Today marks 11 years since STH started. Last year, we did a large piece for STH Turns 10 Years Old and Taking a Checkpoint in the Story. Since I recently did our STH Q2 2020 Update A Letter from the Editor, and 11 is a less exciting anniversary than 10, this is going to be a shorter piece. I simply wanted to commemorate year 11.
The Strange End to a Year and Start of a New Chapter
Since the Silicon Valley is still in the middle of a slow re-opening from a shelter-in-place order, I wanted to take a minute or two and just comment on how strange the new normal is.
Looking at our early February 2020 content plan, I was set to do have been on my sixth international trip of the year by now with a seventh tentative at the time. We had 24 days blocked for trade show coverage with another four optional. Normally when I make these multi-quarter plans I underestimate how much coverage we do at trade shows. As a result, we have absolutely had an enormous coverage area that we simply did not do.
I have been working to counteract that missed coverage since I learn a lot during the process. The start of this was Hands-on with the Intel Co-Packaged Optics and Silicon Photonics Switch before everyone was wearing masks in the US. We covered a Samsung-Inspur Next-Gen OCP NVMeoF Solution from OCP Summit 2020, without attending. We also had a huge set of NVIDIA A100 Ampere coverage without GTC 2020. Recently, I managed to do some trade-show alternative coverage but had to be fully masked even for short video segments that we will likely use due to COVID-19 restrictions. It will likely look a little funny, but that is what we have right now in the Silicon Valley.
A Major Mix Change
STH readers may have started to feel this change, but in the past year, we have made a big change. Unlike most other sites, we have largely de-emphasized news to an even greater extent. News is a good way to drive traffic, but I also do not like competing in activities where we are 1 of 10,000 producing largely the same content.
Since 2019, and more specifically since STH turned 10, we have focused on publishing every day. That includes major holidays. In 2019, the only day we did not publish was before turning 10, Easter Sunday.
Something else happened. Our reviews got much longer. Two great examples are CPU reviews and server reviews. Each has grown by 30-50% over the past year or year and a half. That may not seem like a big deal, but as the formats expand, they take longer to write and edit.
Tasked with making meaningful content every day was probably something I underestimated the level of effort to undertake. June, in particular, by the end of today (June 8) we have already spent more hours testing and creating content for than we did in all of June 2019.
I just wanted to say thank you to Rohit, John, Eric, and Will who have all stepped up in the past year to take larger reviews creating content for STH. A big part of this year’s success has been getting my hands off of the writing process more. Our readers may have noticed, I am primarily working on server reviews and keeping the site running.
I also wanted to give another thank you out to Virginia who is STH’s external marketing agency rep. She may have the toughest job because I am a stickler for having complete editorial control. We get a lot of offers to publish content such as sponsored/ guest posts where third parties want to push their own marketing content. I do not like reading that content since, by its nature, it is not balanced and well-reasoned. We get offers to have automatically video ads that I say no to because I do not like them. We do things differently at STH because I demand that we do not create something I do not want to visit. Virginia has a tough job since I am constantly pushing back with this high standard, yet most potential advertisers are easily able to place campaigns elsewhere that we will not run.
The reason we are putting in all of this effort into STH is for our readers. It goes without saying that without our great readers (and now our small but growing YouTube audience) and the response we get STH would not be where it is today.
I know we are not perfect, but please know that there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes to bring you something that we think is industry-leading in how it is created and presented. Thank you for bearing with us for 11 years of an unplanned journey of creating an industry resource.