Closing in on 1,000 … Asking for Your Help.

Silverback Digest is closing in on its 1000th post! It’s time to celebrate, but also to rethink our purpose, our goals, our format, our style, our existence.

We need your help. What are we doing right? Wrong? What could we do better?

The first post? It happened on September 23, 2020. There was a picture of some grizzled early members of the Silverback Film Society (circa 2016) along with a list of movies that achieved a 100% rating on rotten tomatoes.

Since then we have gone to post almost 1000 entries on your Digest, falling into several general categories:

  • Original pieces from the pens of other Silverbacks
  • Articles suggested or sourced by other Silverbacks
  • Original pieces from the roster of Great Ape SM.
  • Articles from simpatico sites and sources such a Recomendo, The Outside Story, Delancey Place, and The Browser.
  • Publication of an extended body of original music and accompanying narrative under the title of Old Rockers.
  • Assorted nonsense of which no one wants to claim ownership.
  • Various theme weeks featuring cute grandkids, Silverbelle Dolly Parton, assorted Bostonia, a celebration of Silverback Del Shannon, and a weeklong exploration of the best way to cook scrambled eggs.

As we approach the landmark 1000th posting, the question arises of where to steer Ship Silver in the future. Or, as we say in the universal language of The Jungle, “Oo-oo?”

Among the options:

  • Just slip beneath the waves.
  • Maintain the status quo.
  • Make the publication less frequent, but more substantial.
  • Monetize and grow it.

What do you think, fellow ‘Backs and ‘Belles? The future of The Jungle is in your hands. Grace me with a sentence or two that summarizes your wisdom. Where do we go from here?

23 thoughts on “Closing in on 1,000 … Asking for Your Help.

  1. All kidding aside now…mostly. I’m a relatively late arrival to the Jungle scene, Stephen, but I do want to share something. I have been going out of my way to share the newsletter/blog with decidedly non-Silverbacks–younger people whom I believe might benefit from the–dare I say it–WISDOM that is posted on the Silverback Digest. I specifically use that term to differentiate the site’s extended value from sites that host knowledge. We all know the story: “Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad.” The feedback I get from younger people is very positive, and tends to be in the “Wow–how did you know that?” category. So, just letting you know–don’t stop!

  2. I love reading SB, but find time escapes so quickly that I often miss daily entries, regardless of how much they spark my interest. I hate to suggest MWF entries, but that might be a consideration.

    1. You needn’t worry about the posts that you miss. They’ll always be there. Nor do I expect anyone to be interested in all the different posts. Feel free to cherry pick the ones that strike your fancy.

  3. Interesting post – a good way to celebrate by taking a moment to reflect. In no particular order or priority, some random thoughts. This week alone, I know of 3 blogs that have been shuttered by their owners. They gave up the ghost. And I am aware of at least 5 others in the past two days have asked the existential question – should they continue on and if so, why? I think there is something in the air this August because here you are joining the chorus in navel gazing their blog’s existence and future. So, my first question_ who is your audience and who do you want it to be? It’s one thing if your audience is friends and family reminiscing about past days, in a way like that Simon & Garfunkle sont “Old Friends – Time it was on what a time it was I have a photograph, preserve your memories…” in that case, your Ray Davies and Brill Building posts work…Or do you get the 20 somethings to join the septuagenarians already gathered? In that case, Ray Davies and the Brill Building series are not a good fit at all. In fact, music is a dicey choice and probably just better listened to in your home while you craft blog entries. Next, posting every day is strenuous work – I did it for one month years ago and it about did me in. I do enjoy reading the digest daily but could never keep up. I suggest you consider a themed approach for each day of the week and you could tag along with the WordPress Throwback Thursday or Flashback Friday and dedicate one day every week to republishing a gem from the past. That leaves 4 days per week in search of a theme. I’d pick a focus on the future of Journalism for one day each week. A focus on climate change/ecology for another day. A focus on current events for another day. And a focus on life in Vermont for another day. I enjoy the very eclectic nature of your posts. Another consideration – audience engagement for the Digest. So often I am the only person who reads a post and clicks the “Like” button. Surely others are reading and appreciating your offerings. Suggest you make a point of explicitly encouraging people to like/favorite the posts. You are not going to grow WordPress traffic if post after post after post shows zero audience engagement. Same for comments – encourage your email subscribers to comment in the WP platform rather than engage with them one-on-one via email. SB Digest will never be the new hotness with zero reader feedback showing up. The kids want to be where the action is and 0 likes show 0 action. Surely your friends and family and neighbors wouldn’t mind liking a post from time to time? Next – I would retire the Silverbelle label. Yes I know it is part of the shtick, but is a 20-something going to want to be labeled an old fogey woman? Seriously, there is ageism embedded in the silver appellation. And from a feminist perspective, aren’t we all equals – Silverbacks and Silverbelles? I burned my bra in 1970 and the feminist in me doesn’t like the gender categorization as it stands in the digest. You may recall that I objected to the “harem” word choice. That would be utterly alien to the 20-something women. Anyway, I have said too much. Apologies for any typos and lack of formatting – I am now totally blind in my.”good” eye. Keep up the good work Step and do not shutter the Digest but it does need to be modernized. Just my opinion.

