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Exit Strategy

In 1993, Washington DC’s fertile indie rock scene gave birth to a band called The Dismemberment Plan. Musically, it skirted genre conventions inconspicuously. Lyrically, it found wisdom and poetry in the commonplace. The whole package was a rare, fun, magical blend of sophisticated and approachable, and the band built a respectable and devoted following with it.

Ten years later, not long after releasing its fourth and arguably best album, The Dismemberment Plan decided to call it quits. No one seemed to see it coming. There was no acrimony between members, there were no lucrative solo careers looming, and there was naught but effusive praise from both the fans and the critics. The band just realized it had run its course.

I was among those who were disappointed by the breakup, but I still thought it was a brave move. How often do people realize a good thing is over before it starts to go sour? We feel safe in the familiar, even as it poisons us.

I love the web, and for years, my enthusiastic curiosity about what it could be introduced me to wonderful people and brought me great opportunities. When that curiosity began its inevitable decline, I was too focused on maintaining my status quo to notice. It wasn’t until my work began to noticeably suffer that I realized what was happening.

Curiosity is a funny thing; you can’t learn new things without it, but you also can’t really control it. Once it has fled your comfort zone, you’re doomed to keep repeating yourself until you follow it.

My curiosity has since led me elsewhere. It turns out my experience with user-centered design is valuable in the gaming world. I don’t really know what I’m doing, which is pretty much the point. It can be frustrating, but it has yet to be boring.

The web probably hasn’t seen the last of me, but I’m glad to say that if I eventually return, it won’t just be a homecoming. I’ll be looking for new rooms in that old house.