Where Did You Go? Where Are You Going? Part I

Where Did You Go? Where Are You Going? Part I

Since I’ve updated the site for a few weeks now, I’ve gotten several questions along the lines of “why did you stop?” and “why are you back?”  I don’t have great answers to those questions, but I think to start I should go back to the very beginning.  (If you want the TL;DR the answers are “money, life” and “I don’t know”)

In the fall of 1999, our daughter was 4 years old and our son was just 6 months.  I had a job at a small industrial computer company.  Life was good. As a long-time tech nerd, I was fascinated by the Web.  I had helped create the website for my company and wanted to try my hand at creating something for myself. I didn’t want to spend money on a domain if I was going to give up after a few weeks, so I used the web space that Comcast provided all its users to post some stories. It was one of those crazy URLs like http://www.comcast.net/webspace/user/w/bbriggs83204/.   After a few months, I decided I had demonstrated enough persistence, so in April of 2000 I purchased BBspot.com.  

It was my passion.  I would spend all my free time creating content and infrastructure behind the site.  I met friends from around the world and they started helping as well.  It was exhilarating.  After a couple of years, Mrs. BBspot and I discussed quitting my day job to do it full job.  We cut back on our expenses dramatically to start saving and seeing if we could function on the expected reduced income.  I can’t express how much gratitude I have for Mrs. BBspot for the support she gave.  It was risky and exciting. 

In 2003, we executed Order BB and BBspot became my full-time job.  Being able to dedicate all my time paid off and it was more successful than we had planned.  I had several appearances on TechTV.  The site was linked all over the place.  Eventually, it led to a publisher from New York contacting me about writing a book.  Well, duh!  This was awesome!  

Looking back, I think the BBook helped accelerate the downfall of the site.  I don’t regret doing it at all, but the effort of writing a book and running the site simultaneously contributed to burnout.  In 2008 The BBook of Geek hit the shelves, and coincidentally a global economic disaster ensued.  I’m not saying the BBook caused it, but…

The excitement of doing the site didn’t disappear overnight.  It happened gradually.  Eroded away by burnout, the economic realities of running a website, and the anxiety and depression that have followed me my whole life. I started spending more time trying to figure out ways to make money, and less time creating the content that brought me joy. This created an inescapable negative feedback loop.  Looking back, I feel there was some path to success that would’ve allowed me to continue, but I didn’t find it.  

By 2010 it was clear to even me that it couldn’t continue as is.  Gee, what gave me the hint? Strife at home? Dwindling finances? Mental misery?  As much as it pained me, I had to admit that this wasn’t fun any more, I needed to find something else to do with my life. We’ll cover that in part two tomorrow.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Mike Whitley

    So glad to have you back again, Brian!

  2. Thorbjørn Kühl

    Hey Brian, sorry to hear that your giving others joy resulted in mental hardships for yourself.

    I would like to thank you for a lot of awesome times back in the day, and if I ever remember to wrestle my hand away from Reddit and Imgur, I’ll sure come back and check out new articles!

    I recently wanted to use one of those websites that just replace a few words in an article, to make an article about high speed rail across europe, into an article about high speed funiculars across europe, but I couldn’t get it to work, anyway, I’d love to read that article from you 🙂

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