Happy Anniversary, Dear Defense Tech

Three years ago today, I made one of the better decisions of my life. Guys like Josh Marshall and Glenn Reynolds and Gene Healy had convinced me to start a blog. But I wasn't sure what direction I wanted to take the site in -- a general-purpose NoahShachtman.com, where I could spout off about whatever, or a more focused site, where I could hone in on my emerging military technology beat.happyanniversary.jpgFortunately, many friends and many relatives talked me into the right choice. Taking a page from Declan McCullagh, I called the site Defense Tech. And on January 6, 2003, the site went live.With a war fast approaching, the site quickly gained traction. My little excursion to some of New Mexico's nuclear facilities generated additional interest. Within a few months, a couple of major media organizations were approaching me about buying up the site.The talks went nowhere, though. And, once "mission accomplished" was declared in Iraq, traffic to the site dipped. By January 2004, only a thousand people a day were stopping by. I thought more than once about giving Defense Tech up. Without encouragement from Phil Carter and others, I probably would have quit.By the summer, however, things started turning around. Constant links from folks like Alan Boyle, Xeni Jardin, and Joel Johnson kept people coming to the site -- almost four thousand, daily. And then, the acqusition talks started picking up again.I had known -- and been impressed by -- Military.com Chief Chris Michel for years. That respect shot through the roof once I saw him in deal-making action. It took just a couple of days to agree to join up with him and Military.com.Another good move. Traffic went up to more than ten thousand people per day. Guys with stars and oak leaves on their shoulders began writing into the site. And, a whole crew of mega-talented writers started contributing to Defense Tech -- superstars like Jeffrey Lewis, Dan Dupont, David Hambling, Catherine Macrae Hockmuth, Jason Sigger, Murdoc, and David Axe.The Military.com deal also let me focus more on long-form, magazine work. Which lead me to high-speed pursuits across Chicago's West Side. To the Army's drone school at Ft. Huachuca, Arizona. And, of course, to Iraq and the Baghdad Bomb Squad. Thanks to Chris Anderson, Adam Rogers, and the rest of the Wired magazine crew for the opportunites. And extra-special thanks to my wife-to-be, Elizabeth Visceglia, for putting up with all those trips, with all those nights in front of the keyboard, and with all my many mood swings.Today, Defense Tech has nearly thirty thousand people visiting daily. You rock, all of you. Your support means the world to me. I can't wait to see what happens in the next three years.

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