From the Bubble to the Arctic and Back to BYTE
BYTE -- Eleven years ago this month, I was sitting in the offices of long-since-gone Business 2.0 magazine in San Francisco watching the spectacular fallout from the dot-com bubble burst in progress.
A revolution was collapsing around us. If you were to look for me 18 months later, I would have been pretty hard to find. I was manning a radio station in Bush Alaska along the Yukon River, 250 miles from the nearest stoplight.
Yes, I was one of those people that kind of freaked out and dropped off the radar following the crash, the 2000 election debacle and finally, 9/11.
Part of me felt that technology had failed us. Well, not completely, but it had failed to produce the bright, shiny Utopia that seemed imminent right around 1998 or so. Of course, readers of BYTE saw the possibilities the future held long before they hit the mainstream in the 1990s, but there was something in the air in the late 1990s. It was really happening.
Suddenly there was unlimited funding for all our wildest, nerdiest ideas, even the really stupid ones. Tech was changing everything – life, the world, even the economy and the nature of business – it was a "New Economy," remember? Or so they said.
It all came apart so quickly. Widespread optimism and dreaming gave way to recession, terrorism, war, climate change, war, terrorism and mega-recession.
I spent almost four years hiding out in Alaska, (and having an incredible time up there, to be sure – you've got to go sometime), then spent time traveling the world, reporting on politics, energy, the environment--topics that seemed to have the same urgency that I had felt in the Web 1.0 world.
There was a bright, shining light beginning to penetrate the fog of wars, social and economic inertia, and it was emanating once again from Silicon Valley. And not just from California, but from the entire West Coast, and from Boston, and our many great University towns, and Austin and the Rust Belt and Israel, China, Europe, Buenos Aires, Nairobi, you name the place – it was all starting to happen again, but this time bigger, better, broader and smarter.
During the years of my tech sabbatical that started in Alaska, when I was traveling and reporting for NPR and a number of other outlets, I had little optimism to offer about the future. But in the past few years since I returned to writing about technology that has changed. In fact, I haven't had as much optimism and enthusiasm about the future as I do right now with the re-launch of BYTE at this pivotal moment.
BYTE was there for the beginning of the personal computing revolution, before most people even recognized it as such. Today, most of my friends who aren't in the tech world think I'm crazy when I tell them how much hope I have for tomorrow, how it will absolutely blow their minds.
But it's already happening – digital tools are taking down entrenched governments without firing a shot, business is being re-shaped again, and if we can just get our cars to fly, we'll have lapped the Jetsons. And now BYTE is back to chronicle this new revolution, again.
The media has had a hard time keeping up with the most recent tectonic shifts in technology, but BYTE is back and we've brought with us some legacy tools – authority and integrity – to integrate into our new media landscape and help right the ship.
I'm excited to be sailing into this bold new future with BYTE's storied history as a strong anchor that binds us to the lessons learned in the past. And let's not forget our deep stable of journalists and technologists who can help us organize the complex timelines that have carried us to where we are today, as well as decode what's coming next.
This is a new chapter... actually, more like a new book for BYTE and for our ever-shrinking, interconnected world. Today I feel ready and eager to continue on towards that bright horizon, which for me – and I hope for all BYTE readers – is looking quite vast once again.
We're back! And so is BYTE!
Eric Mack is BYTE's executive editor of news. Email him with news ideas and comments at BYTEmack@gmail.com