John Biggs knows the exact first and last moments of his time at Gizmodo down to the minute: APR 18, 2005 4:28 PM to JUL 2, 2006 11:23 AM. But during that time, the site grew from Joel Johnson's one man shop into something bigger—and, hopefully, better.
What was Gizmodo like when you got here? What were you like? What would you differently today than when you started at Gizmodo?
John Biggs: I was, I suppose, the fourth or fifth Gizmodo employee. I started under Joel Johnson, who was this kind of weird, really tall guy who seemed really stressed when I first met him. I was laid off from Laptop magazine in 2005 and I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. I think I emailed Joel when he was looking for writers before I was laid off at Laptop anyway, so I was probably on the road to getting the boot at the magazine. I couldn't stand writing 5,000 word articles on PCMCIA cards.
Joel and I met in the city once and then near his house. He was really intense at the time because he was literally writing 28 posts a day, every day, and had not a moment's respite. He told me it would be fun. He said he had been talking to folks at the New York Times, and they wanted to write for him. I figured I would never get the job.
But no. Joel hired me. I started doing 14 of those posts. Then he quit, and I had to do all 28 of those posts. So I ramped up the hiring and brought in Charlie White, Nicholas Deleon, and Jason Chen.
Back then—and this isn't that long ago—I was really intent on getting us PR access. It was hard. CES wasn't open to us, and we felt it was a personal slight when, say, the WSJ got a bit of info and we didn't. Or if Sony invited Engadget to an event and not us. Now, I can't run away from PR people fast enough. Now that blogs are a real, cogent media, we're basically suffering from overload. PR people see us as a sure thing. You feel like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman when Jason Alexander starts to rub her leg. We're nice girls.
If I had it to do again, I'd probably figure out a weight and exercise plan earlier. Being totally sedentary and focusing on writing all day, every day, is really hard on the body. I also would have been nicer to Joel so he wouldn't have had any reason to fire me. I hug him as much as I can now.
What was your favorite post written while you were here?
JB: Noah Robischon wrote a post about my son being born. That's the one I remember the most. I was really touched. If bloggers are anything, they are nice, loyal people who have a lot of fun.
What do I think of where Giz ended up? I think the site ran through some rough spots and I think it took things in stride. It's now basically Wired for people who don't want to read Wired, and that's pretty cool. I learned a lot about good content from Giz, and the writers keep churning it out. Blogs are really all the same these days, but Giz is constantly interesting.
Are there any posts you wrote that you're particularly proud/ashamed/mortified by? What do you think when you look back at your old writing?
JB:Most of the stuff I wrote back during that time was really weird. I thought blogs were conversational so I talked about getting my tires replaced in posts about Sony. I had no idea what I was doing, but I kept at it. I'm embarrassed by most of the stuff I read from that period. I mean what the hell was this? However, I did learn to be funny in a very specific, Internet way, which makes me an asset these days.
John Biggs is the East Coast Editor at TechCrunch.
Gizmodo is turning 10. All week, we're going to be bringing you snapshots from the past.