But bear with me. The anniversary of About Last Night sneaked up on me. Most days, I would probably give a little start if you reminded me we weren’t always thus. I wasn’t here at the beginning, but I was loitering just behind the scenes, interested as hell but still occupying some sort of limbo between ardent blog reader and bona fide blogger (my personal anniversary, not counting guest blogging, comes in October). As Terry says below and Sarah echoes here, the last year has been an explosive one for culture blogging. It’s hard to imagine that when Terry started this site, I didn’t yet know about TMFTML, Maud, Cup of Chicha, or Old Hag. And Elegant Variation, Pullquote, Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind, Return of the Reluctant–essential daily reads that seem like permanent fixtures–didn’t exist. Golden Rule Jones was primarily a listings site. The cabal was not incorporated, not yet a splinter under Jennifer Howard’s skin. And the fact that I can’t remember the first time I noticed half these blogs is, I think, testament to the excellent openness of this world.
This landscape changes fast. About Last Night has itself undergone some semi-dramatic reinvention during the year of its existence. The two major changes: moving from a fixed daily posting to a looser, rolling schedule; and adding, ahem, a co-blogger. In retrospect, both of these seem natural if not inevitable developments, reflecting perhaps the two great distinguishing features of the technology: its instantaneity and the way it facilitates conversation and community. Michael Blowhard happened to reflect on the origins of his site this week, talking about how his and the now-retired Friedrich von B’s traditional opening salutations were a vestige of their early practice of simply blogging their email. Although Terry and I don’t often include the salutation here, much of our blogging is in that spirit, if not straight from our email. (Although our friendship began in person when I worked for his publisher, it was cemented through a robust email correspondence that began after I moved to Chicago.) Always a shy type, I sometimes still experience a paralyzing brand of stage fright when trying to put together a post; simply typing the words “Dear Terry” at the beginning of the draft is a reliable trick for shaking off my reticence and some of the stiff formality of my early drafts. So, a resounding yes to everything Terry said earlier today about the intensely personal nature of the medium. And, while I don’t think the irrelevance of the print media is quite nigh, I do love the way blogs have made stories in publications like the New York Times no longer the last word on a topic, but a starting point for discussion, dispute, elaboration, and amplification from every point of view.
None of these thoughts are particularly original, but today I’ll settle for being apropos. I second Terry’s thanks to Doug McLennan, all our blogger friends, and especially everyone who reads us. Coattails can be a beautiful thing, and I may have come in on Terry’s, but now you’re stuck with me!