A Good Editor

January 17th, 2009  |  Published in etc

Gina Trapani is hanging it up at Lifehacker.

I am not a particularly big fan of Lifehacker. Not that I don’t like the site for some specific reason, but I feel the same aversion toward it that I do all the “productivity” sites, and it bears the same burden all Gawker sites do, which is the unpleasant sense of reptilian calculation lurking behind it. We can save that for another day, I guess. One thing Lifehacker does not have in common with most of its corporate siblings is Gina Trapani, who brought a certain friendliness or warmth to the site.

When I see sites that claim some sort of topical affinity with “lifehacking” or “productivity hacking,” I think “sausage party.” It gets tedious after a while, either because it’s impossible to believe people are doing what they claim to do without being medicated for OCD by concerned family members or employers, or because a handful are total shits to people who don’t know what they know.

Gina kept Lifehacker light, somehow. Every time I took a look, the discussions felt like real discussions–a cooperative endeavor–not a tedious collection of parallel droning or yet another place for assorted purveyors of productivity or technical orthodoxies to belittle each other. Gina clearly understands that’s part of what made the site good:

It’s the conversations that make Lifehacker magical. While lots of web site editorial tears stuff to pieces, my goal with Lifehacker was to help our readers out, make their day a little easier.

Putting Lifehacker side by side with just about any other Gawker site besides, perhaps, Consumerist, made the difference in editorial voice stand out even more. I don’t much like the culture surrounding the topic she was pushing, but I admire Gina Trapani.

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