Thinking about HEY World
Today the folks at HEY Email launched HEY World, a dead-simple blogging solution. The long and short of it is that you write an email from your HEY account, address it to email@example.com, and hit “Send” to publish your words to the web. It arrived much sooner than I expected, having been introduced as an experiment just last week. It also has me considering the notion that blogging really is just like sending an email to the world and what that idea means for HeyDingus.
Some background: I’ve been an avid follower of Basecamp, the people behind HEY, for several years. Their project management platform, which we use at work, is great and has made me reconsider the value of asynchronous communication (like email!). I’ve read books by their cofounders, Jason and David, and largely agree with the way they see the world. When HEY Email launched last year, I eagerly awaited my chance to sign up and pay money for an email address. Who does that?!
I have opinions on HEY Email as a product that are mostly good, but they’ll have to wait. Today is about the entirely new blogging platform that they added to an email service (for no extra cost, which feels good).
HeyDingus, too, is a new project. I published my first blog post just over two months ago after spending several weeks “building” the website. I really enjoyed learning the ins and outs of crafting a Squarespace site and tweaking the fonts, colors, link style, and other visual flair you see here. But that time spent adjusting each page, getting the footer right, purchasing and setting up the domain…it wasn’t spent writing, which was the whole point. Further, it made me think about this blog as something I had to live up to. It was to be my public home on the internet, so I wanted all the clutter put away and the best decorations out for people who stopped by. My writing had to earn its place on the pedestal￼ that I had created in my mind.
I think that’s partly why I’ve written here less than I thought I would. But then along came HEY World, and now I’m thinking differently. When Jason said, “Email is the internet’s oldest self-publishing platform,” it clicked with me. I love email. I feel great about working through my inbox each day and writing thought-out replies in a timely manner. I’ve been commended time after time about how people can rely on getting taken care of if they send me an email. So, what if I think less about writing an article for HeyDingus, and more about writing an email to readers?
People don’t expect perfect grammar and punctuation in an email. There are no fancy footnotes1 in an email, just postscripts. Adding an image is as simple as dropping it in the composing window. Emails are written to be replied to, not hewn from stone, and the conversation continues. You get an email from someone who cares about you.
I’ve spent time tonight reading the first HEY World posts from people all over the internet, many of whom say it’s their first time writing a public blog. It’s inspiring to see those people put a bit of themselves out into the world, just like I am, and feel empowered by a simple piece of software. While I don’t intend to switch to blogging on HEY World — since I do appreciate the ability to tweak, categorize, and have static pages alongside an ongoing flow of blog posts — I have to admit that I admire its simplicity. And I’m feeling a little silly about sleepless nights spent creating three — yes, three — separate sites before landing on the one you see now. But that’s a story for another time.
Everyone says sheer volume will make you a better writer. For now, I’ll think about writing this blog as if I’m writing an email to you, the reader, and do my best to simply write more. And to get my words on the web, I’ll copy the Markdown text from iA Writer and archive the draft, then create a new post on Squarespace, then paste in the text, then check the URL, tags, and categories, then finally hit “Publish”. Or if I were using HEY World, I would just hit “Send”.
Footnote support was a sticking point when I was selecting a blogging platform. Though I like them, they’re more trouble than they’re worth and leave me dealing with HTML rather than plain text when I use them.↩︎