Since having moved to Rotterdam I have a whole new area to recon, so about once a week I’ll pick an area to go wander around in. This week just some random spots in town & a first foray out to the more industrial areas.
The Rotterdam Fruit Exchange building is a local favorite. The building has monument status now, and with 10 phone booths built into it, it should. Interior photos of the place here. You can rent it out for events, seats 400.
A week later I looped out into the harbour & through the Benelux tunnel. Not pictured below due to insuffiecient levels of instagrammability (pretty heavy fog out that day); 2 cable-laying ships, the MAMMOET hq, container repair/storage yards, crude oil storage tanks. There’s stuff.
The ground is soft underfoot along the side of the road out here. Hasn’t settled back down yet from having the pipes buried underneath it that pump the oil across the network of refinery facilities. There’s no footpath here, but it’s not an area designed for humans to be strolling around.
I’ve pulled in roughly 4 years of content from Instagram (just over 1000 images & videos) using Instagrate Pro, which offers a solid range of features for integration of Instagram accounts into WordPress. Had this been a client job, I’d most likely have used a Custom Post Type and automatically imported each image or video individually, maintaining as much of the original meta-data as possible (location data, tags in their own custom taxonomy, etc) and integrating into the site from there.
This being a personal blog I’ve taken a slightly different approach, importing the images & videos manually in batches to be regular blog posts back-dated to their time. The images run per post in chronological order, old to new, instead of the reverse-chronology native to Instagram’s own browsing experience. In this manner the posts take on an episodic nature, scrolling through and consuming the images & captions in the order they were posted provides a much smoother narrative experience. The stories feel like they’re unfolding much more as they were lived.
You may have caught Kyle Chayka’s recent piece; ‘Why Instagram Captions Are the New Blogging‘, and I’ve been enjoying a number of people’s recent Instagram writing. Jay Owens in particular, who sold a 3000-word travel feature off the back of her Instagram writing while travelling in the USA. Personally I don’t have the mind to write several hundred words of caption while I’m on the go or comitting a day’s highlights to Instagram. The proper long form is a whole other game entirely, but I think there’s a viable intermediate form to be found which I’d like to explore. So for the future I’ll be setting up Instagrate to partially automate creating periodic roundup posts of my Instagram content, and writing extra commentary around that.
Capturing & captioning in the moment through Instagram, but adding an extra layer of background narrative later, with better tools for the job, to be re-published into an archive with an interface I control, that is more suited to episodic storytelling. Besides fitting in with the present cultural undercurrents of early 00’s (blogging) nostalgia & withdrawal from the noisy ad-ridden feeds of major platforms, I also get to keep a nice archive of all my Instagram content in case of outages. Or for the day their owner commits an act so egregious that I feel I need to delete my account altogether.
Things are gonna stay a bit vanilla & borky around these parts for some time while much needed upgrades are done. The old-ass plugins that broke due to my recently switching to PHP 7 have been thrown out, and the theme I hadn’t updated since early 2011 went as well.
In line with my official stance on advertising (‘fuck your ads’), and broader views on privacy & data-ownership I’ve also ditched Google Analytics, and switched to the Open Source Piwik instead. Do-Not-Track headers are respected here.
The next chore (currently in progress), is importing my entire history from Instagram and setting up to automate periodic roundup posts. As for the site theme, I think I might actually stick with the WordPress Twenty-Sixteen default & just load a barebones child theme over the top for minor customisations.
Yeah that’s right, blogging. The early 00’s nostalgia is real.
Took a few quick trips out to Weimar & Fontainebleau.
Fucked my back over a bit. It’s ok now.
Things that didn’t happen; personal projects you may have heard me talking about during that period have mostly been put on ice for the time being. One large-ish piece of writing that was commissioned got canned, doubtful I’ll resurrect that.
Still getting used to having a place where I don’t live with someone else’s stuff, or the knowledge that I have to leave within a couple of months. Buying furniture feels stupid & wrong but having a decent bed and a real desk is some pretty amazing shit. Bookshelves, OMG.
First day of the year I managed to severely aggravate an iliotibial band walking down a mountain track, making 2016 the year I start taking injury prevention exercises seriously. The ability to walk up & down any old hill I feel like is something I want to preserve, as I do intend for this year to have some expeditions in it.
Structure & Narrative still lives, though as ever nobody is really sure what I’m doing. This blog will probably get an overhaul soon and there might even be content again. But y’know, don’t hold your breath. Not all year.
My occasional signs of life are best monitored via: