Dear Readers and Co-bloggers,
This is the farewell post I had contemplated writing several times in the past year but did not get around to doing. After noting the gradual decrease in readership and much slower rates of posting - mine and of others - I feel that the time has come to put an end to new writing on Accidental Blogger.
Blogging over the past many years has been a most enjoyable activity, both from the angle of creativity and social interactions that were interesting, thoughtful and fun. We made many friends and hopefully, no enemies. I discovered much about others, the world and my own self that I did not know before. The format provided a perfect spot for the give and take of ideas and opinions with friends as well as strangers, many of whom subsequently became friends.
Accidental Blogger made its solo debut in October 2005 as a vehicle for recording my musings, mainly political commentary. On the way, it gathered a few more passengers. Joe, Anna, Sujatha and Dean were among the early authors who joined A.B. to add their voices to mine. Andrew showed up soon after. Narayan and Prasad came on board midway during the blog's life. Norman, Jesse, Cyrus, Omar and John Ballard are among the more recent additions to the roster of authors. I am extremely grateful to my co-bloggers for their contributions and have enjoyed getting to know them. I also wish to acknowledge my sister-in-law Sukrita Paul Kumar and my good friends Elatia Harris and Nancy Hudson for writing an occasional piece here, thus making them honorary A.B. bloggers. Among the people mentioned, I have had the pleasure of meeting Sujatha, Anna, Elatia and Cyrus in real life. Perhaps in the future I will bump into the rest also somewhere outside the virtual salon, on terra firma, and have a real cup of tea (or beer) with them.
Accidental Blogger owes its minor success in the blogosphere to a very large extent to the kindness of other bloggers who were already there and gave us a helping hand in the form of links and by featuring the site on their blogroll. Editors of vastly more popular blogs (Brian Leiter, Abbas Raza, Amardeep Singh, Bora Zivkovic, Razib Khan, Abhi Tripathi among others) introduced A.B. to their readers via links to our articles and by adding it to the list of recommended blogs. Without those early assists, it is unlikely that I could have succeeded in spreading the word about A.B. on my own. Due mainly to the links from these widely read blogs, we were also occasionally pleasantly surprised to see our posts referred to on bigger, more mainstream sites such as Slate, Salon and Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish which, for a few thrilling days brought in far more traffic than we were accustomed to.
Speaking of reading and writing on blogs, it has become increasingly clear to me in the last couple of years that many smaller, general interest blogs like A.B. are fading in popularity. (Professional and academic blogs probably haven't been affected) Writers, as well as readers are gradually gravitating towards other forms of social media. The brief and somewhat more casual mode of interactions at sites like Facebook and Twitter seems to have the attraction of instant communication that blogs don't generally afford. On the other hand, it is a bit ironic that mainstream publications, which initially expressed disdain for the proliferation of blogs started by amateur writers and non-journalists, now all have their own blogs. In any case, I don't know enough about the contents of the internet to comment authoritatively on the fate of individual blogs. But I do know that with a few exceptions, I don't have the same enthusiasm I once felt for writing or for reading many of the blogs that I used to visit regularly in the past. Most of the other A.B. writers (not you, John!) too have been absent for long periods, some longer than others. Some time ago, I had consulted with them about the prospect of keeping A.B. going. I got a mixed response. While some did not wish to see the blog die, others left it to me to make the decision of continuing or shutting it down. It has been a few months since then and I haven't seen much change in the health of the blog. Writing is infrequent and the readership has fallen precipitously in the last year or so. I am now convinced that rather than let A.B. languish, it is time to bring about a graceful end to its tenure. I will not delete the blog - there are many years' worth of interesting interactions recorded here. It will remain as an inactive archival site for the foreseeable future.
Many thanks to all the readers who visited here over the years and encouraged us, sometimes privately, to write, think, inform and debate. Without their participation all of this would have been a lonely enterprise. After all, like many other public activities blogging too is a performative exercise. I hope to stay in touch with my co-bloggers via e-mail and Facebook. Those readers who have occasionally contacted me, please feel free to do so in the future if you wish. My contact information is available here.
The launch of Accidental Blogger was indeed accidental - an impulsive move that turned out to be a wonderful experience. The decision to end it however, is a deliberate and considered step. Among other things, blogging began for me as an exciting journey to a mostly unknown place. I had a vague idea of what I hoped to achieve but none whatsoever of what lay en route. The time, the place and the emerging technology of web based communications offered a ticket to ride and I set out with much anticipation and very little preparation. I always enjoyed writing and sharing my thoughts with anyone who would care to listen. Blogging was the perfect vehicle to pursue that interest. Now, after 7+ years, the trip is near the inevitable end. Again, the changes in time, place and technology, as also the diminished energy for the process of putting one's thoughts in order for a meaningful exchange with others, have played a role in the decision to apply the brakes, get off and move on.
Thanks again and best wishes for the upcoming Holiday Season.
P.S. I am attaching a portrait of my much younger self, painted years ago that shows me sitting with a cup of tea - alone. It is perhaps apt to post it here because the Table Talk (beverages implied) referred to in the title of the blog is now about to cease. Thanks everyone for a wonderful party!