Monday, November 7, 2011

Twenty-Eight Thousand and Counting

Forty Seconds of Zen from the Dead Horses, 2008

Just so you’ll know, I’m really missing an opportunity with the title of this blog post.
In May of 2008 my friend Tim Connor introduced me to Brooklyn, New York’s Dead Horse Bay. It’s a most interesting place, essentially a Gilded Age landfill that has evolved into something of a cult attraction. I wrote about it here
I had my then-new Flip video camera with me the day Tim and I visited Dead Horse Bay. I used it to film forty seconds of the waves washing against the shoreline. The video was nothing special, just a fixed view and sound of windblown ripples of Dead Horse Bay washing in on the shore and then back out. It wasn’t even particularly clean water, certainly nothing in which you’d be inclined to stick any part of your body.
A few days later I posted the video at my Flickr page. Right away, the viewer numbers started climbing. If a picture of mine connects with people, I might get as many as a hundred views on the first day. But that’s rare. In the case of Forty Seconds of Zen from the Dead Horses, the number of viewers shot into the triple digits within an hour.
This really didn’t make sense. I had a really hard time believing so many people cared about Dead Horse Bay or that there was anything outstanding about the video.
Eventually I figured out that the magic was in the title, Forty Seconds of Zen from the Dead Horses, and I don’t think it had anything to do with the passage of time or dead horses.
It was the “Zen” than did it. I’m convinced of it.
If I were smarter about search engine optimization I’d put “Zen” in the title of everything I do.  Why? Because it appears that a lot of people are looking for it.
It’s true; I suppose this little video has a meditative air about it. But at just forty seconds in length, it seems to me that just about the time you’d get into a good meditative state the video ends and you’re dumped back out into the noisy and chaotic world of the moment.
I don’t know what happens to people after they see this video. But whatever the case, they keep coming to it, as of yesterday 28,022 of then. By the time you read this there’ll be three or four dozen more.
I probably ought to put this on YouTube, but that seems kind of pretentious (as if that ever stopped anyone from posting to YouTube). And if I’d put the word “Zen” in the title of this post a lot more people will see it than will with the title I’ve used.
I’ll have to meditate on this for a while. 

[If you must have your Zen on a bigger screen, try this.]

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