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Making Sense of a Big Stack of Editors’ Blog Posts

 Member Newsletter
June 13, 2024 2:30 p.m.

I want to thank all of you who wrote in in response to yesterday’s post asking for your favorite Editors’ Blog posts. Please keep them coming. At one level it’s just very gratifying and affirming to hear which ones you’ve especially enjoyed, which ones had some particular meaning for you. But this wasn’t just an ego trip. Or, it mostly wasn’t that. I’ve been considering putting together a collection of pieces from the last 24 years. I’m not sure whether that would include the “best” or most popular, or just ones that built up a series of themes or arguments over time. My thought was too pull them together, clean them up and assemble them into bundles focused on key themes and questions that have animated the Editors’ Blog over the years. And then on top of this, add a short essay for each trying to make sense of how the question or problem evolved over time, how the opinions stack up in retrospect, what we can say now about something that happened in … say 2010, the importance of which simply wasn’t clear at the time.

Again, this is a very general idea. But I just wanted to give you a sense of what spurred me to ask the question.

The first and most important reason I asked was the straightforward one: I wanted to get an initial sense of which posts had resonated most with readers. I’m still going through your emails. And this is giving me a very good and helpful sense of that.

The second is a bit more complicated. I tend to have a very good memory. But when I did the exercise myself I found that I could only think of a handful of posts. At one level maybe this isn’t surprising. I’ve written somewhere between 40,000 and 50,000 Editors’ Blog posts. So there are quite a few to remember. But the issue is a little more particular than that. If you mention one I’ll almost certainly remember not only the post but the specific argument I made and usually the context that spurred me to write it. So I’ll remember it inside and out. But I have a hard time coming up with them on my own. As I thought about this I realized that in my mind they’re all preserved as something like streams of consciousness, ongoing conversations I was having with myself and with you over time, often over many years. So I need this assist to locate specific posts. It’s some weird quirk of my brain. But in one way or another it’s tied to the way I’ve approached the writing — an ongoing stream of conversation, often in dialog with readers — where the beginning and end of a specific post doesn’t play that big a role, at least not in my memory.

This is one thing that interested me about doing this: the opportunity to look at some of these topics and questions, how they evolved over time, and to discuss them in a general way, as opposed to more narrowly and contingently in the context of the news of the day. It is an inherently ephemeral medium. So an effort to pull from that big stack of ephemera some discussions that are worth revisiting, remembering or expanding on outside of the immediate pressures of the news day.

Anyway, thank you for sharing your favorites or the ones that stick with you, and, if you haven’t had a chance to do so yet, I’d be in your debt if you would.

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