I have decided to make a career move and have accepted a position as Developer Relations Engineer at Golioth.io. I’m happy to announce that Elliot Williams will be the next Editor in Chief of Hackaday.
Right now I’m in my 13th year at Hackaday, having started in the summer of 2009. But like all of the Hackaday writing crew, I began as a loyal reader of the site. I remember hearing about Hackaday when Kevin Rose mentioned in on an episode of the old CNET TV program The Screensavers early in 2005. Having already been building robots and just starting on 8-bit AVR microcontrollers, Hackaday was exactly the source of new and interesting projects I was looking for.
An enormous amount has changed since then. When I started as a writer we had just stopped using black and white photos. A few articles later, we removed the CSS that forced all articles to be lowercase. When I became head editor in 2013 we stopped calling it Hack a Day in favor of Hackaday, and about a year later we overhauled the site, moving from green-on-black to yellow-on black and expanding the 470 pixel content width to 800. Progress.
What hasn’t changed is how we stay fresh. Hackaday has always trusted our writers to guide us by following their own interests. The people who write for Hackaday have far better things to do, but they use their writing as a creative outlet to focus on leveling up their skills, to discover new uses of available technology, and to share that energy with the greater Hackaday community. They live all over the world and work in many different fields. These experiences come together in there collective writings. I’m lucky to have this great group of writers, and so are you. When their time has ended, the hope is that a new group of readers will step up to the plate and make sure the good times never end.
Something Special at Hackaday
Hackaday is a truly independent voice and the trust our readers have in us is our most valuable asset. Over the years, I’ve seen one site after another fall to the blight that is the advertorial or “sponsored content” — when some company pays to have their message published on an otherwise trusted site. Hackaday has never had to do this. Editorial independence is a luxury we have thanks to the strong backing of our parent company Supplyframe which believes that the Hackaday community is worth it. Of course, you wouldn’t have it any other way.
Supplyframe bought Hackaday in July of 2013 and invested heavily in the future of the organization. They created Hackaday.io to provide a place for project hosting, and the next spring we launched the Hackaday Prize. We hosted our first conference that November 2014 in Munich to announce the grand prize winner. This was the predecessor to the Hackaday Superconference which began in 2015 and has grown to be widely recognized as the finest hardware conference out there.
During this time, Hackaday started writing long-form articles on a range of topics; deep dives into historical figures, primers for picking up new skills, interest pieces on the world around us, and explainers on the science behind equipment and materials we all use when building projects. Joe Kim came on as Hackaday’s art director and grew up a visual presence around these longer articles that is uniquely Hackaday. And the writers and editors stepped up beyond the shorter project features to meet this challenge.
I love it at Hackaday. I’m sad to leave.
Why Leave Such a Good Thing?
So why would I ever leave the good thing I have going for me? Well, I’ve always wondered if I could write firmware professionally. While that’s not exactly where I’m going, it is a step in that direction.
Over the summer, my good friend Chris Gammell mentioned he was contracting for a startup that is building cloud services for firmware engineers around the Zephyr open source RTOS. I decided to give it a try, as I have a number of microcontroller IoT platforms over the years. I love the idea of being hardware agnostic, and I’ve long been a proponent of signed binaries and over-the-air updates. The cloud side has web control and a REST API as you’d expect, but I was happy to see it also has terminal-based control for those of us who like easy scripting.
This fall Chris let me know he was considering going full time in Developer Relations and was looking for a counterpart who knew how to write firmware. The job is to get to know every part of the platform, to work on the documentation, to build hardware demos in tandem with Chris and write content around those, and to get to know the people using the platform and support them with any help they need. So, play with embedded systems, write about them, and geek out about it with other people! It’s a chance to leverage the things I’ve been good at here at Hackaday, plus to get some firmware work on my resume. The stars have aligned and I feel like I have to make the leap.
Hackaday’s Bright Future
It’s been amazing to be here for this, and that’s why many of the writing crew — especially the staff writers and editors — have been a part of Hackaday for so many years now. Yes, I’m stepping away, but as the new Editor in Chief, Elliot Williams is building on his more than seven years of experience with Hackaday.
Tom Nardi is taking over as Managing Editor, and Kristina Panos will become Assignments Editor. Jenny List and Adam Fabio are long-time members of the editing staff. These editors are all backed up by more than thirty other writers who have kept our publishing schedule full around the clock, day in and day out, year upon year.
While today I’m saying goodbye to editing and writing, I’m not saying goodbye to Hackaday. You can bet that I’ll continue reading and sending in those tips.
Thank you to everyone who has sent us a link to a project to show off on our front page. Thank you for all those constructive and insightful comments that add depth to the articles we published. Thank you to everyone I have met, not through a screen, but out in the real world — those instant friendships are forever cherished. And thank you to everyone who values passing down knowledge and helping others level up.
Long live Hackaday!