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I’ll spare you all the typical “end of an era” posts about the man and his blog. All I will add about Andrew Sullivan are some personal anecdotes about how 1) He was the first blogger I ever read regularly, 2) His politics sort-of resembled mine, swinging right briefly after 9/11 before returning left in the face of the horrors of the Cheney Administration, 3) He had a bad habit of making everything about himself, 4) He was an unusual first-generation blogger who had old-school journalism creds up the wazoo, although he was out of the game at the time he started up his blog, 5) Nowadays, it is impossible for a blogger who does NOT have both old-school journalism creds up the wazoo, and current writing employment for one of the established media outlets, to start up a blog that ever attracts readership.

This is mostly a story of the early internet, privatized and atomized as it was, versus the calcified one we have now where everybody reads content from only a (relatively) few corporate sources. It took some time, but the old media firms adapted by buying out the first-gen bloggers (Sullivan included) and otherwise ensuring only they had the best, most expert opinions around. Those media firms that failed to adapt, perished, to be replaced by newer start-ups that are nevertheless massive and well-funded.

As fellow first-gen blogger Kevin Drum notes, nowadays it is impossible for a common layperson like he used to be to create a prominent blog de novo, let alone find employment with a big media conglomerate. Even relatively new interests like Buzzfeed and Gawker recruit from the same pipeline as the ancient and wizened media firms like NBC News or Washington Post. On the conservative side of things, it’s basically the same thing: New blogs don’t really have a chance versus those already gobbled up by Townhall, National Review, and so forth. Theirs is an alternate universe, true, but in the end it still resembles the mainstream universe: only the big survive, and the weak die (or fade into irrelevance; same thing).

What commoners like you and me have instead is social media. Even our most inane ramblings about what we had for dinner last night can find an audience with people we know IRL; but there, it ends. We probably won’t be reaching anyone outside our own limited circle of friends, same as if we had no internet to begin with. Anything besides that is just a reblog of some far more important source than ourselves. Take Tumblr, for instance: just about everything coming across your dashboard is just a reblog, with the occasional boring all-text rant from the actual users about their personal lives. <cough> Uh, anyway… What this means is that our Tumblr and Twitter accounts, that make us feel like we can say anything we want, ensure that we wind up saying nothing. Because “reblogging” isn’t saying jack shit.

In any event. Have a happy retirement, Mr. Sullivan; I only wish it were possible for some independent writer somewhere to truly replace you.

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