For the past five years, we've operated this website in a public beta. We've been working out some of the implementation. Next month, around the time of our fifth anniversary, The Awl will finally launch. (April 20th is our anniversary, if you're thinking of gifts. Hold on to your 4/20 jokes, though, we are full up.) We have gathered some data and done some user testing and think we're ready for this big step.
Who will run The Awl?
The Awl will be run by John Herrman, currently of BuzzFeeᴅ, and Matt Buchanan, currently of the New Yorker. We'll introduce them in more detail down the road, but they're really lovely, thoughtful, curious and smart—and also they're total weirdos.
Wait a minute, I Googled, and they're, like, tech bloggers? They both worked at Gizmodo! I don't… What?
After careful consideration and an in-depth analysis of where the market is moving, we're iterating toward an all-Samsung news format. The tractional synergies of this pivot are just too good to pass up. Love you, Samsung!
(For the suspicious: that's a joke. Not the Samsung part, we totally do love Samsung. But there will be no tech blog here.)
No, but seriously, will the site continue with its tradition of publishing longform writing, criticism, poetry, reporting and commentary by radical lesbians, witty frat bros and feminists, women and men of color, crazed gay dudes, and also emerging and already emerged writers of all ages, classes and backgrounds, even sometimes the faintly somewhat conservative? Will it remain a place for thoughtful, intelligent observation and unexpected points of view? Will it retain its commitment to never wasting your time and never treating you like an idiot, or, even worse, a number?
Will the original two, what's-their-faces, still write on The Awl?
Yes, Alex Balk and Choire Sicha will absolutely continue to write here, when not attending to matters of finance or corporate planning or whatever founders do all day.* Like, getting writer checks out faster, for one thing. But they'll actually do better writing work once they have real editors focused on running a real site. It is way past time that there was someone in charge around here who actually went to college.
What about the quick, tiny fun stuff? Internet etiquette, self-mocking listicles, bear videos? What about BEAR VIDEOS?
Think of it this way: If you actually like The Awl, the things you like about it will get better. If you are cool to The Awl, the things that put you off will get likely better or even go away. Choire and Alex are tired, broken men who have taken this thing as far as it can go. An injection of fresh young blood can only help the whole project grow and change in the best ways.
Hey, wasn't there a third one when you started out?
Good memory! David Cho is currently the publisher of Grantland. John Shankman has been The Awl's publisher for the last two years. He's really excited about this launch and its "positive implications for building the brand." Hashtag business. Hashtag crushingit.
Who really owns The Awl and its other publications? I heard it was some stealth VC guy who made his money from spellcaster spam.
The Awl is entirely owned by the people who work here. That is also true at our other publications. We have taken exactly zero dollars in seed or investment money. We've let a couple of people buy us lunch though. If you want to buy us lunch, it's firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hey, where does The Awl live, anyway?
The Awl lives burrowed within the beating hearts of everyone who looks at the Internet and still sees the dream of a better world buried deep down below, but in a more concrete sense we are currently in lease negotiations for a new office in Downtown Brooklyn, or DoBro, as they apparently call it.
Hahaha, they call it that?
Not really, not yet they don't. It could happen though. Say it out loud. Now remind yourself how stupid "DUMBO" sounded at first, and then think about the last time someone told you to meet them in Dumbo and you actually gave it a second thought. (How stupid the name sounds, I mean, not actually going to Dumbo, which, let's face it, is a huge drag.) Laugh at DoBro now, but when you're coming to see us at the office in a little bit, that's where you'll be telling people you're heading.
The Awl's current aesthetic has been referred to as "garbage," "visually offensive," "a giant pile of stinking refuse" and "uggo." That whole anti-design element was cute at first, but it has been five years, how long are you going to keep that up? Reading you on mobile makes me want to claw out my eyes with my keys. It's like you're actually trying to drive readers away.
Okay, well, harsh, but also you are not wrong. Good news: The site is going to work better, for sure. For the last nine months or so, Awl head of technology Dusty Matthews (late of Vox and, before that, Curbed) has been rebuilding things from the bottom up. (Remember how we used to crash all the time? Remember how our page load was laughable?) That process now proceeds to the front. So there'll be changes, yes. There might be a bit of radical change even, but we won't make it suddenly all like "Wait, where am I?" It'll be more like, "Huh, why don't my eyes hate me and themselves anymore?" We'd link to Dusty's Twitter, but he deleted it. (Tempting, right? Think about how much better your life would be with no Twitter. You could actually make a website look appealing, for instance.)
I don't know what I think of this.
Change is always scary but that never keeps it from happening anyway. Here's the thing: It's an adventure! It'll be fun! Nobody knows how it will turn out! And even if it's a total disaster, remember this (and it's a maxim with considerably broader implications, so maybe write it down): It's just the Internet. Seriously. It's just the Internet.