It’s 27 May 2004, which makes it, among other things and improbably enough, the third anniversary of my first postings at the Virtual Stoa. This blog’s a pretty trivial blog in the grand scheme of things (we can be more precise: actually it’s an Adorable Little Rodent), and I rather like it that way. But Three Years Not Out makes this one of the oldest blogs on the block: only a small fraction of the blogs out there can claim a pre-11.9.2001 existence, for example (though admittedly, I can barely do that, with only 15 posts posted before that date, and most of them trivial).

So it’s a trivial anniversary for a trivial blog. But I did want to take the opportunity on this day (no, I’m not going to use that nasty word) to say two things about this blog, about blogging and bloggers.

First, that what I’ve always liked about blogging is the way it fills up both the interstices of my day and the intersections of my life.

On the interstices: I don’t write many long posts, so most of the posts I post don’t take long to prepare and are just scribbled down on the spur of the moment, and that suits a life and a job where I’m often at the computer keyboard for short to medium periods of time at different times of the day, in between the important work of teaching and meetings and eating and drinking. And the subjects of my blogposts dwell on the interstices of my regular life, too: I don’t say much here about my teaching life, let alone my research, or about what might laughably be called my personal life, but instead about the bits that fall in between the major pieces of my life: things from books, things found in newspapers, things on other blogs and in other parts of the web, dead socialists, that kind of thing. It’s all pretty interstitial, and I like it that way.

On the intersections: it’s always been a source of satisfaction to me that the readers of this blog come from many of the different parts of my life, and they include friends from my incarnations both in this country and in the US, relatives, students (current and former), academic colleagues in and outside Oxford, other bloggers, complete strangers, and so on. And I sometimes feel that writing on this blog, for those people, as well as for myself, is one way of drawing together the threads of recent years that might otherwise fall into too many different, wholly separate compartments (to mix metaphors, horribly).

Second, that it’s time to say a series of thanks to all the other people out there — including the ones alluded to above — who’ve taken an interest in this blog and who collectively continue to make this activity worthwhile.

I’ve been sustained along the way by the unintended moral support provided by many other bloggers. First of all, there are those I know in the real world — Moiderin’ Marc and Ishbadiddlin’ Ennis and Silverdollarcirclin’ Simon — who have been joined in recent months by a further cohort of people I know — sometimes quite well — including Josephine, Raj, Mike B., Sarah, Mike S, Jason, all dipping their toes in the blogwaters and starting to write excellent blogthings on their excellent blogsites. And then there are those whom I only know through their blogs, which I keenly follow (except when the posts are about motor racing), and these include Nick and Matthew and Harry and Backword Dave and some of the others who fill out my blogroll.

Two who deserve a special mention, however — a shout-out, even, if that’s the right word — are my two fellow blogging UK academic political theory lefty types, from whom I’ve learned a very great deal over the last chunk of time, and not just about how to write a good blog. Chris Bertram wrote Junius once upon a time, which was the first seriously good British blog, and I’ve been delighted to meet him in person, now on two different continents. And while I haven’t yet met Norm Geras — though he’s threatening a visit — the Normblog has been a source of very great pleasure and interest over the last nine months — and while Norm hasn’t yet persuaded me about Iraq, he might take some consolation from the fact that he has persuaded me that Emmylou Harris is almost as good as he says she is, and that I’m now the happy owner of almost a dozen of her records. CDs. Whatever.

[And an occasion like this should always include a toast to absent friends: Paul “The Thinker” Richards gave me a — yet another, I should say — reason for living, and I’m sorry he’s quit the World of Blogs. (This, I think, is where he’s gone, and if so, this may make sense of his final, enigmatic blogpost.)]

So those are the two things I wanted to say.

Finally to some quick Virtual Stoa Stats: this is the 918th post, which makes for an average of a little under one post per day over the long haul, only 10% of which related to dead socialists. There have also been 674 comments posted with the automated system since I introduced it a little over a year ago. And I don’t think I’ve ever deleted a comment yet, apart from to remove duplicate posts and the like, which is how I’d like things to stay. Since Sitemeter was installed a while ago, there have been 49.137 visitors and 71, 222 page views. And Technorati reports that there are now 65 inbound sources and 78 inbound links to this blog. OK. That’s enough statistics.

Final, final thought: it’s a curious fact that I haven’t changed the visual layout of this blog to any considerable extent since the very first post, and nor have I ever felt tempted to. Given that I’m generally crap at visual stuff, I wonder how it turned out that way?

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