Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Take back this pudding. It has no theme.
- attributed to Winston Churchill

One year ago tonight I started this blog. I did it because a group of posters on the Fray (the online discussion group appended to Slate magazine) was starting a writing group, and decided to publish their contributions through blogs. I had thought about blogging before, but assumed there was some financial outlay involved in getting set up. The organizer of the Fray writing group gave directions on how to set up a blog on Blogger, and I followed them. Having set the thing up, I began using it to publish whatever came across my mind, all unrelated to the writing group, to which, I'm afraid, I never contributed.

Why the awful name? Shortly before I set up the blog, I saw the phrase "self-absorbed boomer" in several contexts. I was born in 1946, so I'm on the leading edge of the post-World War 2 baby boom, and my wife does occasionally accuse me of being self-absorbed. So I put it down, with the thought that, since I wasn't likely to draw a big readership, I could always blame the blog's lack of popularity on its title (or, should it enjoy any degree of success, revel in its having succeeded despite its name). Anyway, changing it now seems like too much of a hassle.

So, what's it all about? Well, despite the name, it's nothing like Jonathan Franzen's memoir. It is self-absorbed in the sense that it includes stuff about a number of childhood fascinations that I've never lost (dinosaurs, ships, trains) as well as ones I've developed later in life (architecture, baseball, economics) which, taken together, are, if not unique to me, certainly not a constellation of interests likely to coincide with those of a very large group of people. What I'm doing is taking the long tail theory to a length it probably can't reach. If, say, someone with a strong interest in architecture hits on my blog when that's the topic of my top post, she may bookmark it and come back. But if she then finds a post about college football, she may give up on it. If this were a business, and I was depending on it for my sustenance, I'd disaggregate; that is, I'd have "Claude's Baseball Blog", "Claude's Life in Brooklyn Heights Blog", and so forth. But it's not, and I won't.

How long will I keep on doing this? So long as marginal utility > marginal cost. (Thank you, Barbara Katz and Larry White.)

One thing I am going to change. I'd like very much to hear from you; to get your reaction to the blog in general and to what I've written about it here. However, with a few exceptions (mostly fellow Fraysters), people have not been eager to leave comments. One probable reason is that I've not allowed anonymous comments. I'm going on to Blogger Dashboard now to change that. Please feel free to comment anonymously if that's the only way you're comfortable doing it.

Thank you all. Here's hoping we can do this again one year hence.