io9 was launched on 2 January 2008 so by making it to 2020 it has been around for 12 years as the Earth measures them. As I’ve done for a few years, here’s a look back at how it has celebrated its birthdays.
2007: Before io9 officially launched, its own back catalog was being built up so that, at launch, it would offer its audience hundreds of articles to read. To quote the founder’s words:
[I]n May of 2007 then-managing editor Lockhart Steele had coffee with me in San Francisco to discuss whether I might like to run such a blog. My feeling was basically “hell yeah,” and over the next few months we began prototyping what eventually became the blog you are reading today. It started as a humble test site living at a blogspot address, and eventually migrated over [to] the Gawker servers in fall 2007.
The website didn’t have that name at the time and there’s at least one alternate reality wherein the placeholder name Futuretron stuck. Although the timing of the “first” post of io9 as a Gawker Media Group property is a bit murky (the Kinja software allows users to create fake publication dates, so there’s io9 not-published articles filed to 2006, 2005, 2004…), it looks like the in utero growth of io9 started on 29 September 2007.
But this pile of hundreds of articles finally went live on browsers in early 2008.
Earth is full of people who want to sell you cheap ways of seeing the future. They tell you tomorrow will be more of the same, with shinier toys. Or that work as we know it is about to end. io9 is the visionary watchdog who calls those charlatans on their shit. We’re going to show you a new world that’s shockingly different from what you’re used to. And it’s not always going to be a shiny happy place.
2010: Not much. The 2nd was a Saturday, you know how the place is on weekends. The 3rd saw a really good entry in the series “Blogging the Hugos” wherein Hugo-awarded books were given an essay. Avatar was still making piles and piles of money. An article about a hauntingly prescient “in 10 years from now” article from The Independent oddly doesn’t mention its prediction that the US President in 2020 would be a loud-mouthed, politically-inexperienced older white guy with a bad record of treating women. (The Independent was referring to the at-the-time Governor of California, of course.)
2011: On its third birthday io9 hoped that the Higgs Boson would be discovered that year; it probably was, although CERN didn’t announce the discovery until July of 2012. Lightspeed Magazine had one of their monthly features of original SF/F content. A superhero comic book movie’s toys were shown off.
2012: For its fourth birthday io9 gave a 2011 review. It talked about fecal matter dropped by wombats. It covered the SF/F tv that was happening that week in a series called “What to Watch” and/or “Tv this week” Morning Spoilers.
2013: On its fifth birthday, io9 talked about a fossil lizard named after Barack Obama. The Walking Dead season 3 trailer was worth writing an article about. An installment of the “Postal Apocalypse” series happened. Morning Spoilers.
2014: On its sixth birthday, io9 did an installment of its “Comment of the Day” series. It asked which remake missed the point of the original. An installment of “Bookshelf Injection”, io9’s monthly SF/F book release articles, was posted. A pretty dang good article from Observation Deck was shared. Morning Spoilers.
2015: On its seventh birthday io9 presented the math equation Giant Gummy Bear + Liquid Nitrogen + Shotgun = Magic. Some really nice surface imagery of Mars. A nice comment of the day about dirty-sounding words. A really strong article on the future of women on Earth was published. A pretty dang good article from Observation Deck was shared. Morning Spoilers.
Interruption from Reality: Between its 7th and 8th birthdays, io9 changes. Way way way back on its first birthday, its founder wrote this about the people who put a few thousand hours of work into it in 2007:
We all wanted io9 to be more than a fan site. Yes, we would be covering the essential scifi entertainment news, but we wanted to go beyond that into art, culture, fashion, technology, and science.
In early 2013, its founder also mentioned how io9 was created to be something more than an entertainment blog:
One thing I’d insisted on right from the beginning was that we have science stories as well as culture and futurism. Nick [Denton, founder of Gawker Media Group] was dubious, but he came around. And now our science coverage is absolutely crucial to what we do. We want to present you with a clear vision of what tomorrow could bring, and that includes reporting on real science, as well as analyzing science fiction and futurism.
But by some time in 2014, The Powers That Be inside Gawker Media Group changed their mind, and decided to downsize io9 into a subsite that would primarily focus on genre entertainment news, leaving those other topics to other places in the GMG, primarily at Gizmodo. This change in focus leaves some really amusing vestigial organs around the Internet; as an example, io9's Facebook page erroneously links to it at io9.com and erroneously describes io9 as a “science website”.
This change in focus also provokes a series of questions for anyone studying or discussing the history of io9. Does io9 still exist? Is a website still the same website if it’s been dramatically refocused? In the world of print media, magazines and newspapers will change their focus over time as the audience they’re writing for changes, but (to pick on one magazine) National Geographic is still doing what it was doing 5 or 10 or 20 years ago: funding and reporting on research, publishing maps, and publishing photojournalist essays of people and places around Earth. If it stopped doing more than half of what it was doing, would it stop being National Geographic?
Just for the sake of being consistent in this article, I label the post-2015 io9 as io9, but the change in what it discussed on its birthdays helps show that a drastic change in it occurred, and for the sake of anyone who isn’t a long-time io9 reader, I wanted to give some context for why.
2016: On its eighth birthday io9 pointed out that 2 January is also National Science Fiction Day which is aligned with Isaac Asimov’s birthday. An Open Channel asked what the community had for geeky New Year’s resolutions. The Winds of Winter was announced as not being expected for 2016 release. Cool space stuff was shared from Gizmodo. It was Saturday so there were no Morning Spoilers.
2017: On its ninth birthday io9 reported that Ridley Scott had complained about superhero movies. A comic book writer was reported to be returning to comic book writing. Toys from an upcoming film were looked at. Trailers were shared. An installment of Bookshelf Injection was posted. Something about Star Wars, something about Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, something about Stranger Things. An article written about one image. Rocket and dinosaur stuff was shared from Gizmodo. Morning Spoilers.
2018: On its tenth birthday io9 reported that Ridley Scott thought films about Xenomorphs should be a big SF/F franchise. A new release date for The Cloverfield Paradox was discussed. An article’s headline, accompanying gif, and first sentence discussed (“spoiled”?) a character’s appearance from Blade Runner 2049. Looking forward to 2018, io9 wanted to let us know what movies to “give a damn about” and share 35 minutes of video of two io9 staffers talking about five TV shows they were excited about. There was an article on a Marvel comic book tv show, an article about an episode of Black Mirror, an article about a scene of an episode of The X-Files, and an article about a Disney animated show that didn’t make it out of pre-production. An installment of Bookshelf Injection was posted. Stuff potentially relevant to io9's audience was shared from Kotaku and The Root. Morning Spoilers.
2019: On its eleventh birthday io9 started, as is tradition, with Morning Spoilers. I think this Gizmodo article was shared because it’s about Netflix? The Predator. Doctor Who. A themed article from Gizmodo’s Paleofuture sub-blog was shared. US politics mixing with Game of Thrones advertising showed up. Bird Box. Two Gizmodo articles about a distant solar system object were shared here and here, the third article that day from Gizmodo about that object was not shared. The Punisher, the tv show. The Spider-Man PS4 game has costumes. An article from Kotaku about comic books and RPGs was shared. 2 Kinja deals. Doctor Who, again. Star Wars. They closed out the day by sharing an award-winning short animated film.
2020: Let’s find out! I’m going to assume there will be Morning Spoilers because it’s a Thursday.
io9's logo continues to watch over the place. She’s from the future, so she knows that io9 will keep keeping on.