Sometime last night, my SiteMeter recorded my millionth visitor.
It's been nearly four years now since I started this blog (March 2004), so in fact that isn't all that impressive (blogs with larger numbers of readers might record the same number in much less time). But it is still a bit of a landmark, and maybe an opportunity for a little self-reflection.
Writing this blog has had a rather large impact on my life, mostly in positive ways. It's certainly been an asset professionally -- I meet quite a number of people at conferences who say, "oh, you're the Amardeep Singh whose blog I randomly came across when I googled [X subject]." Especially amongst people who are in my sub-field, the blog has become a kind of calling card (mostly because of Google, I find; the number of regular readers remains somewhat limited). It isn't magic, of course -- nowhere near as good as publishing, say, a really influential essay or a widely read academic book -- but it is sometimes nice to find that people know who you are.
There's also been the occasional media moment, though in the end getting quoted by a newspaper or two doesn't really make that much difference one way or the other (newspaper articles are quickly forgotten).
Perhaps most importantly, some of my longer blog posts have been the starting points for serious scholarly projects (including a couple of things I'm working on right now). Blogging has been a really effective testing ground for ideas, and a place to (publicly) jot down notes on an author or idea that could be developed into something more substantial later. It's also been good way to stave off intellectual stagnation: since I started doing this kind of writing, my sense of what might be worth writing about in a serious way has expanded quite a bit -- I've become much less "specialized," and much more prone to humor my broad, wandering curiosity. (I have always been more the kind of person who likes to know something about a large number of subjects than the other way around, which is probably why I've found blogging such a congenial medium.)
I've made a lot of friends through blogging, sometimes with people I've ended up getting to know in person, and sometimes with people who, because they're far away, I haven't yet met face to face. (One day I'd like to do a grand tour, and go and meet in person all the people I've corresponded with over the years via blogging... it would be quite a trip!)
I do sometimes regret that the blog isn't quite as dynamic or personal as it was during the first two years I was writing. For one thing, I simply have less time to blog than I used to. Having a baby means that your evenings and weekends are mostly computer-free, meaning that you really have to get everything (including "real" work and blog writing) done before 6pm on Friday afternoon. Another big culprit for that shift has admittedly been my participation in Sepia Mutiny, which has very active comment boards that tend to suck up attention.
That said, I'm fairly satisfied with the general direction I've followed with this blog, and not worried if the readership is no longer expanding by leaps and bounds. I'm now pretty comfortable doing what I'm doing here, and not particularly pressed to rustle up new readers. I've also said a lot of what I have to say on some glaring issues (like, say, communalism in India) and, after having debated back and forth with people on hot-button topics over months and years, I'm not in a big rush to re-open certain old debates out of the blue, unless something controversial occurs. (When it does, be assured that I will be there, if I have something to say about it...)
Thanks to everyone who has read, commented, or sent me feedback over the years.
I hope you stay with me through 2008, too; I'm not going anywhere.