The first person I knew who had a Web site of his own was a fellow Washington journalist. This was when many journalists were still just getting into e-mail, but the URL for this Web site quickly circulated around town and around the world. Why? Well, we were all impressed by the technological savvy. But we were absolutely astounded by the solipsism. What on earth had gotten into Joe (not his real name)? This was a modest, soft-spoken, and self-effacing fellow, yet his Web site portrayed him as an egotistical monster. Or so it seemed at the time. All of the elements that struck us as obnoxious maybe eight years ago no longer seem that way. In fact, they are now virtually required for any writer's Web site. The Web address, of course, was his name: JoeJournalist.com. It's hard to recapture why that even seemed pretentious. But it did. Then there was his deadpan list of books he'd written and awards he'd won. And quotes from other journalists about how wonderful he is.
So who's the mystery journalist?
Speculation, naturally, has centered around Andrew Sullivan and Mickey Kaus. (Kaus denies that it's either of him, although his disavowal of Sullivan is more a case of getting a dig in at Andrew, which is pretty much Mickey's raison d' tre these days.) In any event, a well-connected tipster raises another possibility: "Kinsley's talking about Gladwell, I believe. When www.malcolmgladwell.com first appeared — 97? 98? — it caused much twitter in such circles. Gladwell was modest and self-effacing at the time, and may well still be — I never see him." (Note to tipster: You can't miss him; it's the hair. Ba dump bump.) Sounds good to us, except that Kinsley mentions the "deadpan list of books he'd written"; did Gladwell write anything before Blink? Could Kinsley be changing a few of the details around? Is this maybe the least interesting blind item guessing game ever? Answers or further candidates here.