There are some things about which we have no control. These are the things that Magic players have always, and will always, resent about the world: the inability to draw the critical land, the bad or unexpected matchup, being hated out of a Rochester draft by the clueless recipients of broken sealed decks, the closing of The Dojo. Ten months ago, I had my heart and my life torn out when said Web site ceased publication for a time; this, I eventually came to understand, was a product of market pressures, good and bad timing, good and bad ideas, and a thousand other factors. A lot of money and hard work had been put into The Dojo, yet it was torn out from under the feet of the Magic community with no warning.
As most of you know, a few months later, a reinvigorated The Dojo, backed by the acquisition of the former Psylum, Inc. by USA Networks (yes, THAT USA Networks) brought us the site once again, led first by my good friend Tuna Hwa, then by the final Sensei, Christopher Senhouse.
I speak to you today not as a former editor of this once great Web site, but as a concerned member of your Internet Magic community.
According to a very blunt note on the top of The Dojo front page (NOT, I assure you, placed there by your Christopher Senhouse or any other Sensei), The Dojo will cease operations shortly. Though this exit appears final, at least the good people at USA Networks (yes THAT USA Networks) have had a courtesy that I never gave you – of notice.
The Dojo was not a site like the one you are reading now, not like the ones to which I submitted this letter. It was not, and would never be, a site driven by Magic card sales (though for a time it tried to be a serious commercial endeavor). But The Dojo was the rock of your Magic community on the Internet, it was your digital history book, your gathering ground, and the labor of love of one Frank Kusumoto. The Dojo is dying for real this time, I fear – but the wisdom of The Dojo doesn’t need to.
What I propose is that for the next two weeks, the next month – however long we still have our rock, history book, spell shop, and CHURCH – we gather those things we love, and save them onto our own zip disks, hard drives, and floppies. As an Internet Magic columnist, I have already had some problems with finding strategy archives for the purposes of research, and I am quite saddened by the erosion of many old links, such as to old Decks to Beat and Deck Histories and Concepts… Nonetheless, the accumulated knowledge of the past two or three years, the years of highest Dojo traffic, are still available, and free. Before you no longer have the chance, I urge you to go through the old Editor’s Choices, pointing pictures of an aggressive Gary Wise, and Jamie Wakefield columns that would otherwise never again see the light of your computer screens, and save them.
Save all the things you love and hate and want to remember. Save the things you would otherwise forget. Use the Search box. Find your favorite writers’ best articles, whether or not they are actually archived in some back page; work for them. Find the first columns that made Anthony Alongi the voice of the group game. Grab hold of that one decklist of your own that got posted on some bygone strategy section. Somehow uncover Nate Clarke’s two-character tournament report.
The Dojo deserves it.
But hell, things change. It isn’t the end of the world, or the end of Internet Magic life. We will still have these sites, in many ways The Dojo’s children, all equipped with dedicated editors and webmasters who also love this game. And we will have all that you have saved onto your own computers, all those things you found and love and refuse to forget.
If there is one legacy that we can take from The Dojo, our former home, let it be a new community, with Magic players trading old The Dojo articles like mp3s on Napster. Let’s not let this thing we all once loved die forever. Let’s log onto our instant messengers or the IRC, and ask for, and give out, our favorite old links. Let’s let one loss bring us together in a different, meaningful, way.
Is this a violation of some intellectual property right or other? To be honest, I dropped out of law school before taking the appropriate class, so I couldn’t tell you. Either way, I am fairly certain that with the closing of The Dojo’s doors, no one is going to come after you for access to John Shuler’s fake Mid-Atlantic Regionals report from 1997… Not with a cease and desist order, anyway.
That’s all I have to say about that.