Happy 20th birthday Crooked Timber!

by Chris Bertram on July 7, 2023

Crooked Timber is twenty years old today, which is an awfully long time for a website, never mind a blog, never mind one that is strictly non-commercial and run on volunteer labour. So here’s to us, and here’s to all those who have been on board at various times during our journey. To quote the Grateful Dead: what a long, strange trip it’s been.

We started the blog shortly after the Iraq war started and in a world that was still shaped by the immediate aftermath of 9/11. A bunch of people who had blogs of their own came together to form our collective after a period of email back-and-forth. It might have been quite a different blog: Norman Geras a strong supporter of the war, had been involved in the emailing, but it became clear that we couldn’t have both him and Dan Davies, so we settled for Dan, and what a good choice that was. Matt Yglesias was invited, but never replied, and has gone on to a rather successful online career.

The initial crew was Chris Bertram, Harry Brighouse, Daniel Davies, Henry Farrell, Maria Farrell, Kieran Healy, Jon Mandle and Brian Weatherson. Four out of nine survivors isn’t bad, but I miss the contributions of those who have moved on, who wrote some of the great posts of the early years. Within a few months we had added Ted Barlow, Eszter Hargittai, John Holbo, John Quiggin, Tom Runnacles, Micah Schwartzman and Belle Waring, and then Ingrid Robeyns and Scott McLemee joined us a couple of years later, followed soon after by Michael Bérubé. By 2008, the Guardian was listing us in its top 50 most powerful blogs, but I think we missed the moment to cash in and become tech zillionaires. Niamh Hardiman became a member around 2011, followed later by Tedra Osell, Eric Rauchway and Corey Robin, then Rich Yeselson. In 2018 we were joined by Serene Khader, Miriam Ronzoni, Gina Schouten and Astra Taylor and then this past year by Chris Armstrong, Elizabeth Anderson, Eric Schliesser, Kevin Munger, Macarena Marey, Paul Segal and Speranta Dumitru. Throughout we tried to keep a mix of people of different experiences, backgrounds, genders and locations, though I’m sure we could have done better. One person, who sadly has left us, deserves special thanks: Kieran Healy was not only an intellectual force behind Crooked Timber, but also, long after he ceased posting, kept us on the road with his technical expertise. The site would have long since fallen over without him.

[click to continue…]