A few years back I read a great article on Slate by Michael Kinsley, the online magazine’s founder and a true journalist emeritus. Writing about the early days of the Web, Kinsley relates the very first time that one of his colleagues in the D.C. political journalism world took the oh-so-audacious step of starting a personal website, even going so far as to register the domain JoeJournalist.com. Describing the response of colleagues and himself, Kinsley writes:
The first person I knew who had a Web site of his own was a fellow Washington journalist. This was when many journalists were still just getting into e-mail, but the URL for this Web site quickly circulated around town and around the world. Why? Well, we were all impressed by the technological savvy. But we were absolutely astounded by the solipsism. What on earth had gotten into Joe (not his real name)? This was a modest, soft-spoken, and self-effacing fellow, yet his Web site portrayed him as an egotistical monster.
Of course, given the speed at which the Internet moves, the notion of being shocked (shocked!) at the egotism of it all seemed pretty quaint when Kinsley wrote this article in 2006. In fact, he adds that “All of the elements that struck us as obnoxious maybe eight years ago no longer seem that way.” It seems even more quaint now, in an era when people regularly “lifecast” the smallest details of their lives on Twitter, share their location on Foursquare and—this has been going on for a while, of course—accidentally sharing those pictures from last weekend’s party on Facebook.
So all of that to say: I’m starting a personal website and blog, and you’re reading it. Yes, it’s de rigueur these days to have your spot online, so nothing to see here, ma’am, time to move along. But despite the normality of it all, Kinsley still has a point. Something can be normal and mildly solipsistic at once, can it not? To adopt (with moderate changes) a saying from Tanta of Calculated Risk, we’re all narcissistic now.
So here I am, blogging. I plan on using this space for an ongoing discussion for my thoughts on media, technology and the ins and outs of my hometown of Seattle. Along the way, I’m sure I’ll dive into other topics that intrigue me (the “other oddities” noted in this blog’s title), ranging from what I cooked last weekend and my favorite hikes in the North Cascades to thoughts on the housing bubble. For those interested, you can read more about me in the About Me section or check out my profile at LinkedIn.
And now for the standard disclosure, straight from our friends on the Sesnak.com Legal Team. As the “About” section indicates, by day I work as a communications professional at Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, where I support public relations for Microsoft Advertising. The views on this blog are wholly my own and do not represent my employer or client. To make it easier on myself, I’ll make a sincere effort to stay away from posting or commenting on any matters directly impacting my client or its competition, though I will write from time to time about issues affecting the industries I work in, both public relations at large and online advertising and search, in particular.
As for a few concluding thoughts. The Kinsley article, which I read again this afternoon for the first time in years, walks through a few examples of online solipsism that were in vogue in 2006 when the article was written. There’s MySpace, a site called WhatsDougDoing.com (which is currently under construction after years of showing what Doug was doing) and a site—which Kinsley calls “the ultimate in solipsism”—called Twitter. You may have heard of it.
Here’s to the beginning of this blog, and the latest online fashions that by 2014 will have been offered billions of dollars by Google, only to turn it down.