Balloon Juice at 20

John Cole's blog is older than dirt.

I don’t spend nearly as much time as I once did reading other blogs, so missed the news that John Cole’s Balloon Juice had its 20th anniversary a week ago, which it celebrated with a weeklong series of posts and remembrances.

My initial thought upon seeing the news was that can’t possibly be right! How in the hell can any blog be that old? But, alas, OTB turns 19 at the end of this month. Time marches on. Which led to my second thought–which was apparently Tim F‘s first, “Jesus Christ I’m old.” (I have that thought a lot. I feel a lot better at 56 than I would have guessed 20 years ago but I can do math.)

As John observes,

[I]t’s been, to borrow an overused phrase, a long strange trip. And twenty years is a long long time in the digital world. We’re like the blog equivalent of Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell’s Hollywood marriage. We’re a 21 year old dog and a 32 year old cat.

WaterGirl reports that John and the gang have generated some 70,000 blog posts and 6.5 million comments. That’s a lot, even compared to OTB.

Blogging hit its peak somewhere in the middle of the decade of the oughts, call it 2005-6, and has been in steady decline as an enterprise since. (Dan Drezner details some of the reasons in a conversation with Dan Nexon and Robert Farley as part of the Oral History of the Blogosphere series at the Lawyers, Guns, and Money podcast.) That they’ve managed to keep it going at such a rate is impressive.

Balloon Juice has been particularly interesting in that it went from a harder-right-than-me solo blog to a fairly hard-left group blog in fairly short order. John was more Republican than me in the early days but got more disgusted with them much faster. His stable of contributors has evolved over the years but it’s definitely more eclectic than ours in terms of breadth of opinions.

They have collected some of their favorite posts, the first posts of all the authors, and some other goodies in commemoration of the occasion. Congratulations to them for keeping the flag flying for so long.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Anne Laurie pointed out that she will soon put up her 19,000 post. I commented that when she dies she is sure to go to heaven as she has already endured the toils of hell.

  2. James Joyner says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: That’s remarkable. I’ve logged just over 27,000. The late, lamented Doug Mataconis, who was easily the most prolific poster in recent years, logged 16,483. Nobody else is even close to five digits here.

  3. charon says:

    I first stumbled across BJ back when Tim F. was the only other front pager. I didn’t and don’t usually pay any heed to right-leaning blogs, but I made an exception for BJ because Cole seemed unusually logical and sensible for a conservative.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner: You are going to heaven too and you’ll find Doug there with a nice single malt.

  5. I recently listened to both episodes of LGM’s oral history of blogging and would recommend them to anyone interested. They did make me think quite a bit about the crazy days of the blogosphere.

  6. Kari Q says:


    Same here. It’s also how I found OTB and a couple other writers who went through the same process of disenchantment with their former party. Sadly, I can’t find any reasonable Republicans to follow any more.

    I look forward to OTB’s 20th.

  7. Blue Galangal says:

    I *think* I might have found OTB before I found BJ, and possibly I found BJ through a comment here. I think I found OTB, in turn, when the original 538 blog sold out/went paywall, and its very active commentariat tried hard to find homes elsewhere without much success. To misquote someone, what a long strange trip the blogosphere has been. *raises glass [Islay single malt] to BJ and OTB*

  8. Neil Hudelson says:

    Blogging hit its peak somewhere in the middle of the last decade, call it 2005-6

    *Ahem* That’s in the middle of *two* decades ago, James.

    In case anyone hadn’t quite felt old on this thread.

  9. JohnSF says:

    @Neil Hudelson:
    “You are old, Father William,” the young man said,
    “And your hair has become very white;
    And yet you incessantly stand on your head—
    Do you think, at your age, it is right?”