Michael Rand started RandBall with hopes that he could convince the world to love jumpsuits as much as he does. So far, he's only succeeded in using the word "redacted" a lot. He welcomes suggestions, news tips, links of pure genius, and pictures of pets in Halloween costumes here, though he already knows he will regret that last part.
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We are all RandBall now.
For the first six years, these birthday posts have focused on the difference between RandBall (the blog) and traditional media; when the blog started seven years ago, it was a breath of fresh air that cut through the stale cloud of 2006's newspaper industry.
Seven years on, RandBall is everywhere. The blog is just one small part of RandBall Industries; it stands alongside Page 2, the online videos, and an entire community of Twitterers and blogs and podcasts that can be traced, at least indirectly, to the group of goofballs that used to gather in the comments section of RandBall posts.
It's almost foolish to continue to celebrate these birthdays; we might as well celebrate the anniversary of all of the people who signed up for Twitter, or of the first of the long-since-discontinued Redactulars, or any number of other milestones along the way. Don't get me wrong, RandBall is great, as a blog -- but it's grown beyond these virtual blog walls. What started as something different than traditional media has itself become traditional media. We are all RandBall now.
I suppose the credit you can give to Rand is that he never, ever tried to wrestle this thing to the ground and control it. He let go and trusted us all to not ruin everything, and it - I would like to think - has paid off. As for me, on this auspicious yearly occasion, I offer my thanks to Rand for kicking all of this off. He didn't know where it was going, either, but it's spawned friendships beyond counting and fun beyond measure, and what else can I ask for?
So wish RandBall a happy birthday! Use the comments, or Twitter, or your blog, or your podcast, because the way this thing is going, those all make perfect sense.
Every year in mid-December, we celebrate the birth of RandBall, our favorite blog on the internet, and this year the blog turns six. Think about that: if this blog were human, it'd be a kindergartner now -- presumably one that pestered all the girls in class and wouldn't lie still at nap time. (And every so often, its drunk uncle Clarence would show up at school, and security would have to be called.)
It is, I think, a testimony to the changes in both blogs and newspapers over the past six years that RandBall now feels like a natural extension of Page 2 of the paper. Six years ago, it was strange to see a constantly-updated column on startribune.com - now, the online portion of the paper gets at least as much attention as the print version. Six years ago, it would have been faintly ridiculous to see comments from readers in the newspaper anywhere but on the letters page; now, you can see them every day, standing at the edges of Page C2. In a way, one page of the sports section is now Dead Tree RandBall, and I for one couldn't be more pleased.
RandBall has given readers a voice, and a chance to interact with each other online, and a chance to make friends outside of the comments section, and for all three of these things I couldn't be more grateful. Thank you and congratulations, Rand - and happy birthday, RandBall. It's been a great six years, and here's hoping for 60 more.
Proprietor note: Monday (Where did we put our teeth?) edition: Wha' Happened?