Twenty Years of Sausage Factory (and Wetmachine) — So Long and Thanks For All the Fish?

I suppose it says something that I am rushing to get something written before the end of the year to mark the 20th Anniversary of Tales of the Sausage Factory (my first blog post was December 10, 2003). At the high point, from 2006-09 I was cranking out over 100 blogs a year. The last several years It’s dropped down to about 6.


Why? Well, things have changed a lot since 2003. The world has become less bloggy. Like a lot of folks, I shifted a bunch to social media — although I’ve dropped out of that a lot since Elon Musk ruined Twitter. I’ve blogged and written articles in other places. But mostly, life happened. Writing this blog takes a fair amount of time and effort. I used to be able to crank stuff out (especially as I didn’t bother to worry too much about spelling) in the wee hours of the morning while everyone else at home was asleep. That’s not really possible anymore. Over the last several years, at any given time, I’ve had half a dozen drafts in various stages of completion — usually deleted after it became clear they weren’t relevant anymore or they were just going to take too much work to do right.


Because I really do want to do it right — which means a couple of things. My overarching goal for this blog is something I’ve described over the years as the “201” version of policy. (Well, my corner of the policy world.) There are (or at least were) blogs that tell you why you should care. And there are resources written for people who are well informed and want a deep dive. But there is a lot less out there for folks who already know they care (or think they should care) and want something in between a one-pager and a research paper. Especially with all the important links in one place. I used to say I had a rule of thumb that if I had to explain something 3 times I’d blog about it. And I’ve found it useful in terms of documenting things like what I’ve actually said about net neutrality all these years (including the importance of Title II as a source of regulatory authority and how that was even more important than just an anti-disrcimination rule).


I’m not giving up on trying to write for this blog at least a few times a year. And I’m proud of what I’ve managed to do here over the years. This blog has been cited in law review articles, by press, on Wikipedia, and lots of other places I only vaguely know about. But I rather doubt this will come close to what it used to be. And, if I can quote Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor right before regenerating into Pete Capaldi’s 12th: “We all change. When you think about it, w’re all different people all through our lives. And that’s OK, that’s good. You’ve got to keep moving. So long as you remember all the people, that you used to be.”


I don’t know where I’m going next. In some ways I’m staying where I’ve been for awhile. I’m still at Public Knowledge and, as I said, I will still try to write blogs here. But time goes on, and where it takes us who can say?


I owe this blog to John Sundman — and everyone should go support his Substack “Sundman Figures It Out.” You can read the story here from my blog post celebrating the 10th anniversary of this blog.


Stay tuned . . .

One Comment

  1. Thank you for all you’ve done here, Harold. Thank you for keeping the lights on during my long periods of neglect.

    Long ago I made a post here — perhaps one of my best ever Wetmachine posts — reporting on the FCC hearing on Net Neutrality at Harvard in February, 2008. In that post I mentioned running into a few people who said, when I mentioned Wetmachine, “Where Harold Feld writes!” This culminated with me finally getting to chat for a minute or two with FCC Chair Kevin Martin. I mentioned Wetmachine and he said, “Oh, Wetmachine! Harold Feld’s blog!”

    Of course I grumbled under my breath that hey, it’s actually *my* blog. What am I, chopped liver?

    But actually Kevin and everybody else who called Wetmachine your blog were correct. If you had not accepted my invitation to blog with me this little site would have closed up unceremoniously sometime around 2004 or 2005, I expect. Your posts long ago became the engine that powers Wetmachine. I am deeply grateful to you for that, and I am, as I hope you know, among your most ardent fans. I look forward to your future posts at whatever frequency they may appear.

    I’ll be writing my own reflections on 20+ years of Wetmachine soon. Thank you, as usual, for providing the impetus.

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