New New York
Remember a few years ago I mentioned that I was moving to San Francisco?
Well, it's time for an update: I'm moving back to New York City!
There's a couple of reasons why, and they nicely mirror the reasons why I moved to California in the first place. At that time, I said:
So, I'm moving to San Francisco to be even more involved in Six Apart. We're doing all this work with developers and partners because there's still another 99.9% of people in the world who haven't heard what weblogs can do for them. I want to be part of spreading that message, and we're going to need help to do it. I'm also moving because I still honestly believe Six Apart makes the best weblog tools in the world, and we're going to be the the company that brings weblogs to a broad audience.
It's been less than three years since then, and literally millions of people have joined the community of bloggers. A lot of my reason for moving in 2004 had to do specifically with Movable Type: it's the product that started our company, and we'd made some first mistakes in communicating about who it was for, what our plan was, and how things were going to evolve. I wasn't sure if we'd be able to get everybody blogging, but I sure as hell wanted to try.
The first sign that things have changed radically is that the idea of people building entire careers on top of blogs went from a hopeful wish to an everyday reality. The best example? Serious Eats. My wife Alaina helped create and launch the site on Movable Type as its General Manager, and the main reason we're moving back to New York is because running this site every day is her job. That blows my mind.
More importantly, Serious Eats a fucking fantastic community, already. I'm just amazed at the breadth of knowledge that the hosts and members on the site have about almost every kind of food. And I could watch Jeffrey Steingarten's insanity every day of the week.
Serious Eats represents the success of the professional blogging community in other ways, too. Back in 2004 when I wrote my post about moving to San Francisco, companies like Apperceptive didn't even exist. Today, they've got a whole staff of smart folks creating blog-powered sites for a living. I love that other people are getting to do something they love for a living, instead of as just a hobby.
But of course, there's still a lot to do. In explaining what I do for a living, or describing all the chances I get to talk about blogging, I'm frankly amazed at the number of people who don't have the faintest idea how blogging can be a great thing. I'm almost equally surprised that after years of talking about this all day every day, it's still exciting to me.
And I've got a lot of things that I feel are my personal obligation to address. There's the basics, like how a blog can make your life better, or make your job easier. But also, people don't know how deeply all of us at Six Apart care about getting new people to blog, to help them connect with people through blogging. Sometimes I think the strangers who attend the random conferences with me have more of an idea what's going on with Six Apart and Movable Type than the "experts" who spend all day reading blogs. That's something I intend to fix -- we haven't forgotten about our original community or taken them for granted, we just needed to talk to these new audiences because nobody else could do it.
There are other challenges: these days, we've got broadcast TV networks producing shows every week that are scaring the shit out of people, thinking that blogging is just "that thing on Dateline where my daughter puts her home address on the web". I think I can help dispel that fear, too. Perhaps more than anything, being outside of San Francisco means I can work on getting a more diverse crowd of people using these tools to make their jobs or their lives better.
That's where I started with this whole thing, trying to find a way to make real connections using my blog. Some of that is habit for me; I told my Vox neighborhood about my move before I posted it here. So I should mention that there was something of an easter egg in my post on leaving New York. I had said:
That's the part I struggle to remember, that I'll be glad to see how the city's evolved in my absence, and that I've already had a wealth of experiences that would last me a lifetime even if I could never return. This is closing a chapter, certainly, but not closing a book, and in the meantime I have what I've had. I worked at the top of the Empire State Building. I got to shake Rudy Giuliani's hand and say thanks. I got to buy the last mango I bought in Manhattan, and all that it entails. I got to watch the hot dog contest and the fireworks on the Fourth of July. I got stuck on the wrong side of the Macy's Parade on Thanksgiving. I walked through a silent Times Square in the middle of a snowstorm and pushed my way past the crowds in the Square on New Year's Eve. I stayed at home a hundred Saturday nights, knowing that there were tons of people having the time of their life out on the town, and didn't regret it for a minute.
The easter egg is that mention of "the last mango I bought in Manhattan". That mango was what I bought in lieu of an engagement ring when I proposed to my wife. A year later (and now, over a year ago!), we got married. And now that commitment is part of what brings me back home. Pretty cool.