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February 5, 2007

TT: Landmark

Our Girl and I received our two millionth page view at 9:05 yesterday morning. (The lucky viewer, in case you're curious, was from Lee's Summit, Missouri, Pat Metheny's home town.) That’s small potatoes by the high-flying standards of such heavily trafficked political blogs as Instapundit or Daily Kos, but a pretty respectable total for an artblog sneaking up on on its fourth anniversary.

I put up our first posting on July 14, 2003. Since that day we’ve watched artblogging evolve from a rarity into a commonplace. I wrote about the process in a long essay called “Culture in the Age of Blogging” published last year in Commentary. Here’s how it ended:

It may be that blogging will encourage the creation of a new kind of common culture, exerting something of the same unifying force as did the old middlebrow media (and as About Last Night seeks to do). Or not: if the experience of political blogs is any indication, blogging may be more likely to foster discrete subcultures of shared interest, larger and more cohesive but nonetheless separate….

One thing of which I am sure is that the common culture of my youth is gone for good. It was hollowed out by the rise of ethnic “identity politics,” then splintered beyond hope of repair by the emergence of the web-based technologies that so maximized and facilitated cultural choice as to make the broad-based offerings of the old mass media look bland and unchallenging by comparison. For all the nostalgia with which I look back on the days of the Top 40, the Book-of-the-Month Club, and The Ed Sullivan Show, I prefer to make my own cultural decisions, and I welcome the ease with which the new media permit me to do so.

At the same time, however, I still feel the need for a common space in which Americans can come together to talk about the things that matter to us all. And so my hope is that the blogosphere, for all its fissiparous tendencies, will evolve over time into just such a space. No doubt there will always be shouting in the blogosphere, but it need not all be past each other. When the history of blogging is written a half-century from now, its chroniclers may yet record that the highest achievement of the Internet, a seemingly impersonal piece of postmodern technology, turned out to be its unprecedented ability to bring creatures of flesh and blood closer together.

The jury is still out on the larger question of whether blogging as a whole is more divisive than unifying, but I think by now it’s perfectly clear that artblogging is becoming an important and increasingly significant aspect of world culture. In the eight hours leading up to our two millionth page view, we received visitors from Australia, Bulgaria, France, India, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Poland, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and (I especially like this one) Elmers End.

As for Our Girl and me, we’ve poured a considerable amount of time, energy, and (occasionally) grief into this site, all of it for free, and we don’t regret a bit of it. In the process we’ve made some close friends, and we’ve also made the acquaintance of a legion of readers whose continuing interest in what we do is the main reason why we continue doing it.

To all of you from both of us, our heartfelt thanks for stopping by. And don’t worry—we’ll still be here tomorrow.

Posted February 5, 2007 12:00 PM

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