“And whatever you spend in good, it will be repaid to you in full, and you shall not be wronged.” (Quran 2:272)
Most every anniversary of the website, I do another instalment of the “Why Do I Do It” (the second most frequently asked question I get) series. Once again, Seth Godin has captured another dimension to this expensive hobby which contributes to my daily drive to uncover the latest information and draft up hopefully helpful perspectives…
- “Is there something you do every day that builds an asset for you? Every single day? Something that creates another bit of intellectual property that belongs to you? Something that makes an asset you own more valuable? Something that you learn? Every single day is a lot of days. It’s easy to look at the long run and lull yourself into skipping a day now and then. But the long run is made up of short runs.” – Seth Godin “The Daily”
Maldives Complete is my daily dose of sunshine, my periodic prescription of paradise.
The first decade of Maldives fandom completed. The 10th anniversary of the Maldives Complete website today.
And, in keeping with its original mission, it has continued to get more and more complete now achieving the high water mark of 99.56% completeness. That’s 16 pieces of information missing out of a potential 3,600 from the profiles of 143 active resorts (not counting all the added information about 61 inactive properties – ie. not yet opened or closed). 6 of those missing pieces are dive charts from the relatively newly developed atolls (ie. Raa, Thaa, Shaviyani). 5 of those are from 2 relatively recent openings – Miriandhoo and Sangeli – for whom photography is not yet complete.
This past year was the first one that I have not added a major feature or component to the site and this year I didn’t really add any new significant data fields or design changes for the first time ever (last year I added “Name Meaning” and the new logo and palette). So maybe the site functionality itself if becoming more “Complete”.
Happy Birthday to Seth Godin. Seth is of my inspirations to the wide range of blogging that I do, the most prominent of which is Maldives Complete here. These days you can’t swing a palm frond without hitting a blogger (especially in the Maldives), but when I started in 2009, the whole medium was quite novel. Seth was one of the first to embrace and extoll the platform and provided lots of tip and insights both explicitly and through example of his own work.
- “This is post 7,000” – “The secret to writing a daily blog is to write every day. And to queue it up and blog it. There is no other secret…The discipline of sharing something daily is priceless. Sometimes there are typos. I hope that they’re rare and I try to fix them. Over time, the blog adds up. People remember a blog post a year after I wrote it. Or they begin a practice, take an action, make a connection, something that grows over time. The blog resonates with people in so many fields, it’s thrilling to see how it can provoke positive action. It’s true that I’d write this blog even if no one read it, but I want to thank you for reading it, for being here day after day. It’s more fun that way.”
- “Susdat” – “Writer’s block is a myth, a recent invention, a cultural malady. More important than the output, though, is the act itself. The act of doing it every day. When you commit to a practice, you will certainly have days when you don’t feel like it, when you believe it’s not your best work, when the muse deserts you. But, when you keep your commitment, the muse returns. When you keep your commitment, the work happens. It doesn’t matter if anyone reads it, buys it, sponsors it or shares it. It matters that you show up. Show up, sit down and type.”
- “Gaztelugatxe” – “There’s an island off the coast of Spain that houses a church. The church has 230 steps to the top, and it’s said that it’s worth the climb. What a great expression. Gaztelugatxe can now mean, ‘it’s a lot of steps, but worth it.’ The opposite of fast and easy but worthless.”
The first two posts referenced above talk about ‘daily practice’ and while I may not post every day, I would say that I do something on Maldives Complete every day – respond to emails, update date, investigate leads, research pieces, etc. His thoughts help to express the answer to the 2nd most frequently asked question that I get (the first being “What is the best resort”), and that is “Why do you do Maldives Complete?”.
If you work at something fun, then you will never have to work. That is part of the spirit of why I do Maldives Complete (still the second most frequently asked question about the website). I value keeping my creative edge sharp in much the same way that I enjoy keeping my physical fitness up. The problem is that tedious gym sessions can be a painful and boring way to workout. Which is why I enjoy activities like ballroom and Latin dancing, basketball, and rowing all of which provide an engaging and enjoyable way to keep the conditioning strong. Similarly, my hobby of Maldives Complete pays considerable dividends in my professional life. Here a few pieces of advice which resonate with me and illustrate this concept of life-long exercise of the creativity muscle…
- “Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.” – Kurt Vonnegut
- “Employees who did something creative after work – like knitting, drawing or even playing a video game that required creative thinking – were more likely to be helpful and creative problem solvers on the job, according to new research from San Francisco State University.” – CNN
- “#5 – Make Writing a Practice – A common first mistake is thinking you’re not a writer. That it’s a domain reserved solely for people with ‘creative’ in their title. Nonsense. If your job depends on articulating ideas, you need to write. Not to mention, you need to write with clarity, with simplicity and, at times, unfettered imagination.” – Doug Kleeman, “20 Ways to Become A Better Strategist”
Another year of Maldives fandom completed. The 9th anniversary of the Maldives Complete website.
