Thank you for signing up. I’m not sure yet precisely what this newsletter is going to become, but for a while now I’ve been feeling the need for a Twitter-like way to say stuff to the world that isn’t Twitter. For now I am just gonna type and see what happens.
Nickd’s recent letter Escape from Hashtagistan, and the links therein, are probably what finally convinced me, but there have been several other nudges. I spent half of last year developing a talk about how creative people interact with the wider world, called Your App Is Good And You Should Feel Good; all the research and thinking that went into it left me with a much-diminished view of the healthiness of social network sites as one’s primary way of connecting to people. And CGP Grey’s The Professional Sharer reminded me that there is actually a pretttty good technology out there for putting strings of text in front of people who want them, and isn’t bound to mutate over time in pursuit of some company’s business interests and at the expense of its users — email!
Essentially, I’d like a way to say things out loud that encourages thoughtful, joyful conversations, and it is starting to look like email is a better way to do that. I’d like a better way to start a few deep conversations in private, not just lots of frustratingly superficial ones in public. So maybe sending out a letter once in a while will fill a need that was too often served by cramming my thoughts and conversation prompts into tweets.
My brain likes obsessive phases, and right now my musical obsession is Different Every Time by Robert Wyatt. This is a 146-minute tour through Wyatt’s wild, weird, five-decade career. Somehow, the huge range of idioms, genres, and eras flows together as if the ultimate goal of all the prog and jazz bands, avant-garde solo projects, and hip guest appearances was to craft this compilation album. It’s a journey of an album — dreamlike, charming, unassailably cool, and consistently sincere.
This is a weird project and it feels really vain to do. A lot of people who would enjoy sending out newsletters probably don’t because it seems like something you do to get ““““engagement”””” for your ““““““personal brand””””””. But it seems like a decent way to say hi and let people know what’s on your mind. I hope we can get to a point where it is utterly normal to send out a newsletter to your friends. Thanks for reading, and thanks to the dear friends who encouraged me to try this out.