03 February 2015

See You Around, Old Friends

There's been a string of emotionally tough weeks. Perhaps you can understand what it feels like to have products you've worked on for nearly 7 years kicked to the curb. The feeling can't be far from what a shipbuilder feels seeing a vessel they spent months and years hammering rivets and welding sink or be destroyed.

"I built that and now it's gone."

Or how a construction worker must feel seeing a building they spent months or years hammering nails, framing, or pouring concrete demolished to rumble in seconds.


"I built that and now it's gone."

However, the pain of loss is different for the crew of that ship or the staff of that building. They spent hours, months, and years writing new chapters. They used those creations for what they were intended and perhaps dreamed even further. Likewise, the Editors and Writers of Joystiq, Massively, WoW Insider, and TUAW spilled their blood, sweat, and tears into their publications. They wrote new chapters and used those creations for what they were intended and beyond. While I may be feeling the loss of sites I helped build soon being no more, the talented Editors and Writers of these sites have a deeper loss. They're jobs will end before the channels they love go dark.

Some of these Editors and Writers are great colleagues. Others I think of as friends. Admittedly, there are many I've never exchanged a single email. But there are several that I've met, hung out, and spoke about life and geeky things. These are good, talented folks.

Reading over the outpouring of love for these sites and their staffs on Twitter and other channels has been inspiring and heart-wrenching. These sites and their staff have been a part of many readers' lives for a long time. The thought of losing that daily routine may resemble losing a friend or family member.

Ultimately, you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.

I had no idea in June 2004 when I arrived in DC to work at WUSA9 that Joystiq had just launched. Four years later, June 2008, I was supporting that site with a new role at AOL. Also, in December of 2004, TUAW launched. WoW Insider launched the following year. Massively launched a year before I arrived at AOL. The point? These sites have always been  while I've been at AOL. A future without them seems a bit darker.

I won't speak ill of AOL or those that made this decision. Businesses often make decisions employees and the public disagree on or don't understand. Many have scoffed that AOL closing these sites is their trying to stay relevant. I think AOL has been relevant for years and becoming more so. Like any good company, they have to grow, rebuild, and make mistakes. It's all part of the journey. It's what makes a company...it's what makes us human. What's hard to swallow is that these decisions impact coworkers...talented, good people...friends. And, yeah, it sucks when something you've worked on for years and wanted to make better is suddenly taken off your plate. Kinda makes all the proverbial knuckles bloodied, sleep lost, and hours spent in meetings and dreaming seem like a waste. But through all of that, friendships were forged and memories made. That's never a waste.

I know that each of these wonderful Editors and Writers will bounce back. They'll move onto new adventures and challenges. For some, these closings had to happen for their next adventure to come about. Ultimately, that's rather exciting.

Today, I tip my hat to you all. I wish you much happiness and success. Thank you, it's been a pleasure and a honor serving you over the years.