fucking innovation if I've ever seen one.

BTW - E/N came before blogs. And it was the same thing. New labels for old crap.

Believe what you want. I'm not trying to convert anyone. I could care less about any of you.
posted by Dark Messiah at 10:13 AM on May 21, 2002

Well, you certainly started out name-calling to get your position statement in. A very E/N thing to do.

I could care less about any of you.

Perfect E/N. Can I hire you for my next party? Brooding and hateful, you sit near the DJ. No tips.
posted by dhartung at 2:52 PM on May 21, 2002

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