Leaving Las Vegas

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“Now here it is: four years later. We are part of the landscape and a resource that is often referenced. Everywhere I go, folks refer to an article they read on Boxes and Arrows. We are expected to be here.”As we near the fourth anniversary of the crazy idea that Christina had, I find that it’s time to look to other priorities in my life.

When Christina first approached me four years ago, it was to be a writer for this new secret project of hers. I was honored and of course immediately said yes. Within a month of that request, she and George Olsen approached me about being co-editor, and with that I was pulled into the fold. Several people were working furiously trying to craft and shape and design a place that information architects could have a voice. This was to be a place to share and learn and not be encumbered by the baggage of academic language or obscurity. This was to be a place of practice, craft, and open arms as we sought to find our home in the greater universe of the user experience realm.

George and I worked diligently to define types of articles and features we wanted—what would be regular columns and what would be monthly features. We aspired to a lofty goal of two articles a week plus a monthly “Welcome.” On a volunteer basis with two editors, that was lofty indeed. We made lists of people whose writings – from articles, books, blogs, and list postings – that we liked, admired, or just plain suspected would be thought-provoking or controversial. We approached people to write for us.

When we launched at the 2002 IA Summit a few months later, it was with a full stable of articles, a planned calendar, and a queue full of works-in-progress. At the Summit, Christina said, “I’ll be happy if we last six months.” Little did we know. It was a few months later, when George resigned, that I took on the mantle of editor in chief.

Now here it is: four years later. We are part of the landscape and a resource that is often referenced. Everywhere I go, folks refer to an article they read on Boxes and Arrows. We are expected to be here. The last few years has seen a dot-com bust and gradual rebuilding. Folks have been out of work, freelanced, became entrepreneurs, and finally joined staffs and rebuilt organizations in-house. This cycle has also affected Boxes and Arrows. As a volunteer organization, we have seen the cycle of authors, of volunteers, and of readers rise and fall as people became employed again and became engaged in a myriad of activities. The landscape, too, has gotten more crowded as more people have found their voice to share. Yet, despite the pressures of jobs and life, we continue to have a flow of great people interested in writing. People want to share their experiences and their practice. I am continually amazed at how open and giving this community is.

Over the years I have had the pleasure of meeting some great folks and of working with very dedicated people. George Olsen, Ryan Olshavsky, Brenda Janish all gave their time and effort. Our current editorial staff—Dorelle Rabinowitz, Liz Danzico, Javier Velasco, Jim Kalbach, Jorge Arango, Elisa Miller, Pat Barford—all eager and working behind the scenes to keep the knowledge flowing. Our copywriters Lara Ferguson McNamara, Emily Wilska, and Kirsten Swearingen always ready at a moment’s notice to turn something around in 24 hours. Thanks.

It is with this reflection that I announce my resignation as editor-in-chief and the appointment of new leadership. It is time for new voices and fresh eyes.

I am confident that Boxes and Arrows is going to be in great hands and am proud to pass the baton to Liz Danzico as the new editor-in-chief. And Javier Velasco has accepted the first ever managing editor role.

I’d like to thank Christina for the opportunity that she gave me—without really knowing me at the time, and for our readers for being there and continuing to come back.

Most of all I’d like to thank all the authors that I have worked with over the years. Some of the work was hard (you know who you are) and some of it was easy, but because of all of it, I am a smarter person because of what you have shared.

Thanks for the privilege of working for you.

Erin Malone

Erin Malone is currently Director of Design, Platform group at Yahoo! Her team is currently responsible for developing tools, brand guidelines, cross-network research and a knowledge management system for Yahoo! Design Standards and Best Practices for the entire User Experience group. Before Yahoo!, she was a Product Design Director at AOL (America Online) and worked on such applications as AIM, WinAmp, AOL Radio, AOL Media Player, AOL Wallet, My AOL, various Community products and other things deemed important to the company. Prior to AOL, she was Creative Director at AltaVista, where she managed a team of Information Architects and Designers working on the AltaVista Live portal and various other web applications. Other work has included being the first and only IA/Interaction Designer at Zip2, working on the first generation Adobe web site, redesigning the San Jose Repertory Theatre web site, as well as designing GUI for several projects at Eastman Kodak company and early AOL Greenhouse partners. She has plied her trade in interactive and digital information spaces, including the web since 1993. Prior to that she worked in some crazy field called Advertising where she was indoctrinated into the world of Brand and Marketing.

Erin has a BFA in Communication Design from East Carolina University, Greenville NC and an MFA in Graphic/Information Design from the Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester NY.

As an editor she spends a lot of time reading these articles and wrangling writers. In her spare time, she cycles, takes a lot of photographs, plays guitar and keeps multiple websites including The Dr. Leslie Project a web interpretation of her Masters Thesis; a Photolog and Design Writings, in which she talks about Design, Design History, Information Architecture, Design Theory and Design Criticism.


  1. Thank you Erin for keeping the great articles coming, our community definitely appreciates your dedication and commitment to making B&A what is is today. I hope you’ll continue to contribute, your articles rock. I give ‘Planning your future’ to all my new hires.

    Also, welcome Liz! Christina is a smart gal and never fails to pick the smartest folk around. I’ll be looking forward to the new ideas and a always evolving Boxes & Arrows!

  2. Erin, I want to say that you’ve done an amazing job over the years and you have not only crafted a great web magazine but also contributed to the crafting and formalizing of the User Experience community. We are all indebted to the hard work you have done for us all. Thank you!

    Liz and Javier, you have some big boots to fill, but my experience with both of you tells me that you are up to the task … Congratulations and good luck!!!!

  3. Hello true believers!

    This is a very special article to me, because I am saying goodbye to the best partner in crime I’ve ever had, Erin Malone.

    Over the last four years, she has held the vision for what was Boxes and Arrows worthy, and what was not, while I frittered around coaxing people to write, fixing problems with Movabletype, paying for hosting, and generally acting like a publisher which seems to be one part visionary, three parts janitor.

    So if you love B&A, you should tell Erin you do, for she has been the real guilding light for our magazine.

    But the good news is we welcome a very special new Chief editor, Liz Danzico, who has been with B&A for years now, knows the past, but has big dreams for the future! And joining her is Javier Velasco, the managing editor, all fired up and ready to rumble!

    Almost a year ago we had a contest for a redesign. Now we’re looking at the new year, we’re close to the new design being completed, and a new backend as well with many new features. Watch this space in 2006– while we still all have day jobs, we’re still darn slow, but we’re still all committed to taking B&A to the next level.


    Christina Wodtke
    Publisher, Boxes and Arrows

  4. Hi Erin,

    So sad you’re leaving, since you’ve always been such a great supporter, editor, and writer…but also know that you’re leaving B&A in wonderfully capable hands. Welcome, Liz & Javier!

    Please don’t go totally away. I hope to see other articles from ya from time to time.



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