I’ve been working at The New Stack for five weeks now, and am enjoying it more than any other job I’ve had since ReadWriteWeb. A big part of that is due to the team of people I’m working with, who have been generous with their time and knowledge, and welcoming.
But I’m also feeling energized because my new job has helped me re-connect with the people I started out writing for – and networking with – back in the early 2000s, when I began blogging. Developers, IT managers, entrepreneurs, people who like exploring and experimenting with new technologies. These are my core audience, to put it in crass media terms. More importantly, these are people I learn from and hopefully can contribute my own learnings back to. And, as was the case with blogging back in the early days, I also hope to get to know (or reconnect with) many of these people individually over time.
I should also mention, before I was a pro blogger I was a Web Manager at a couple of New Zealand companies. Before that an “Information Developer” (a.k.a. technical writer). I became a blogger to extend my thinking on internet tech, to seek out new innovations and explore the potential of ‘the read/write web’ (a term I ultimately attribute to Tim Berners-Lee).
Fast forward to when I left ReadWriteWeb in October 2012, after selling the company at the end of 2011. At the time I was burnt out and needed to do some other things I’d always wanted to do. Writing books was at the top of that list. Over 2013-14, I wrote and promoted my nonfiction book about health tech (Trackers), and then over 2015-16 I did the same with a science fiction novel (Presence). I learned a lot writing those two books, and met some great people too.
But I had drifted away from the developer and IT ecosystem, which were the very people who had supported RWW in its early days. It was a natural shift though, because the journey of RWW followed the same trajectory of the mainstreaming of ‘Web 2.0’. In other words, as social software went mainstream (with the likes of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google Apps) so RWW’s audience and reach grew too. My own personal interests shifted accordingly: from tech things like RSS and web design, to the apps that mainstream people were increasingly using (like health tech apps, such as Fitbit and 23andMe).
By 2017, I was missing the world of online media. I still wanted to write books, but I was feeling isolated by that work. Also, frankly, I wasn’t earning any income from books. From 2017-2019, I launched a series of blog projects – on Open Web (with ex-RWWer Emre Sokullu), blockchain, creators ecosystem, and finally the Cybercultural newsletter on Substack last year. I was doing other, paying, work too. But none of these new blogs or other work took me back to the core RWW fans: developers, IT people, entrepreneurs.
Side note: I had hoped the Open Web and blockchain projects would re-connect me to core tech, but both were unsatisfactory in their own ways…Indie Web turned out to be too small and insular a community, and I became disillusioned with blockchain due to its focus on market speculation.
So here I am in 2020, back in the world of geeky web technology – or is it ‘cloud technology’ now? Regardless, it’s developers and IT operators doing innovative and exciting work on the frontier of internet technology. Which is exactly where I want to be right now. You can follow my writing on these topics on The New Stack.
Meanwhile, I’ll write more blog posts here on richardm106.sg-host.com in the coming weeks. I did a Twitter thread today about this…the upshot, it feels like time to re-connect to my personal blogging roots too.