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So long, everyone, and thanks for the great opportunity, SDN

Rob Swenson
Rob Swenson

A confession: When I started writing articles for the SDN Communications blog more than eight years ago, I didn’t know much about broadband technology.

Initially, I was among those who thought sound waves from a wireless phone call bounced from one tower to the next until the transmission reached its destination. I didn’t realize there was high-quality fiber buried under towers that routed and actually carried most of a call’s journey.

I wasn’t familiar with telecommunications jargon, either. I didn’t know, for example, that in the broadband industry, MPLS wasn’t an abbreviation for Minneapolis. It’s short for Multiprotocol Label Switching, a common routing technology.

Since mid-2012, I’ve gotten to interview a lot of telecommunications experts and share what they have to say. I still don’t feel very knowledgeable, but I take comfort in realizing that communications technology is constantly evolving and that I’m not alone in trying to keep up. I’m going to keep that in mind­ – and hopefully keep learning – as I move on.

The time has come for me to free up more time for personal projects and move closer to retirement. So this is my 695th and final blog for SDN.

Being part of the blog-writing team at SDN has been a great experience. In addition to getting the opportunity to talk experts with SDN and other organizations, I’ve gotten to write a lot of fun articles – columns that featured interesting people and events.

When Vernon Brown hired me to write for SDN, he knew I wasn’t a techie. Fortunately, that wasn’t the kind of writer he wanted. Vernon, the vice president of marketing and community relations for SDN, wanted someone who could interview experts, review data, break down some of the complexities, and present useful information in interesting ways for busy business people to read.

That’s essentially what I’d been trying to do on other subjects for about 32 years in the newspaper industry. Vernon knew all about the challenges of reporting and writing news. Before he veered off into his impressive business career, he was a top-notch reporter for KELOLAND News in Sioux Falls.

I thank him for reaching out to me when I decided to leave the Argus Leader and Sioux Falls Business Journal, and for convincing me to write for SDN. For more than eight years now, I’ve been fortunate to have SDN as the anchor client for my freelance work. I write and edit for a few other businesses and organizations, but SDN has been there from the start.

After joining the company as a contract employee, I learned that interviewing broadband experts was not much different than interviewing business or political people, except that I might have to ask them the same question two or three times. That wasn’t because the person being interviewed didn’t answer the question; it was to help me understand the answer.

Amy Bennett Smolik, who is well known in the Sioux Falls’ business and marketing community, is taking over my duties as part of SDN’s writing team. Actually, Amy has been part of the team for several months. She’s already written a number of good columns. Her work will appear more often in the future.

Amy and I have been crossing paths for more than 20 years and occasionally have consulted with each other on projects. I know she’ll do a great job; Vernon was wise to recruit her.

In addition to Vernon, I want to thank my other colleagues at SDN, especially those in the marketing department, past and present. Current staffers Andrea Leesch and Nikki Gronli deserve special mention. They are talented, hard-working women who have helped make work fun and satisfying.

I’d also like to thank CEO Mark Shlanta, who is one of the best business leaders in the Sioux Falls region. He also might be the most civic-minded ­– a virtue that is collectively embraced by SDN’s staff.

I also thank other members of SDN’s executive team and the company’s front-line staffers for nearly always taking the time to talk to me and for exercising patience in helping me learn. I’ve picked up a lot of useful information about technology, cybersecurity and business practices. I intend to keep following this blog in the future to keep learning.

Thanks, also, to you, the readers. If it wasn’t for you, I’d never have gotten this great opportunity. So long.