May 23, 2005

Backstage: Thanks for the 2,000,000 Visits

AT SOME POINT THIS WEEK, my trusty Site Meter will register 2,000,000 visits to this page since June 9, 2003. This point will be reached about a fortnight short of the second anniversary of American Digest. I don't really understand 2 million anything other than, while it is not a lot of money any longer, I could certainly use the dollar version in order to devote the rest of my life to finishing my decades long argument with Dante. (Don't ask. You don't want or need to know.)

A previous version of this page -- ( American Digest - Dispatches from the New America) was begun in early 2002 in reaction to the events of 9/11, but the only extant pages from that in the at the Way Back Machine date from May of that year. It is

interesting to note that the links from that version are: Arts and Letters Daily, Andrew Sullivan, Best of the Web, InstaPundit, James Lileks, Jeff Jarvis, Joanne Jacobs, Jonah Goldberg, Little Green Footballs, Kausfiles, Ken Layne, Matt Welch, Michael Barone, Photodude, Pundit Watch, Samizdata, Sgt. Stryker, The Corner, U.S.S. Clueless, and Virginia Postrel.

Most still active and, with the sad exception of Andrew Sullivan who has gone off to his own private Happydale, still worth the link and the time. The 9/11 New York version of American Digest continued until November of 2002 and lapsed during my move from New York City to Laguna Beach.

Looking at the Archive I see that the first thing published on this site was a story about Sizzler called Do You Want Fries with That? That certainly seems American enough for an American Digest. The first longer essay item was The Brand Extension Blight . Which, upon re-reading, seems to hold up pretty well and rings even more true today than when it was written.

Since that June, I've published around 3,000 other items of differing lengths and wildly differing worth. In sum, American Digest turns out to be pretty much a record of what seemed to me to be interesting at the time.

I've lately moved away from that approach as regular readers will have noted. It no longer seems to me that what seems interesting in the day is really that interesting at all once the day is over. It being the case that, after not too long a time, "all the news just repeats itself." Besides, there are plenty of other sites that do a much better job of re-acting to the news than I can.

For the immediate future, I'm going to try to resist the short item, the quick quip, the rim-shot or the zinger. Those things can go, if they must, into the sidebar over there on the right. Instead, I think I'll use this part of the page for working in what has lately seemed to me to be a more rewarding form -- the one-draft essay of moderate to long length. My current discipline, if you can call it that, is to come to the page first thing in the morning without any preconceived notion of what I will write about and to essentially "discover" it. Then I set myself to write an essay that starts where it starts and ends where it ends. Then I publish that draft, clean it up a bit, and let it go. It's the "Fire and Forget" method of writing. I know that much of what results will seem long and tedious to those who like the quick hit and the slick link, but, as I said, there is no shortage of those available.

Looking back from almost two years and two million visits, it certainly seems like item one in June of 2003 was a long time ago. In many ways, it was. But seen from another perspective, one that I am beginning to appreciate more and more, it really is only an inch of time. Not that much at all. I think I can go another inch. We'll see.

So thanks to all of you, the known and the unknown readers of this page, for stopping by either once or two million times.

Posted by Vanderleun at May 23, 2005 8:05 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

About 300, give or take. Once a day or so since this:

Posted by: Harvey at May 23, 2005 9:10 PM

I'm a newbie and I'm hooked.

Posted by: Barbara Spalding at May 23, 2005 9:45 PM

Congratulations, Gerard!

Believe me, the pleasure is ours.

Posted by: danae at May 23, 2005 10:08 PM

Some are sprinters, some are marathoners. I happen to like the long form, myself. Congratulations on passing the two million milestone--not an inconsiderable achievement, to be sure.

Posted by: neo-neocon at May 23, 2005 10:28 PM

I've learned more about writing and poetry here, than I did in two years as an English major (a major mercifully ended in favor of a technology degree). Thank you.

Posted by: P.A. Breault at May 23, 2005 10:56 PM

I'm just creeping up on the 10,000 mark myself (sometime this week). I can only stand in awe at the 2,000,000 visits you've logged. Congratulations, indeed!

Posted by: Nicholas at May 24, 2005 2:49 PM

Well done, sir. 2,000,000 is a hearty number. You could write a couple of symphonies from the pings.

As for your recent conversion to a philosophy of less reactive and more personal writing, I applaud you. I've enjoyed the essays. They have been inspired pieces of work, for the most part. Keep it up.

Posted by: Jeremiah at May 24, 2005 9:19 PM