AOL announced Friday that it will be reorganizing its sites—The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) and Joystiq brands will be retired and archived as subdomains on other AOL properties. TUAW will shut down on February 3rd, 2015.
Particularly keenly felt by the Apple watching community will be the loss of TUAW (pronounced "too-ah" sort of like a Marine). First posting Apple news starting in December 2004, the site will close on Tuesday, February 3rd—the archives will remain as a section of Engadget. Many former TUAW writers have gone on to other notable gigs: Christina Warren is now at Mashable for example, and also hosts the Overtired podcast with another alum, digital tinkerer Brett Terpstra. Other notables include Nik Fletcher of RealMac Software, Namesake comic writer Megan Lavey-Heaton, and many others, including yours truly.
I got my start at TUAW in 2009 after making friends with Mike Rose during Macworld 2008. It was the first "official" writing I'd done for any website, and I was thrilled to pieces to get a chance to contribute to a site I'd always enjoyed reading. Then I was invited to come on the Talkcast, which was the podcast recorded Sunday evenings. I'd never been "live" on a podcast before (I sent recorded audio to a Lost podcast but never recorded with other people). I then went from regular guest to occasional host to full time host, and I covered Macworld, CES, organized meetups in Portland, and so much more all in the name of TUAW.
I had business cards and wonderful people to work with. I learned so much more than I imagined possible. I met amazing people and made great friends. And for any website to last ten years is notable, especially since starting a website in the mid-00s still seemed like a crazy idea. Add in the purchase and reorganization under AOL and TUAW's survival is even more remarkable. It also makes its demise during Apple's largest success even more disappointing.
One of the best TUAW moments I had was at Macworld, when a woman came up to say she was a fan of the site. She was new to the Mac but read everything because even though she didn't understand it, she'd remember that she read it and go back when it made more sense. She thought the site was useful even though she was a new user, and all the power users she knew told her they read it all the time.
TUAW was a fantastic resource for all sorts of people. Unfortunately it seems that since Apple is a bit less niche now, lots of people can get Apple news from much more mainstream sources. For those in the community, it's another loss in the face of Apple's gains. We'll miss you TUAW. I'm certain there will be many drinks raised (or poured out) in your honor.