I sit here on a Sunday morning, sipping my coffee and thinking about the future of INN. Although it’s lots of fun to dream about the future, I’ve always believed that it is necessary to look back, whenever you want to move forward, so let’s take a trip down memory lane.
Humble Beginnings and a Simple Vision
Two years ago, when I approached Nehkara with the wild idea of building INN, I shared a simple vision: I wanted to give him, and other great content writers in the community, a platform for their incredible work. Someplace where they could have more control and flexibility than in the forums. Someplace they could call a home for their content in the growing community.
Before long, many more contributors followed and, with them, many more ideas about what INN is. We’re a podcast! We create videos! We should be a forum! We need to build applications! What about products? Contests! Events! Livestreams! Liveblogging! And every step of the way, while our content and capabilities were expanded, our audience grew and grew.
At first, I was reticent to stifle this creative energy. But as time went by the complexity and expense of maintaining the technology began to overwhelm. The server was scaled up, and a content distribution network added to handle the demand for heavy multimedia files. We added plugins, customizations, and the navigation expanded to accommodate whole new categories of content.
By necessity we added Patreon to help us cover the hard monthly costs of technology and used IndieGoGo to finance some of the more ambitious endeavors, like a trip to Europe for members of the team. Neither of these sources of funding provided nearly enough money to cover the out-of-pocket costs of multiple team members contributing to our shared success. Surprisingly, to my knowledge, money was one thing we never really bickered about.
At the same time, pressures outside of INN began to chip away at the friendships growing within. More than one team member experienced health issues, relationship problems, career complexities, and rising discontent about what our strategy should be.
And I, as the would-be leader of this merry band, was no exception. My career and my health were huge distractions throughout 2016 while the little Star Citizen blog Nehkara and I set out to create slowly unraveled. As the demands on the server grew, crashes went from unusual to frequent. With each new outage, the team’s justifiable frustration increased. Meanwhile, my previous reticence to stifle creative ideas became resentment at myself and others, for letting things get so out of control.
Last night, I removed every piece of content from INN attributed to someone from the legacy team who requested their content removed. I also took down any content belonging to someone I suspect would prefer it that way.
To all of my former colleagues at INN, I wish you good luck on your continued journey, but I’m sure you will be successful. Your energy and passion for the game we all love is your greatest asset. I wish I could have done better for you but it is what it is.
Time for a Fresh Beginning
Take a deep breath; it’s time to start fresh. Sometimes the mission of an organization genuinely crystallizes in the forge of unexpected adversity.
INN approaches her second birthday after the holidays and, as they say, the show must go on. During the next few weeks, you can expect to see fresh new content on Star Citizen, CIG, and the community. New contributors are joining the team and with them great new ideas about what this site is, and where we’d like to take it.
As of now, the navigation and homepage have been drastically simplified while we focus on our roots in the written content while providing a platform for other content creators in the community who prefer audio, video, and applications to express their love of the game.
As part of this process, we’d like to hear from you, our readers. What was it about INN 1.0 that you liked? What did you dislike? What are the gaps in coverage of Star Citizen that you’d like to see filled and where do you think there’s already enough?
For my part, I’d like to see my early vision continue, with a couple of slight tweaks:
INN is a collection of content creators and community members who share a passion for Star Citizen, and the space simulator genre. Our mission is to provide thoughtful, meaningful, high-quality, and accurate content about Star Citizen, CIG, and the community of stakeholders around them while supporting one another in the process of achieving this endeavor.
One last note on ownership: Part of my egalitarian vision for INN was to keep things light and friendly. Not too much like a business, which is why we never ultimately decided to force everyone to sign contracts with the organization regarding copyrights.Sadly, this decision has lead to another painful lesson learned.
Going forward, so no individual or group can gut INN and hurt their fellow collaborators by withdrawing all of their content, the rules have to change. Although creators will continue to own the copyright on the content they contribute, granting INN an enduring, royalty-free license to publish as long as we want, is a prerequisite to participation in this collective.