The Resort Profile data is inching forward in completeness with Resort Profiles up to 98.9%. The primary issue causing remaining holes has been the addition of new resorts at new atolls, like Raa and Thaa, where I have less dive site information so Dive Charts and Dive Maps are missing from the profiles. The completeness of the Room Type profiles dropped a tad with a record number of new resort launches (room type material is hard to obtain and takes longer to collect).
This is probably the first year that I have not added a major feature or component to the site. So maybe not just the Profile data, but the even the functionality of the site is growing more “Complete”.
All that said, the site hasn’t stood still. In addition to the ongoing research, responding, updating, and other refining and polishing, I made a few significant changes:
- New Logo – The look of the website got refresh a bit with its new logo by Maldivian artist and designer Aima Musthafa. The new branding added an local Dhivehi dimension. In the process, Aima provided some superb input as we cleaned up the look a bit with her more coherent colour palette. She has proposed some more dramatic change to the home page which I am working on (stay tuned).
- Name Meaning – I actually cleared down a number of unused fields in the database, but I did add a fun one which took a fair amount of research populate further extended the Dhivehi dimension of the site – “Name Meaning”. And I learned a bit more Dhivehi in the process.
The Fashionista features keep growing in popularity and are fuelled by even more Instragramming than ever providing lots of shard photos to curate for the Maldives aficionado crowd. Below is sort of a ‘leader board’ of the top social media fashionistas to visit the destination…
The Maldives keeps developing and getting better and so, we hope, does Maldives Complete. The latest refinement injects an extra bit of authentic Maldivian style and flair to the site with the contributions of up-and-coming artist Aima Musthafa (see photo below) who has redesigned its logo and design palette.
I’ve admired Aima’s work since I first discovered her in the “Cool Women” piece. I’m honoured to have been her very first customer and proud owner of her triptych “Raalhu Girl” (“Raalu” means “wave” in Dhivehi). After going abroad for some art and design studies, she has returned to her home shores to ply her creative brush and was recently was showcased in Kandima’s artist collective.
The Maldives Complete brief was to infuse the look with colour and culture of the Maldives it represented. I wanted to add the Dhivehi words for “Maldives Complete – “Furihama Dhivehi Raajje”. So Aima selected a font that would work well in both languages capturing the dynamic fluidity of the Dhivehi characters.
Part of what drives to me to this hobby is the escapism of immersing myself into the Laccadive world even though I am hunkered down five thousand miles away in damp, chilly England. I’ve always crafted the site to be saturated with local imagery so using it would be like a digital visit to this paradise. I have always used a collection of colours that evokes the vibrant tropical and aquatic tapestry of the destination. Aima formalised this palette some colours more carefully aligned in tone and complementarity (see her notes below). She then blended the native colours into a design similarly melding familiar shapes and forms. The result is a striking new emblem for all complete Maldives appreciation.
The new logo has also been an opportunity for a general cosmetic tidy-up to the site as I had to touch so may main pages. I have aligned some of the graphical elements more precisely and used Aima’s colour palette in place across the pages.
This week is the world famous Scripps Spelling Bee. The contestants should hope they don’t get the deceptively simple word of “what do you call the activity of using a snorkel?”
First, there is the UK/American variation. In the USA, it is “Snorkeling” and in the UK, it is “Snorkelling” (the way to remember is that the UK is “double-barrelled” with the “LL”. Sort of like a shotgun on a bird shoot or a double-barrelled name like “Baron-Cohen” or “Parker-Bowles”).
But, Maldives’ number 1 activities comes by a number of other monikers as well…
- Skin Diving
- Surface Diving
- Snorting – rare, but comes from the “snorkel” on a submarine which is called a “snort”
I confess that I have used the two interchangeably. In the post body that’s okay, but it breaks up the tags so with this post I have done the housekeeping of updating all the tags for posts on this subject to the both versions (so that anyone doing searches will find either).
