Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Fake Plastic Souks Is Ten

Birthday Cake
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Oh golly, oh gosh! I nearly missed it. Happy Birthday, Fake Plastic Souks! Ten years ago this month, I was sufficiently intrigued by the idea of expressing my opinion without using a pseudonym (at the time the standard approach for bloggers in Dubai) and was also missing writing magazine articles (I used to do a lot of that) enough to contemplate starting a blog. It's hard to imagine today, but back then it was all, well, terribly experimental. Now, of course, it's quaintly retro.

It all followed on from another experiment in online scribbling, a Wiki called 'Orientations' I had started to put together, which played with the idea of creating a hyperlinked series of articles that led you on an adventure, a little like playing Colossal Caves, around what was something of a stream of consciousness. PB Works, the nice people wot hosts the Wiki, have been threatening to take back that workspace for years and yet the crumbling ruins of that largely incomplete experiment still exist. The first word of the first post on Fake Plastic Souks linked, through the fiendishly clever use of houmus, back to the Wiki in a sort of nod to the past.

That first post was inspired by the sententious rumblings from the Arab Media Forum and amused me greatly. Like many things that amuse me greatly (my first novel, for instance), I find I am in an audience of one. Luckily, that has never detracted from my amusement. The ability to amuse oneself avoids a great deal of unpleasantness in life, I find.

An awful lot of water has flowed under the bridge since those early days, quite a lot of the events which took place around me documented as I jotted things down. It's not quite Samuel Pepys, but I occasionally enjoy stumbling across something old and dusty. In all this time, a tad over 1.2 million pages have been read. Which is nice. I would hate to think how many words I've thrown into this little cloudy corner. I've probably written about 700,000 words in my various novels (not including the two books I made from FPS posts for publishing workshop purposes) and likely more in the blog.

Oh yes, the books. There were two of them, made when I needed a text to create a sample book for a 'hands on' publishing session I did for the LitFest chaps. The first one documented 2007-2009: Fake Plastic Souks - The Glory Years. I joked that I'd do another one if that book sold more than ten copies and to my mild amazement, it did. So I made the second, Fake Plastic Souks - The Fear Returns, which covered 2009-2011. The links take you to the Kindle editions, but there are also paperbacks. I never did get around to a third one. Just as well, probably.

It all seems a little irrelevant these days. Mind you, an early and perhaps over-passionate proponent of 'social media', I now find myself yearning to sit under a tree and play with wooden toys rather than post, share, tweet and snap for the benefit of small and frequently mildly bemused audiences.

I think my favourite things from over the years are were when I 'outed' Harper Collins' Authonomy and the 'Shiny' posts, which did rather tickle me. Documenting the egregious contents of Tim Horton's French Vanilla Coffee not only provided me with amusement, it has informed something like 10,000 people. The 'stuff they put in our food' posts have always caused the most 'Yews'. My abiding interest in food, of course, led to the co-creation of Dubai's first 'food blog' with partner in crime Simon McCrum, The Fat Expat. That was finally shuttered due to lack of time and photographic talent back in 2013. TFE was never really Instagram gold, but I still use it to find recipes even today.

These days, as people may have noticed, I post rather more infrequently and have stopped looking at Sitemeter or analytics. In the early days, the blog would attract a sort of 'background radiation' of readers, about 30 or so per post. That grew to hundreds and even thousands, with anything up to 40,000 page views each month. I was just starting to think that was getting rather reasonable when I met Russian writer Boris Akunin, whose blog gets about 1,000 comments a day. When he invited readers to join him in a walk around Moscow to protest Putin, 10,000 people turned up.

I was duly humbled.

Anyway, there's no real point to this post. I just thought I'd mark the occasion...

1 comment:

Eat Drink Stay Dubai said...

Congratulations, and please keep up the great work. Ten years is truly several lifetimes as a blogger, and it's interesting how some themes develop and yet others take a wild turn. There's so much gold in these souk posts, always something for everyone and it's interesting to note how different articles 'catch' an audience.

Cheers for all the insights, and also the book publishing insider notes and info, all very good. Cheers - see you in ten!

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