calendars = the new newsletters?

Vernal equinox

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…it looks like more ~serious~ news orgs are looking at, yes, calendars as the “next great online publishing tool,” according to this Poynter piece .

Two great highlighted examples: The Minneapolis Star Tribune using calendar invites to share timely local election stories, and also, the NYT’s space calendar

Oh God, It’s Raining Newsletters

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Newsletters and newsletter startups these days are like mushrooms in an open field after a good spring rain. I don’t know a single writer who isn’t newslettering or newsletter-curious, and for many, the newsletter is where they’re doing their finest public work.

But, why?! Why all this newslettering?

Aside from the sense of ownership and distance from social media, let me explain why I’m so attracted to them:

In parallel with my walking, these past six years I’ve written another newsletter called The Roden Explorers Club. And of all of my publishing online — either through this site or publications, on social networks, in blips or blops or bloops or 10,000 word digressions on the sublimity of Japanese pizza — almost nothing has surpassed the intimacy and joy and depth of conversation I’ve found from publishing Roden.

This intimacy — both from my side and that of the recipients — seems to engender a kind of vulnerability that I haven’t found elsewhere online. But the intimacy is not surprising: the conversation is one-to-one even though the distribution is one-to-many.

Newsletters Are Immortal

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I’ve been writing newsletters for the past couple decades. Which means I’ve seen them die and come back about eight times. And each time, their supposed death comes as just as much of a shock to everyone as it did the time before. They never died. They’re the best communication tool you have. And they are built upon the one internet platform that, unlike all the rest, never lets you down.

The 6 Ps of Newsletters

Personalized: We complain a lot about the quality of our social media feeds. In fact, aside from United Airlines and that Solo movie, we probably complain about them more than anything else. The feeds themselves are bad, and to make matters worse, everyone wants a piece of your bad feed: The advertisers, the person you barely know who always comments on your family photos, Putin. Left in the hands of an algorithm (that is at once a technical marvel, and a complete asshole) the feeds are always unsatisfactory. Your email inbox feed is controlled by a human (and even better, that human is you). Your email inbox is the one feed over which you have absolute control.

What Is a TinyLetter? Like Ye Olde Blog, but Less Public

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We now find ourselves in the era of the personal email newsletter, an almost retro delivery system that blurs borders between the public and the private, and mashes up characteristics of the analog and digital ages.

Thanks to, among other services, TinyLetter, a division of the email marketer MailChimp, people who want to apprise a subscriber base of their thoughts and goings-on have a new, straight-to-inbox outlet.

…There is an old-fashioned aspect to the TinyLetter. Entries can be archived for public consumption, effectively turning it into a blog. But some writers, such as Ms. Shane, do not save them for posterity, so the only way to read certain newsletters is to subscribe and receive them at the moment they are sent.

Thus they hark back to the ephemerality of pre-internet media consumption, when one likely had to buy a periodical to read that specific issue or watch a TV show in its broadcast time slot or else risk missing it forever.