The Awl bids farewell

Alex Balk: The Awl, 2009-2018.

The surprise shouldn’t be that The Awl didn’t last, it should be that it lasted as long as it did. And now it’s dead. The archives will remain up, but I hope they degrade in the way everything on the Internet does and that eventually they sink into the vast sea of undiscoverable content so that a decade from now one of you can look at a young person who is ignoring you while she stares at her phone and say, “You can’t find it anymore, but the most amazing thing on the Internet was The Awl. It’s impossible to believe something that incredible existed.” And since everything will have disappeared no one will be able to dispute it. If we wait around long enough our legacy will be legend. We’ll secretly know the truth, but it won’t make any difference then, will it?

Thank you, in advance, for lying about how amazing we were. And thank you, right now, for your attention. You will never know how much it meant.

Now that we all know that the internet dissolves everything, not just bad things, perhaps it never deserved The Awl in the first place. The Awl implies a web that was never really lost because it never existed or could exist, a (wonderfully) conservative vision of the medium's potential to not be what it is. Yet for nearly ten years they proved that things implicit, things never really lost, things hoped for, the unrepressed sublime, can still be. Read the rest

Why The NYT buying The Wirecutter is such a big deal

Yesterday, we learned The Wirecutter (with sister site The Sweethome) was headed to New York City. It's the sort of good ending that's also a good beginning: they succeeded in their mission and have bright prospects for further growth. But Matt Haughey points out how much of the story everyone's missing: the entire site is a mere 1,000 posts.

I don’t think anyone gives Brian the credit he deserves

1. He single-handedly built his own empire without having to cater to advertisers or investors. 2. He built a site that made revenue in a way that was previously uncharted. 3. He built it according to his own rules, without needing to pressure writers and editors to publish as often as possible. 4. He built a brand and a site that launched many copycats but no one ever matched it. 5. His sites work thanks to trust built up between readers and writers, and it works because editors help maintain integrity since the day it launched. 6. He did it all in a place far, far from the tech hubs of SF and NYC, in Honolulu. Where he gets to surf almost daily.

Not great taste in sub-cubic foot microwave ovens tho. Read the rest

All the startups Yahoo bought in the last few years, and what happened to them

After 20 years at the heart of the web, Yahoo is all but done, with a sale expected soon and talent fleeing as fast as it can. CEO Marissa Mayer's plan to turn things around involve buying 50 startups. What happened to them? Read the rest

Saying "never read the comments" turns a blind eye to abuse

Anil Dash writes that a cynical blogger in-joke—"never read the comments"—has become a "bad habit," an excuse for giving free rein to abusive conduct.

honestly, I get it — making a joke out of the situation may be the only way of dealing with that horrible feeling of dread that comes from knowing an institution values one’s words enough to profit from them, but not enough to protect the person writing those words…

Yet I think our reflexive use of these grim jokes have gotten accepted into the culture of people who build, manage, and publish on large social apps and media sites. The fact that we joke about it documents an acceptance of a culture of abuse online. It helps normalize online harassment campaigns and treat the empowerment of abusers as inevitable, rather than solvable.

And worse, we denigrate a form that used to be, and sometimes still is, a powerful way of making meaningful connections with the world. I met most of my closest friends in the comments on my blog, or by commenting on theirs.

Read the rest