|Filed under Musings;|
My New Year's resolution?
After six years as an editor at Computerworld magazine, I've given my notice. It's time to try something new.
Although I'm looking forward to new opportunities, I'm also reflective of all I've accomplished here since my first day on February 5, 2007. I was not hired as a features writer yet nonetheless managed to produce more than three dozen stories. Many of my articles were influenced by my experiences in the Apple II community, such as "CompuServe, Prodigy et al.: What Web 2.0 can learn from Online 1.0" (I was the APPUSER Forum's Member of the Month [MOTM] — October 1992, I think) and "Ben Heckendorn takes a mad-scientist approach to game console design" (which also became Juiced.GS's December 2008 cover story). Even more articles were directly about the Apple II itself, including "Sold on eBay: New-in-box Apple II, never opened" (Juiced.GS's March 2008's cover story), interviews with Apple II users who are experts in their field, and coverage of KansasFest every year from 2007 through 2012.
Computerworld also put me in touch with several folks who became KansasFest keynote speakers: when I liveblogged from KansasFest 2007, Lane Roathe left a comment to the effect of, "That event is still going on??" Using my administrative rights, I pulled the contact info from his comment and got in touch. A year later, he was our keynote speaker — an attendance he repeated in 2012, putting him back in touch with his id Software co-founder, John Romero.
The effect of these connections is long-lasting, and for as long as Computerworld maintains a persistent online archive, those stories will remain — and possibly grow, as the invitation to freelance has been extended. So though I'm not concerned about the state of this body of work, I am nonetheless saddened as I clean out my cubicle to realize the Apple II's presence is not long for this office.
My cubicle has sported an Apple IIGS since December 2008, when I came into the office over Christmas break to set it up for the first time in 11 years. Seven months later, Computerworld moved to a new office building, and the IIGS came with me. It then started making annual appearances in various media. It first showed up in this 2010 photo gallery:
It then served as a backdrop to this YouTube video commemorating Steve Jobs:
Finally, it showed up on the summer 2012 cover of Juiced.GS:
My Apple II hasn't seen a ton of use in its days at Computerworld, but the tasks it performed were essential. With ADTPro, it saved my brother's college papers, my friend's childhood memories, and the source code of PublishIt! It was the occasional lunchtime diversion as I would boot up Lode Runner, Oregon Trail, or Microzine. And it was a talking point for any new employee, whose eyes would widen slightly at the sight of such an ancient computer — yet not as ancient still as its host, with Computerworld having been founded in 1967.
Given my employer's history, it's no surprise that I'm not the only Apple II alumnus in the building: Computerworld all-star reporter Gregg Keizer is formerly of Softdisk, and CIO.com executive editor Dan Muse was editor-in-chief of inCider/A+, which employed many folk who are still with IDG, Computerworld's publisher. But I've not seen any of these esteemed colleagues, all authorities in modern enterprise IT, cling to their old tech and bridge it into their modern careers. After my Apple II, the next oldest computer I've seen here is a 2006-era Mac mini.
So my departure from Computerworld invokes not only the usual regret when bidding adieu to such wonderful co-workers, many of whom have become friends for life. It also means the end of the Apple II's official relationship with a storied institution. I've been invited to freelance for this and other IDG publications, but though some of my Apple II stories were occasionally the top-read stories in their months of publication, in general, I doubt the free pitches of computer nostalgia that the editors were happy to entertain from a passionate in-house writer will warrant tapping their limited freelance budget.
So yeah: I'm wistful. Nostalgic. Melancholy. The Apple II will come with me to my new workplace. But that will be a smaller team, in a less social environment, with stricter network regulations and fewer media opportunities. It won't be the same. Nothing ever is. But it's time to move on.
I've been cleaning out my cubicle for the past week. I thought it would be an appropriate bookend to this blog post to share a photo of my cubicle, sans Apple II. But that's not how I want to remember this small space that, for a few years, was a corporate gateway to the retrocomputing community.
The Apple II will be the last thing I pack up. That's when the heart has gone out from the building.
The Apple II is a part of me. When it goes, I go.