‘Oh God, It’s Raining Newsletters’
Craig Mod, newsletter author extraordinaire:
A lot of this newsletter writing is happening, probably, because the archives aren’t great. Tenuousness unlocks the mind, loosens tone. But the archival reality might be just the opposite of that common perception: These newsletters are the most backed up pieces of writing in history, copies in millions of inboxes, on millions of hard drives and servers, far more than any blog post. More robust than an Internet Archive container. LOCKSS to the max. These might be the most durable copies yet of ourselves. They’re everywhere but privately so, hidden, piggybacking on the most accessible, oldest networked publishing platform in the world. QWERTYUIOP indeed.
I’ve looked down on newsletters as compared to blogs — I’ve seen them as unnecessarily messy, impermanent, and invading of a space where I go for work more often than pleasure — and but Craig has a point here. I’m still in favor of my writing’s first home being on the open web, but I’m coming around to the idea that there’s room for it to also be published through email if that’s where someone wants to find it. Indeed, I have been partial to the notion that blog posts are best seen as emails to the world. Back in March of 2021, I questioned, “So, what if I think less about writing an article for HeyDingus, and more about writing an email to readers?”
Here’s Craig again with a clincher footnote:
And so much better than just publishing on my website. Newsletter subscriptions are the push that RSS promised but never became. And CMD-R to reply is the best, most intuitive commenting system I’ve yet seen.
Getting comments from readers really is the best part about blogging.
For a while now, I’ve made it easy to get my blog posts delivered by email through the excellent Feedrabbit service. But those emaials come from Feedrabbit, not from me. I don’t have any access to my readers there, not their addresses, or even a subscriber count. I do include a one-click link to email me at the bottom of each blog post so they can easily reply, but it all still feels one step removed. Craig’s essay has me reconsidering a service like Buttondown that can, at the very least, slurp up my RSS feed and deliver its posts by email, but with some management and personalization tools at my disposal.
Or, who knows, maybe I’ll move forward with my idea to consolidate all my online writing over to Micro.blog, which offers its own posts-as-emails and posts-as-a-newsletter-digest options.
I didn’t think reading this article was going to shift me over to the pro-newsletter camp, but here we are.
P.S. I love how Craig’s webpage titles — the ones you see in your browser tab — are labeled “Article Title — by Craig Mod”. Most sites include the name of the website, like The New York Times, Daring Fireball, or HeyDingus, for example. But Craig gets his byline front and center. Pretty handy since that whole title, “by Craig Mod” and all, is taken along for the ride with most rich links.