Binder clips can also be used for:
- Holding wounds closed until the airlift arrives
- Holding eyes closed during scary movie scenes
- Holding eyes open during the Ludovico Technique
- Fun ear fashion
- Temporary rock-climbing carabiners seriously go on try it
- Holding sheets of paper together
- Male contraception “in a pinch”
- Add duct tape for a DIY eyelash curler!
You get the idea. Two years ago, I was faffing around in my San Diego condo. I was alone, because Cassie and I had not yet moved in together, so my evenings were spent in solitary domesticity. A “lovingly” detailed description of one of these evenings is here.
I had some beer in the fridge. I’m not a big solo drinker, so they’d been there for a while. It was the remains of my CostCo Mexican Beers variety pack, with Corona, Sol, Tecate and Dos Equis (they also do Dos Equus, but that has been known to cause nudity and horse mutilation). There were also a couple of bottles of Karl Strauss Woodie Gold (lovely stuff). They wouldn’t stand up because of the non-variability of the shelves, and the gaps between the wires, so I lay them down. When I stacked them they rolled apart, so I just grabbed a binder clip and attached it to the wire shelf – it fit nicely, and stopped the bottles rolling.
I snapped a pic with my then-new-but-now-retired Palm Centro, uploaded it to Flickr, and pretty much forgot about it.
… time passes …
One day, I got an email from Shaun Usher, the editor of the fascinating and highly recommended scanned vintage correspondence blog Letters of Note, asking if he could use my letter from Douglas Adams on the site. I wrote back and agreed readily, although it’s not really a letter of note – no revelations are made, no advice is given, and I didn’t go on to become an author myself. Adams’ love of the Biggles books is a matter of record elsewhere, I think. Nice to be thought of though.
I don’t think the letter was ever used in the end, but Shaun must have been browsing around, because on August 16th he tweeted a link to the binder clip photo. There was a flurry of re-tweeting, the photo got a bit of interest, and several people made the photo a favorite.
In late September, Adam Pash from the tips and tricks blog Lifehacker ran a post with a list of uses for binder clips. Having been reminded of my own use, I posted the photo as a comment. A couple of days later, Adam ran another post highlighting the comment, and the Flickr views took off like a rocket.
Take a look at the stats – 157,000+ views!
The day after Lifehacker featured it, someone posted it on Reddit. That gave another big boost to the ratings, and ever since there’s been a trickle of interest, from Argentina, Japan and all over. It is the most popular photo I’ve ever taken, and the most “interesting” in the Flickr sense (views, favorites, comments etc). Just for a sense of scale, my next most interesting photo is some people in costume at Comic Con which got 3000 views, followed by an old scanned photo of my Star Wars toys (sensing a theme?) with 426 views, my ex-dog when he was a puppy, the Adams letter, and some cool British vintage cars.
The comments on the photo, and on the various posts which link to it, fall into a few main categories:
- “Why not stand them up?”
- “Glad to see someone drinking good beer.”
- “Why are you drinking pissy Mexican beer?”
- “Beer doesn’t last that long in my fridge!”
- “You shouldn’t lay beer down its bad theres plastic and bacteria in the cap and the air spoils it and its not wine and you shouldn’t do it.”
- “Whatever, attention-grabbing smartass.”
It’s funny to see so much debate about beer, how to store it, assumptions about my reasons for taking the photo, and remarks about the whole binder-clips-are-the-new-duct-tape-is-the-new-AOL-disk thing. It was a cameraphone snap of a quick solution, and I have to tell you…
…it doesn’t actually work that well. I had to add another clip to make it more stable, but it’s not very scalable, and the clips rust, and the bottles have to be the same size. But I don’t mean to be a snark. It’s nice and novel to be “famous” on the internet for 1.5 minutes. It makes me wonder how people who get more attention more regularly (ie pretty much everyone else) cope with it all.