Needless to say, Observing Japan has grown in ways that I could hardly have foreseen three years ago when I returned to Japan to work for now-Lower House Member Asao Keiichiro — indeed, it has grown in ways that I could hardly have envisioned a year ago. After this past summer, I suppose that it’s probably safe to say that I’ve made the transition from blogger to pundit (for lack of a better term). It was a busy summer, as the list of media appearances in the sidebar indicates. In August the blog had a record number of visitors and page views, a record that was easily broken when the blog reached more than 27,000 visitors and more than 36,000 page views. During the same period the number of subscribers rose from the mid-700s to more than 1,200 today.
I still cannot quite believe all that’s happened to me since I began writing this blog. Perhaps I should not be so surprised, not in an age in which Nate Silver can use a blog as a platform to share his expertise and become a media superstar. (I’m comparing myself to Silver in a very broad sense: needless to say Time will never name me one of the world’s 100 most influential people.) We all have to get accustomed to a new process by which society identifies “experts” — in place of a prolonged process of accreditation, there is the constant churning of the Internet, which has no shortage of nonsense but also provides a means for consumers of information to find quality sources of analysis and then quickly share them with others.
I hope that I have been such a source for all of you reading this blog. I’d like to think that my analysis has improved over the past three years, in large part because of writing this blog, by which I have developed my own conceptual framework for thinking about Japanese politics, a framework that will undoubtedly continue to serve me well in the future. Thank you for bearing with me as I’ve taught myself about the subject. I should also thank my teachers, those from whom I have learned directly and indirectly – and my fellow bloggers, most notably Michael Cucek and Jun Okumura, who from very early on have been excellent partners in an ongoing discussion about Japanese politics. (Incidentally a recent post by Tyler Cowen captures the power of blogging as a learning tool precisely.)
As I move into the fourth year of blogging, there will likely be some changes around here. Inevitably I will be writing less here, in part because I have more opportunities to write elsewhere, in (large) part because I need to devote more time to being a doctoral student, and in part because after this extraordinary summer, I am experiencing a mild case of blogger burnout. While I don’t write nearly as much as he does (and have only been blogging for three years), the sentiments expressed by Andrew Sullivan in this post resonate with me. I was particularly pleased to return to MIT for the fall semester after my hectic summer precisely so I could start looking at the forest again.
In any case, thank you all again for reading, for commenting, for emailing, and for telling me when I’m completely off target.