the golden fleece
Today Lou Rosenfeld and Peter Morville sent out a message stating that Argus is closing their doors.
I’m not even sure if I can write about this.
When I was a html hack in the old egreetings days, I came across their Web Review articles. I remember being delighted by the information within, and printing them all out and putting them in a blue binder (I can see it from here, sticking out of my bookshelf.) I have referred to that binder again and again throughout my career.
When I found the O’Reilly book on IA, I felt my chosen career was validated. Here was a whole book on what I did everyday! And it included a lot of what I did (and a whole lot of what I didn’t). This is at a time when I had to do a lot of fighting every day to defend the value of good IA. I sat the book on a prominent place on my desk, as if to warn people: I do something real. Something important. Pay attention, there’s an O’Reilly book on it!
Argus was IA to me. I remember being crushed when I heard that they only hired folks with a masters degree or higher, thinking that ended my chance of working for them.
When Egreetings needed a company to help rearchitect their catalog, I fought long and hard to bring them on. They hired them, but I had just quit, ready for a change. I nearly changed my mind in hopes of working with them. I didn’t realize that chance wouldn’t come again. I did have the pleasure of meeting Chris Farnum, a brilliant IA who was coming onto the project as I faded into the sunset.
But I was again elated when Lou Rosenfeld invited me to join a group of IA’s for dinner in Boston at the first ASIS summit. I was so nervous, so sure I would say something foolish…. But somehow everything went smoothly, and I was so pleased that Lou was friendly and down-to-earth as well as smart and funny.
At the ACIA convention in La Jolla, I met Samantha Bailey– another witty insightful nice argonaut. I also got to meet Keith Instone, whom I’d admired for his work on usableweb.com forever. I was nerveous and I thought he was teasing me a little, until he gave me a goofy grin that put me at ease. I was beginning to wonder what was in the Ann Arbor water– not a mean Argonaut in the crowd. When I finally met Peter Morville at this year’s ASIS summit in San Francisco, I knew someone was doing genetic experiments in Michigan…. too much goodness for one small town in the midwest.
When Lou asked to interview me for ACIA, it was the biggest thrill of my career. I knew I was doing something right– Argus noticed me.
So yes, I’m very sad. Still, it’s important to keep perspective. It’s not the end of the world. No one died. We still have Peter and Lou and Sam and Keith and Chris and the rest of the argonauts. The quest for the golden fleece is ended, but the heros are still around. So while I am sad, I still have hope of working with these fine folks. I still look forward to the next book, the next Strange Connection, the next conference where Peter reminds us to slow down, Lou suggests we keep innovating…
Argus is still IA to me. But now I look forward to the next quest!
addendum: Peter Morville writes
…we found the golden fleece in the wonderful staff and clients and colleagues we’ve worked with over the years…and after a brief rest, I too am looking forward to the next quest.