When I started writing on this site, my intention was clear. I’d dive deep into topics that interest me and share my thoughts and findings with the world.
Since then, I’ve stayed true to that mission, but I have felt something missing. It’s dialogue. I love writing, but even more, I love hearing back from people about the memories my writing reminded them of, or perhaps some angle I completely missed in my research.
I’ve thought about setting up comments. I’ve pondered the possibility of leveraging social media more as a form of discourse. However, again and again, those solutions seemed wrong. They come with too much baggage.
With email, our contract is simple. I send a message, and you receive it. You send a message, and I receive it. Email may be old-fashioned and limited. Our correspondence may have to live alongside an inbox full of spam or transactional notifications. But unlike social media, there is no algorithm mediating our conversation to drive engagement or ad revenue. There are no random passersby prone to taking our conversation out of context, trolling us or worse, attacking us.
Craig Mod said it best in his article on Wired, The ‘Future Book’ Is Here, but It’s Not What We Expected.
Almost every writer or artist I know has a newsletter. One way to understand this boom is that as social media has siloed off chunks of the open web, sucking up attention, the energy that was once put into blogging has now shifted to email.
He takes it further and quotes Robin Sloan:
We simply cannot trust the social networks, or any centralized commercial platform, with these cliques and crews most vital to our lives, these bands of fellow-travelers who are---who must be---the first to hear about all good things. Email is definitely not ideal, but it is: decentralized, reliable, and not going anywhere---and more and more, those feel like quasi-magical properties.
I don’t think I could put it any better. Just like creating this site has allowed me to take back a piece of the internet from the internet giants, I’d like to take back the conversations with all of you creative, inspirational people.
So, I invite you to take part in my experiment. Right now, I will start slowly with an email every month, but perhaps I’ll adjust it in a quarter or two. I’ve been mulling some exciting projects and ideas for articles, and I want you to hear about them first before I unleash them into the public.
I’ll be sending out the first issue in a few days. To those of you who already signed up, thank you. I’ll do my best to make it worth your while.
Thanks to Q for reading drafts of this.