    1. So much good stuff in this response. I need to take a few deep breaths before responding. You are really provoking me, and I am deeply appreciative. Just what I was asking for.

      1. Thanks Step. The easiest answer is just write and post what you feel like, when you feel like. And if it resonates with readers, that’s icing on the cake but you do not need to cater to your audience. That’s pretty much what I do (except that I do need to be mindful of the galleries that represent my art). Of course, every media/publishing company for which ai worked has grappled, and continues to grapple, with how to engage the upcoming generation and bring new blood into the fold. Star Trek did it with ST:TNG. Star Trek – The Next Generation. You could do a spin-off SB Digest: The Next Generation! Music is a real concern for me. Grendel had a couple of good songs – Pamela and Johnny comes to mind. I really disliked the Del Shannon series – and I’m a member of your generation! What would the 20-somethings think of Del – would they listen or just hope on out? Anyway, I really really enjoy the eclectic nature of your postings, good variety! Good luck with however you choose to proceed. Remember you can’t please everybody, you just gotta please yourself.

    2. Sorry to take so long in responding, Babs. You gave me so many things to think about. Very few blogs make it to 1000 posts. People run out of things to say and get tired of the lack of feedback. I’m reminded of the cartoon that shows two dogs conversing. One dog says “I used to have my own blog, but I’ve gone back to random, incessant barking.”

      I don’t think of this as a blog, but rather as a digest. I ingest nutrients from my environment, process them, then return them to the environment from whence they came, hopefully having added some value.

      My goal initially was a community of 250 like-minded souls. The last I checked we were comfortably over 300, so … check. I like and enjoy my fellow apes and appreciate that the Digest gives me an excuse to keep in touch. It also gives purpose to my personal need for a creative. My sole frustration is that I’ve had very little success in getting my fellow apes to interact with each, because you’re all so interesting in very different ways.

      In terms of your idea of theme days, I tried this early on, but needed a much larger inventory of material to keep it going. “Food for Thought” Wednesday would come around, and I’d need a story while I had three “Funny Fridays” ready to go. I have a feature called “Best of the ‘Gest” that features previously published posts, but I encountered some WordPress-related tech issues that I haven’t yet solved. It’s a good idea, however.

      You’re right about there being something “off” about the Silverbelle label. It’s just the best I was able to come up with. I’m looking for a term that communicates respect and equality, but equality with a difference. At the moment I am toying with “Grrrilla.” What do you think? As for “harem,” that could make for a fun, two-beer debate.

      I now this doesn’t cover all your points, but I didn’t want to delay any further.

      1. Thanks. A big nope to Grrrilla. And a big nope to harem – harem implies ownership over the females and competition among males to take over the females of another male’s group. I don’t think intelligent women of your readership would go for that. Look, I know this is all an attempt for you to play on with the theme of gorilla social structures, but we are not gorillas. Yes, a heretical statement. Why would homo sapiens want to emulate any of the lesser primates? With apologies to Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey, of course. Women in the US did not have the right to vote until 1919-1920. The Equal Rights Amendment still has not passed. Let’s not have the Digest continue to segregate by gender, please. Harems are not legal in the US although tolerated in some LDS circles where one man can have many wives. Grrrilla is infantilizing, reducing women to girls. I’ve said enough. I still appreciate your eclectic variety of posts. Keep up that part of the great work!!

      2. Hi Step. I give up and am stopping now.

        You wrote “I’m looking for a term that communicates respect and equality, but equality with a difference.”

        This to me sounds like a philosophy of “separate but equal.”

        Why does there need to be any difference? Is gender still destiny in the 21st century?

        I think you and I just have a fundamental disagreement about this.

  4. The/your contents variety is truly amazing and possibly the key.
    But, I wonder it a “Chronicle” or an approach of more “Local” New England life, mainly, might be a way to garner a larger audience? Your knowledge of New England and its varied life and seasonal challenges and rewards, would be joined with artisans who might share their “Hacks” of surviving in our area. Businesses who offer wares that make a “Yankees Life” easier, financially and healthier. Could be a way to a larger subscription base. You did it with Green Living Journal, why not Silverbacks?
    An annual donation drive to support Silverback survival, research and educational initiatives would be nice too.

