My time at Slate officially ended at the close of the workday Friday, so that’s the curtain on two-and-a-half years as a web developer for what I think is the best magazine on the web.
It sounds embellished, but before I left TIME I used to routinely tell the editors that the site should work to be “more like Slate,” meaning TIME.com needed to do less news-chasing and more personality-based news analysis. Magazines are rarely going to beat all the wire services, newspapers and bloggers to the punch, so the best way to distinguish a site as a commentary outlet is by letting the writers be themselves and by not being afraid to stick a neck out to get the point across. Maybe two out of every seven people I talk to know of Slate, but those two are inevitably die-hard fans who ask me what particular Slate writers are like in real life. In this era of fragmented audience, that weirdly high level of interest is just what you want for your site.
As much as it was great working at Slate in the publication-wide sense, on an individual level I’m ready to move on after this period of strictly technological work. Working solely in web development just isn’t where my main interests lie. A well-functioning piece of code is a linguistic treat — it has the ability to convey exactly the commands and results that you want within a delimited set of communications, and being that linguistic skillz are how I roll, I’m all about it. But after so much time building pieces of the site, I miss the variety and sense of direction that comes from a more multidisciplinary job — I want to use not only my technology skills, but my journalism knowledge, my sense of creativity and my ability to play a bigger role in direction and strategy. That said, the web-technology work will be invaluable along the way, and technology got my foot in the Slate door in the first place. So while it’s not entirely what I want to do with my career, big ups nonetheless to web technology.
Slate is opinionated and intellectual, and so too are the people who fill the pages. As a result, it’s a great workplace where everyone throws ideas back and forth to pick out the best ones. I really will miss working there, but sometime in the future I hope I get the chance to work with the site again.
Meantime, I’m getting my vacation on for a week. After that, it’s on to Phase Michigan in just a short while. Peace out until then.