Slack Is Turning 10 Years Old, and Wow Has It Changed Everything


Lauren Goode: When you first started at WIRED back in the last century, there was no Slack.

Michael Calore: You mean we weren’t given any slack?

Lauren Goode: No. I mean, well, yes, but, I mean, you were not using real-time, nonstop chat apps to talk to people across the newsroom. You had to email them, you had to walk over to their desk and talk to their faces.

Michael Calore: Yes. We used email. We also used GChat for a while, but I think the big one was HipChat. It was the real stone age of journalism.

Lauren Goode: Would you say the introduction of Slack has been a net positive?

Michael Calore: Absolutely. For me, other than the browser, it’s the tool that I use the most, and I’m sure it is for many people.

Lauren Goode: It is for me too. Well, Slack is turning 10 years old this year. For this episode, I thought we’d bring in the person who chronicled it from the very beginning.

Michael Calore: I am very excited.

Lauren Goode: Let’s do it.

[Gadget Lab intro theme music plays]

Lauren Goode: Hi, everyone. Welcome to Gadget Lab. I’m Lauren Goode. I’m a senior writer at WIRED.

Michael Calore: I’m Michael Calore. I’m WIRED’s director of consumer tech and culture.

Lauren Goode: We’re joined this week by Mat Honan, the editor in chief of MIT Technology Review, and a former WIRED one. Hi, Mat. Thanks so much for joining us.

Mat Honan: I’m really excited to be here. Thanks so much for having me. I love this show, and to be here with both of you. It’s just great.

Michael Calore: We should note, Mat, that you helped start this show.

Mat Honan: Did I? Are you sure?

Michael Calore: I am. Yeah.

Lauren Goode: Tell the people. How did it happen?

Michael Calore: Well, the Gadget Lab started as a video show a very, very long time ago, and then it shut down. Mat Honan and I, when we were working together here at WIRED, sort of restarted it as an audio talk podcast like it is now.

Lauren Goode: Was it called Gadget Lab?

Michael Calore: It was, yes.

Lauren Goode: Mat, welcome back.

Mat Honan: Thank you. I think the last time I was here, I was talking about that specifically.

Michael Calore: It was, yes. That was our anniversary show.

Lauren Goode: All right. Well, let’s talk about Slack’s anniversary. Mat, one of the reasons we wanted to bring you back in, aside from the fact that we just adore you, is that you wrote the first big piece for WIRED about Slack. This was back in 2014, and your story was titled, I love this title, “The Most Fascinating Profile You’ll Ever Read About a Guy and His Boring Startup.” It really was fascinating. I mean, one, because Slack itself was a giant pivot from another tech product, and two, because it totally changed workplace communications. I don’t think I’m overstating that. First though, for people who aren’t on Slack, whose companies or jobs haven’t required them to use it, I was hoping that, Mat, you would describe it for people and its most simple and also sociological terms.



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