Today is the tenth anniversary of normblog; it began on 28 July 2003 with a simple 'Let's go' (in the immortal words of Sam Peckinpah). To mark the occasion I offer a brief fact and/or observation for each of the ten years.
1. Since my 70th birthday falls late next month, I have now been blogging more or less daily for a seventh of my life, and I have to say I find this astonishing. It would be different if I were only 14. But a seventh of my life at my age! And when blogging still seems a bit like something that's just happened. Anyway, ten years ago I had not the slightest inkling of what I was getting into from a temporal point of view.
2. It's the writing. Maybe I should have been a diarist, though I have never had that inclination; but the main reason I blog and have kept at blogging is that I enjoy the process of putting together an argument or just setting out something that I hope will be of interest to others. That is what motivates me here.
3. Since I started this blog, there have been 15,045 posts - which is 125 per month and some 4 per day on average.
4. The best thing for me about blogging, no question, is the many new friends I've made through doing it. This is internet friends and face-to-friends both. I know people in Australia, in North America, why, even in London, whom I would not have known but for the correspondence that first grew up between us because of my blog, often leading to later personal meetings. I value these friendships enormously. The tale that people who spend too much time on their computers are made lonely by it is one-sided at best.
5. The Euston Manifesto was the main political outcome of my blogging and that is something I'm happy about. I don't mean to claim sole ownership of it. It was produced for a loose grouping of people and there were other inputs than mine, though I was the principal author. But my participation in the group that produced it and what I wrote of the actual text would not have happened had I not been writing regularly for normblog, and in that way my blogging was a precondition. There are, of course, shortcomings in the document; but all in all, and for the time when it was produced, I'm reasonably proud of it.
6. I am grateful to those who have supported normblog over the years, friendly readers, whether regular or occasional - people who email me with pertiment comment, leaving aside the small number amongst these who don't know how to disagree without being unpleasant about it. It is a mark of the general point I'm making here how little of my email correspondence has been of this unpleasant, and how much of it of the other, kind.
7. The total number of visits to normblog over the whole ten years has been slightly in excess of 5,797,000 - on average nearly 1,600 a day.
8. I'm also grateful to people who have contributed to normblog in various ways: by sending me links, by sending helpful comments, by writing guest posts, by contributing to the series I have run: the Writer's Choice series, the memories of cricket, the normblog profiles. And by taking part in my occasional normblog polls.
9. The pleasure of writing (registered at 2 above) has its negative counterpart in the pressure to find something to blog about on 'slow' days: days when the news agenda is rebarbative to one's inclinations, and when Google News and Twitter and Facebook all fail to yield something you want to hook on to. Gee, I hate it when that happens. But happen it does and I suppose must now and again, otherwise I'd just be an automaton and then where would I be?
10. Last night, and I think for the first time ever, I actually dreamt a conceptual argument. The dream had other features, with the weirdness that dreams often display. I was at a conference and a friend I was talking to was two different (real) people I have known, now one, now the other. I was annoyed because I still had a question I wanted to raise and the chair had let the session run down and start to break up even though there were still 15 scheduled minutes unused. An item of clothing of mine was - how shall I put it? - not properly in position, and in a way that would normally have embarrassed me but because of my irritation, didn't. Yet, in among all this, my shape-shifter friend set out a conceptual argument (about the transformation problem in Marx, if you must know) that I have never thought while I was awake and that was new to me. I wonder if ten years of blogging can do this to a person: get you dreaming conceptually in search of something to use later on the blog.