Quick thoughts on the closure of Gizmodo Australia, Kotaku Australia and Lifehacker Australia

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I contributed to all three titles for many years — so of course I have some thoughts on the announcement that they’ve been rather suddenly closed.

Warning: This post doesn’t have much to do about reviewing tech, as per the site tagline. But it does have to do with where that reviewing happens — or in this case, happened.

To be entirely honest, I’m on a short break right now, and I wasn’t meant to be writing anything at all.

And then, well, this happened.

Both in an “I’m not even supposed to be here today” sense, but also for other reasons.

And by this, just in case you didn’t read the subject line, Nine, owners of Pedestrian Media, announced today the closure of most of the Pedestrian Media properties, including Gizmodo Australia, Kotaku Australia and Lifehacker Australia.

Which sucks on so many levels. It sucks for the full-time employees there at the moment, many of whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the past few years, who now have to look for new jobs in a very difficult media landscape.

I can’t say I have any particular insight into how those publications were faring financially, though it’s clear and obvious to all that the local technology media landscape, especially for consumer publications, is hard.

I can’t present myself as an impartial and uninterested observer, either; as most will know I’ve been quite regularly contributing to those sites over the past couple of years, and quite frequently recently for all three, and most notably for Gizmodo.

Also, of course, I’ve had a long-standing relationship with those sites, both as a contributor and for a year or so as editor at Gizmodo Australia.

I can first recall being aware of the place when Nick Broughall was editor there, and also of course from when Angus Kidman was editor at Lifehacker; when Nick moved on I interviewed for the Gizmodo Australia editor’s job — which I didn’t initially get, trivia fans, though I did later land that job after some shifting in editorial and publisher roles there.

After I left, I contributed freelance pieces to them under multiple editors, plus a number of stints wearing the guest editor’s cap at Gizmodo Australia, Kotaku Australia and Lifehacker Australia.

Gizmodo Australia (and Kotaku and Lifehacker) provided a working and training ground for so many exceptional writers, as well as a great space to actually run with both useful and interesting stories — and some more oddball ones.

It’s the only place that ever let me test out testing out a car’s anti-crashing features (a Volvo, it didn’t in fact crash but we filmed it) but also to find out about home-made bacon milkshakes (not as bad as they sound), soda stream Vegemite (way, WAY worse than it sounds), what happens when you carry an inflatable shark on Sydney’s train systems (it made sense at the time), what happens when you put AirPods Pro through a washing machine (they survive — and still work to this day!), the wonders of Godzilla films, what Australia’s copyright laws let you do in the digital age, the lessons I learned from Sesame Street that apply to technology, why all gamers should be interested in retro gaming, how Mario is actually a zombie… and so very, very many more besides. I would link to all of those, but it’s very likely that those links would all too quickly become either dead or redirects to content that isn’t mine.

The Pedestrian sites (which in my brain will pretty much always be “the Allure sites”) were a wonderful and open cultural canvas that every single editor and contributor helped build over many years.

And now it’s gone.

It strikes me that I might be able to lay claim to being the longest-term contributor across all three sites — the first piece I can find I wrote for them was 15 years ago, the last was just last week! — but it was of course a site built on the contributions of so many great writers, journalists and of course everyone else who ran the actual business side of operations.

So what next? I have no insight about what happens to the content that’s there, though I can’t imagine that much of it lasts there for much longer as a standalone site, and unlike when CNET Australia folded, there’s not a parent site for that content to travel to — while Gizmodo/Kotaku/Lifehacker do still exist as US sites, they were always a brand licensing deal with some rights to grab AU content if they wished, not a corporate parent — so I can only imagine that most of that work will simply vanish whenever the servers are shut off.

From what I understand the existing staff don’t have access any more, so that might not be that long.

For my part, I’ve now got some freelance capacity that’s opened up and a need to put food on my table, so I’m open to offers — and I’ll keep producing content here at ART and on YouTube as well.

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Lead Image: Lost Places, CC by 2.0 licence

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