Ladies and gentleman, Anil Dash has officially left the building.
As the very first employee at blogging and social media software maker, Six Apart (news, site) and a seasoned blogger himself (10 years!), Dash has been intrinsic to the company as well as the online writing discussion since the beginning. Consequently, his departure throws up a little red flag for some of us -- what does this mean for blogging? Or for Six Apart? Well we asked him, and this is what he had to say:
There’s No Hateration in This Typery
"Six Apart is a lot bigger than me," Dash claimed matter-of-factly. "I was completely happy…and left on absolutely great terms; not because of anything at the company, but because I had the opportunity to do something uniquely ambitious..."
Dash’s new gig as Director of Expert Labs, a government social media startup, is that "uniquely ambitious" project. An unexpected career change? Perhaps from the outside, but Dash sees great potential in the influence social media can have on government -- if done right. Designed to help policy makers in the U.S. Federal Government tap into tech, it seems that Expert Labs is gearing to use Dash’s former specialty to help the government up its communication and awareness game.
Blogging is Booming -- Even in the White House
How does blogging fit into all of this? According to dash, nicely. "I think blogging is booming," he said, citing his own decade-long streak of advocating the medium. Although, he does admit that we’ve hit a certain turning point:
…seeing the White House launch its own blog felt like we'd finally reached a certain level where the medium was finally seen as essential. That doesn't mean it's downhill from here, but maybe that it's finally at the point where it's not pushing a boulder uphill anymore.
Logic (and physics) tells us that if we’re done pushing the boulder uphill, it’s because we’re at the top of it. As in, perhaps this is as good as it’s going to get. And yet, ever the optimist, Dash noted Six Apart's recent success, labeling their core businesses TypePad Micro, TypePad API and TypePad Motion as just as interesting as anything they’ve done over the years.
Furthermore, Dash suggested general unawareness of the magnitude of Six Apart's solutions: "I think people still don't realize that Six Apart Media's advertising platform reaches more people than MySpace, billions of page views across thousands of sites, including lots of people on non-Six Apart platforms."
It’s Time for Change
Whether or not the stats of a second place social network or Dash’s claims are enough to quell the fears of nervy bloggers, it’s still resoundingly clear that change is upon us. It can be seen in every corner of the Web, and so, at this point, it seems the most we can hope for is to continue to find ways to cross-connect the ground we’ve already covered with whatever is coming our way. And Dash’s latest move is a prime example:
At its core, the world of Government 2.0 feels to me very much like what I saw in the media world 5 or 10 years ago. Just like at an average newspaper back then, today in the government there are a few people at the very highest levels and a lot of regular workers who know that their world is about to change. While there are a few folks are reluctant to embrace that change, I think it's inevitable, and we're going to see as radical a transformation of government thanks to this new generation of social tools as we've seen of newspapers and media thanks to blogs.
Has Six Apart Also Left the Building?
Anil is just one of a number of Six Apart old timers who've recently chosen -- or been offered -- new professional paths outside the company. Six Apart started life focused exclusively on the Movable Type blogging platform and the broad community of public and semi-pro bloggers.
As Anil's comments above highlight, times have changed. The company still delivers Movable Type updates, but their focus has shifted heavily towards pleasing larger corporate IT and marketing departments. Their hosted services including TypePad and Vox, and their media business, Six Apart Media, have taken center stage. It seems that for most practical purposes, Six Apart has chosen new fields to play in.