    1. You’re right that I am a bedrock New Englander and that would be a natural focus. This is exactly why I am seeking your input, and I’m deeply grateful for your willingness to respond.

    2. Thank you SBs Steve and Beth. I’m definitely a New England kinda guy, so that is a natural focus for me. I would like to see the SB community grow, but not in the superficial ways that most Internet works. Who needs 10,000 meaningless likes? I’ve also been unsure that I’m adding enough value to ask people to pay for it, so you comment is encouraging. Thanks for being loyal Silverbacks!

  5. First, it is truly amazing that the Digest is nearing the 1000 mark- and essentially due to your dedication and creativity Step.
    What a tremenous amount of research/editing/curating!
    Perhaps daily is “too much of too many good things” for folks to keep up with (even you?)
    Some very good sugggestions from fellow monkeys on content, format and outreach – perhaps a trial of M-W-F…and we agree with an annual donation to support this great offering.
    Respectfuly and gratefully-
    Mike and Cyndy

    1. I truly appreciate the regular input from you and Cyndy. The pressure of a daily posting is probably less on me than on readers. I find all the posts interesting, but that’s because I am ME. I don’t expect others to share all my interests. I like what SB John said “I don’t read them all, but I do read the first paragraph.” That’s all I ask. Thank you.!

  6. Since you asked, I thought I would add my comments to the rest:
    What if the Digest was put out on a more flexible schedule and not by a set routine? When the post is ready it goes out and that’s it. You eliminate the stress and hassle of deadlines, vacation coverage and having to come up with and researching new ideas all the time. However, with that being said, I must say I have enjoyed the variety of subject matter and depth of your research as presented by the posts.
    As you know, the Digest takes much time and effort. Do not let the stress of all the details involved with “getting the daily post out” take away from the original purpose you envisioned for the Digest and your own joy of researching and writing. Take care of yourself, Little Bro, and do what you enjoy and the rest of it will fall in place.

  7. Oh, quit lecturing me! Just kidding, Jan. I appreciate the thoughtful comments, and I think eliminating the pressure of daily posts is definitely worth considering. I am glad to have my big sister with us here in The Jungle.

  8. SB John (Mendocino Bonobos) writes:

    Responding to your plea for feedback…

    I am continually in awe and admiration of your regularity in producing the digest. For me, it would be a daunting task and stressor having to crank this out daily, but I believe I speak for all the apes in the jungle in showing my appreciation and amazement at your stellar efforts to produce. This stuff is second nature to you and your compulsion to keep writing is revered by this ape in the jungle. I confess that I don’t read every post but always read the first paragraph. I make up for this rude readus interruptus by forwarding quite a few of the posts that strike me to several friends and family who also appreciate them. Regular forwardees include my sister Vicky, friends Eric and JHo, wife Nantzy, daughters Ashley and Sara and assorted other would-be chimps, bonobos, gorillas, and even a few macaques. As far at the next thousand posts, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – keep up the great work if you can withstand the daily pressures of production. I consider your digest akin to my other favorite regular email Recommendo and see you as another Kevin Kelly type. I learn stuff in these two that I get nowhere else and that frequently inspire my life. BTW, have you listened to KK’s book on ‘advice to the younger generation (not the real title)’? My favorites were: ‘it’s always better to be nice than right’ and ‘show courtesy and patience with waiters, bureaucrats, customer service agents, telemarketers, etc.’ and ‘when deciding which line to enter for checkout in a retail establishment, always choose the one with the least people regardless of the size of the baskets.’ Some random shit for ,you, no? My only worry is that chief bullgoose S’Back SM may not be in this jungle forever as his testicles get more pendulous and the younger chimps begin to notice he can’t swing through the trees as he used to. BTW, did you ever watch Chimp Empire? So, in conclusion, keep up the stellar writing and regularity, the freshness of the posts, the uniqueness, the irreverence, the cheeky humor, and keep us apes smiling and grooming each other as long as your creativity allows. Ooh, Ooh, Ooh!

  9. Being a fairly ordinary ape I tend to gravitate towards things I’ve always like such as the arts, the sciences and humor and tend to avoid the things I don’t like. I appreciate the eclectic nature of the posts and if something is not to my liking, tomorrow is another day.

    1. Ordinary apes are fine with us, but I’ve got to say that you are anything but ordinary. All I ask is about a five second scan to see if a post is of interest. If not … you said it perfectly … tomorrow is another day.

  10. I tend to be a “status quo” kind of guy. I keep my iPhone forever, or until they stop updating it. I keep my cars until… you get the idea. So I say “keep on keepin’ on.” But I admit I like the original pieces by the one and only Great Ape, SB SM best.

    1. “Status quo” is an ok place to be. I have more original material to present, but it requires more work the other pieces. Thanks for chiming in, Peter. Let’s hear more from you.

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