Oh, if only Crosscut had been launched in 2005. Would we have written about human-horse sex? I think we'd have found a way. Because as Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat wrote two years ago: "A case can be made that the articles on horse sex are the most widely read material this paper has published in its 109-year history."
There's a lot to be said for search-engine optimization, and I just said it. But in 2007 we didn't have human-horse sex to write about. At Crosscut, the year's most popular were stories about where horsepower intersects with human nature. The long debate of and vote on Proposition 1, the roads-and-transit measure that failed last month, defined Crosscut's young existence, almost from our first day, on April 2. Five of this year's most-clicked-on Crosscut stories were about transportation.
None of these top stories, you will notice, were published after July 6. That's because we made this list based on total clicks, and the older a story is, the more time there is to click on it. Perhaps in the future we should measure only clicks for a 30-day period after a story is published. Note to self.
One other note: One of the delightful surprises in Crosscut's first year has been the quality of reader comments. While other Web sites and blogs seem to have a lot of stupid, insulting, unenlightened, or profane commentary below every post, Crosscut has been blessed with thoughtful, if impassioned, contributions from regular and occasional readers alike. Thanks to all of you for making our first nine months an enlightening exchange.
And now, the top 10.
- The Seattle-area transportation proposals: a vast waste of money
By Richard Morrill, June 19
We said then: "Trains won't solve our problems, and we can't go back to an automobile era. The solution, unfortunately, is not on the ballot next November. That would be more buses, congestion management, and overall better use of the highways we have."
We say now: The solution, unfortunately, will not be on the ballot next November, either, or the November after that – but maybe in 2010? Completion of Link Light Rail to the airport in 2009 – a functional, tangible big-ticket transit system – could re-ignite taxpayer willingness to undertake a big project.
- What do you think about widespread highway tolling?
We said then: "Crosscut would like you to weigh in after reading our special report, No Exit: Pay Toll Ahead by Dean Paton. Comment here on any or all of the five parts."
We say now: How is it that tens of thousands of people have clicked on this, and there are only 41 comments? Also, more people looked at these 41 comments than at any of the five installments of the series itself. Huh?
- The carbon cost of building and operating light rail
By Emory Bundy, June 25
We said then: "Rail mass transit is supposed to be good for the environment. But a leading critic of Sound Transit's Link light rail project offers metrics that suggest the environmental costs are much higher than those of more vanpools, more carpools, more buses, and, particularly, more bicycling."
We say now: This article prompted some of the most passionate and thoughtful comments of the year. To cite just one from the dissenting side, by prolific Crosscut commenter "The Piper": "Old people, cold people, suited people, night people, long distance people, infirm people, and people who just plain don't like being told what to do ain't about to trade in the Outback, Suburban, or even the Geo Metro for for a bike! Transportation policy shouldn't be social engineering."
- How dense can they be?
By Knute Berger, April 16
We said then: "Many Seattle enviros are tied to a political machine and a brand of urbanism that is helping to make the city unaffordable, less diverse, and more elitist. And as cheerleaders of density, they often ignore the downsides of regional role models like Vancouver, Portland, and San Francisco."
We say now: We foresee a growing conflict between those who think solutions to urban mobility must also address climate change and those who just want to make it easier to live in an urban area.
- Some modest proposals regarding bicycle riders in Seattle
By Greg Palmer, May 2
We said then: "This writer has had about enough of their sense of entitlement, their arrogance, their carelessness, and their attire."
We say now: Reaction to these – we'll say it again – modest proposals did not disappoint.
- A study of Seattle media obsession with studies
By Knute Berger, June 7
We said then: "Want a stadium? More arts funding? Pork for bio-tech? Just turn to the new boom business journalists can't resist: the economic-impact industry."
We say now: High impact! So many clicks, so many comments, like this one: "Your article is a weak attack on strong economic impact studies using tested methodology accepted by social scientists. Not once do you provide a valid analytical or methodological critique in your rant. Rather, you only spout your opinion of disbelief with nothing to support it but a lot of hot air. You, sir, are a blowhard."
- Government's really bad IDea
By Knute Berger, April 26
We said then: "Washington joins the rebellion against turning your driver's license into a national ID card, but there's plenty more to worry about with a new state pilot project that could allow thieves, private companies, the government – even terrorists – to track your every move."
We say now: We know who's been clicking on this story, and we're keeping a list.
- Delivered on electronic paper, the Seattle P-I won't be your father's Web site
By Bill Richards, May 18
We said then: "The flat, flexible display screen you can roll up and put in your pocket or purse might finally be here. Hearst Corp., owner of the Post-Intelligencer and an investor in the technology, said it plans to test it, possibly in Seattle."
We say now: Since this was published, Kindle was unveiled, and it's totally sold out. It uses the very technology we wrote about.
- Just another metropolis
By Jonathan Raban, July 6
We said then: "There remain only hints of Seattle's scrappy, provincial heritage of fish, timber, and frontier commerce – of even the sonic and binary booms that propelled the modern city to greatness. Seattle no longer feels unique."
We say now: English by birth, Raban has a strong sense of place – the place where he happens to be. He's chosen to live here, and his non-fictional and fictional insights on Seattle are always great reads. The comments that followed this essay are enlightening, too.
- Repeat until it feels true: The Highway 520 bridge project is not the Viaduct
By O. Casey Corr, April 24
We said then: "Replacing the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge is tough and necessary. So how do we avoid a repeat of the Viaduct fiasco?"
We say now: The governor's in charge of this one now, and it will be important to see how she handles the big and small constituents of the Montlake neighborhood.