My online writing goes back to Usenet, early bulletin-boards and the pay service GEnie, but my public identity as an online writer really began a few years after “weblogs” began to appear on the early World Wide Web.
I began Easily Distracted in 2002 as a “hand-rolled” simple-HTML blog, following the inspiration of my student Justin Hall. In 2005, Swarthmore College‘s always-helpful and accommodating Information Technology Service’s office helped me move the blog to a college-supported WordPress installation, which allowed me to have comments as well as to interact more effectively with the emerging infrastructure of social media.
Between 2005 and 2021, I wrote over 1,000 posts here, though my rate of publication dropped off significantly over the last five years. There are a lot of reasons for that: I began to find the intensity and rapidity of social media disheartening, I often felt that by the time I had a ‘take’ on something it had been done to death already, and to some extent the tight commitment I had made in the development of this blog to a set of themes and a fixed tone had come to feel confining.
More importantly, I had begun to feel also that the fun of distractedness for me had curdled somewhat into something more dysfunctional. I needed to create more structure for myself in my public and long-form writing as well as to open up the range of my interests and commitments.
I have to decided to close Easily Distracted as an ongoing blog, though it will remain available as an archive (on a regularly updated WordPress installation). My online writing will now be available on Substack, under the title Eight by Seven.
Early in the history of this blog, a good friend who is a very successful author gently chided me about the fact that bloggers who were writing as much as I was then writing were killing his profession. I didn’t really see the issue then, but I do see it now (unfortunately after some of what concerned him has come to pass). I’ve had other invitations to come inside established publications and blog under their banner, but this has never really appealed to me. I don’t really want to feel tied to the editorial apparatus of an existing publication. Substack, on the other hand, feels like an opportunity to keep doing what I want to do, while also putting some value on it.
I recognize many long-term Easily Distracted readers may balk at a subscription cost (though I’ve set it at the lowest price Substack allows), and there will be some public entries over time. (All of them will be for the next two weeks, in fact). If you’ve appreciated my writing here over time, I encourage you to subscribe, if only to get a look at what I’m doing now.