For the past year-plus, I joined the dark side: I was working for an Internet company called MOLI, first as editorial director, then as an editor at large. It was actually an interesting immersion into the world of digital startups; I learned a hell of a lot, and met a lot of cool people. The best part of the gig was getting to assemble my dream team of bloggers, and edit them every day.
That’s done now. We all got laid off a couple weeks ago. So there’s a dozen more top writers looking for work right now; I recommend them all.
The past six months I wrote a blog for MOLI called Populism. I’m copying those blogs into here now, so they don’t disappear forever. Starting with my farewell column, which pretty much sums it up:
The internet is like an octopus, reaching out with eight tentacles to find its own head. There’s stuff going on everywhere — good, bad, and ugly — but there’s a constant search for a center. My year-plus experience at MOLI has been like a twist on the old riddle: “If a group of talented writers blog into the cacophony of cyberspace, do they make a noise?”
Yes, I like to think, even if the MOLI View has sometimes acted as much as a literary salon as as a magazine. But what a salon it has been! Donnell Alexander has been our Robert Benchley, Rob Levine our Alexander Woolcott, Theo Kogan our Tallulah Bankhead, Richard Pachter our Harpo Marx (sorry Richard, I couldn’t resist!). We’ve had at least two Dorothy Parkers in Wendy Case and Jana Martin. The quality of the writing for the View has never ceased to amaze me. I mean, I knew these people were good when I brought them on, but that day after day they delivered smart, savvy, funny, moving, provocative, and occasionally scandalous reads — plus Queen Juliana’s thoughtful, poetic videos — was beyond my expectations.
Getting a couple handfuls of writers across the country to file original, insightful copy daily should have been like herding cats. But it wasn’t. MOLI’s contributing editors have been consummate professionals, and Natasha Bright, Audra Hodges, and I merely had the pleasure of shepherding their prose through the damn CMS. We were polishing gems, like Cathay Che’s dating and surfing anecdotes, Celeste Fraser Delgado’s stories of working in a youth crisis center, Rebecca Wakefield’s acerbic political anaylsis, and Neal Pollack and Erika Shickel’s hilarious parenting conversations. Our two writers’ retreats truly were like days-long salons — and great bonding experiences for this group of now friends.
I’m indulging in all this back-patting because the View is sadly coming to an end. MOLI is changing direction in the ever-shifting, drifting techno-idustrial economy, and my crew and I are out of jobs.
Our profiles will still be here, and some of us will probably still blog in them. Otherwise, look for us in the blogosphere. These are people who need to be heard, and I’m sure their distinctive voices will find new homes. We may not all meet at the MOLI water cooler anymore, but please, use that Google tentacle now and again, and come say hi.