One of my most frequent FAQs is “why do I do it??” (why put so much time into researching and update the Maldives Complete website). I often respond to people that “Maldives Complete” is my hobby. To which they respond, “Sounds like an expensive hobby.” My response to that comment is usually, “Well, most hobbies are expensive…travel, golf, cars, etc.” Maybe not knitting and jigsaw puzzles. But I came upon a drawing by my friend Hugh MacLeod (above) and I think he captured the sentiment even better. Simply put, immersing myself in paradise 365 days a year makes me happy. J
Today is Train Day today celebrated by people whose hobbies are trainspotting and train sets. My Maldives hobby is a bit like both of those. Like trainspotting, I get a big thrill to find a unique feature I didn’t know about, a missing resort picture or piece of information, or (recently) spotting a fashionable celebrity photo. And the website itself is like my own little train set that I am constantly tinkering, tweaking, adding, perfecting.
It’s also a different type of “training” altogether. I actually first started the site as a sandbox to play with, experiement with and learn new Internet technologies. As the digital world has progressed, Maldives Complete has been the locomotive steaming me through the landscape of new interactivity (eg. porting Silverlight to HTML5), social media (blogging, migrating to WordPress, engaging with Instagram).
Thomas the Tank Engine: You’re a really helpful engine.
Lady: And helping each other, brings to life the magic in all of us.
[In “Thomas the Magic Railroad”, the conductors finally get their supply of magic gold dust]
“Curiosity, in fact, turns out to be a quiet superpower that all of us have.”
So just why do I keep going. Still, the second most frequently asked question I get after 7 years. Another reason to add to the list of motivations – curiosity. Curious about what’s new, how different resorts are positioning themselves, how the destination is evolving, what I shouldn’t miss on my next visit.
It turns out that there are a number of different types of curiosity as Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman describe in their article “Six Kinds of Curiosity – And How You Can Use Them to Change Your Life” (thanks Steve)
- Curiosity is the key to understanding people’s personalities and motivations.
- Curiosity is a vital storytelling tool—and storytelling is the best way to engage and persuade other people, in your work life and your personal life.
- Curiosity is a fantastic source of courage.
- Curiosity is the best, most under-used management tool—a great way to create engagement in your fellow works, but also a great way to transmit values and priorities.
- Curiosity is the spark for creativity and innovation, the best long-term investment you can make.
- Curiosity is the best way to stay connected to those who are most important to you.
I hope Maldives Complete continues to inspire and feed your curiosity about this corner of paradise on the planet for years to come.
“How sad that anyone reaches a point in life where they lose the gift of curiosity and stop learning. That is the day they stop growing and begin dying in the world” – Rev. Patrick O’Neill.
Another year for Maldives Complete! Lucky 7 in total and what a year it has been. While the traffic stays level (possibly maxed out my niche), the content has spiked up in quantity and quality more than just about any year since its launch. To underscore the leap of the year, I’ve segregated out the annual change for a number of the site stats in the tables above.
A few numbers that stand out…
- % Complete on Resort Profiles – Completeness was blunted by lack of Dive Charts for new resorts in new atolls – Raa, Thaa and Dhaalu, but still inched closer by a sliver to just a whisker under 99%.
- % Complete on Room Profiles – Good to finally get to the >80% level in this area I added a few years ago.
- # Posts – Nearly doubled this year to practically daily posting compared to recent years where the pace was more like every other day. Resorts and website fans are sending me lots of stuff making my job a lot easier.
- Resort Profile Photos – The resort pix leapt up by much more than previous years with the addition of “Arrival Jetty” and “Model” to the profiles.
The Instagram revolution barrels along. Now by far the dominant social media platform for Maldives posts. Twitter has waned into near insignificance. Facebook is solid, but more so for personal posts than celebrity ones. Since I added the fashionista dimension, I’ve posted 1,025. And the fashionista database has another 1,721 in its troves. If you’re curious (I was), the top fashioinistas to hit the Laccadive shores are a listed by social medium below (dominated by USA and India).
From what we can determine, polling various industry experts and Maldives aficionados, Lori and I have stayed in more Maldives resorts than any one on the planet. We certainly have snorkelled more house reefs than anyone (we make a point to snorkel every house reef, where it is possible to snorkel including some lagoons). We stay at about 10 resorts each year, but last year, the net new active resorts open has increased by 8 so we are struggling to keep up!