S/V Country Dancer introduces “The Phlog”

Since the beginning of time, sailors have needed a way to record where they had been, so they could calculate how to get to where they wanted to go. They created the “log book” as a place to record all the “stuff” that was important to a ships voyage…the weather, the heading, the sea state and then other important events and encounters like “maintenance.” This “Ships log” was so critical to sailing that it soon took on the power of law, and things written in “the log” were accepted as legal fact, even in Court.

Suffice it to say a ships “log” is a most important document.

As we progressed into the electronic age, it was recognized that the same kind of log in a computer could track important events in the operating system. These “Binary Logs” have always been created automatically by the operating system so we can go back and see what was happening in the machine when a error occurred.

Someone, somewhere, realized that these “Binary Logs” could also be used to record purely human events on the computer as well. These early logs even pre-dated the Internet and Social Media, and became known as B-Logs… then shortened to just “Blog”.

Blogs have became so popular for recording human stories and events, that some of the most important software of our age started out as a simple “Blog”. “WordPress” software today supports well over 10 million web sites, and every one of them is based on the basic “Blog” format.

So as Blogs matured, they became ever more powerful. ASCII text gave way to “rich text” with fancy fonts, and word processor formatting. Then sound and even photographs could be added to the “Blog post.” Today nearly all Blogs can support full “multi-media” as a standard feature.

The SVCountryDancer website began as a Blog too. At first it was a lot of fun to write long articles that flowed from my innate story telling nature. Then it started to become a lot more work, and then it evolved into a tiresome obligation. Our neat new Blog stalled out when telling the story writing became more important and time consuming than actually living the story. Still, we enjoyed shooting the pictures and videos that were using in the Blog, I just ran out of energy for having to write a story before I could share them.

This winter we started counting our photos…. lots and lots of photos… in the last 4 years, we have taken over 20,000 photos and videos. These the the treasures of our adventure – but how do you MANAGE and then SHARE that?

This inspired me to create the “Interactive Map” on the SVCountryDancer website. For the first time, I could use automation to show our GPS track on a map, and link all those photos to spots on the map as well. Still telling the story wasn’t happening, but at least cataloging the photos and recording the track were automated to the point where they were no longer a burden.

Then I realized something important. All this time I had been writing stories and supporting them with photos. What would happen if I let the photos tell the story and used the written words only to support the photos, instead of the other way around? Instead of a written log, I would create a visual map and “photo log” accented and supported by written commentary. In other worlds it would be a photographic log, instead of a binary log. The “Phlog” was born.

Now maybe it should be a Vlog for Video log (like Active Captain suggests), but I use more than just videos. Maybe it should be a MLog for Multi-Media log, but neither of those have that nautical “ring” that I wanted for a name.

“Phlog” does.
Pronounce it like the captain did when applying discipline to a wayward sailor as he was tied to the mast and then “flogged.” (Sometimes I thought having to keep up with the Blog was worse than a good flogging). So “Phlog” it is. The worlds first “Phlogging site” is now www.svCountryDancer.com.

On our Map Page, click on the button on the right titled “Phlog View” and the screen re-configures to show a photographic and video record of all the important events of our adventure. As you scroll though the images, you will see the map move to show the location, and any gaps in the story are filled in by the onscreen commentary. Want to jump to a date, just click the calendar bars. Want to see photos or hear the story from a certain location? Just click that yellow spot on the map.

The “Phlog” may not work well for recording things like oil changes or how many gallons of fuel we took on, so the Ships Log isn’t going away soon. But for the rest of the story, please check out “The Country Dancer Phlog.”

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