On accidentally starting a newsletter

This was written after I migrated to Ghost. That turned out to have its own problems; I now use a static site generator I wrote myself.

I've struggled with my online-writing toolchain. My ideal tools would:

  1. Make writing and publishing new things easy;
  2. Help me prevent data loss;
  3. Make it possible to make natemeyvis.com more than a collection of writings.

I have tried WordPress, hand-rolling my own site, and many things in between. Long story short: I tried Ghost and it stuck.

In my hurry to make the default design palatable, though, I didn't notice that I left in a "subscribe" link. And people subscribed. Hello, and thanks! I'm grateful for the chance to write for all of you (and the whole Internet).

I plan to keep going here indefinitely, regardless of subscriber count. My views about this, I think, invert a common way of thinking about public writing.

People tend to say that if an Internet writing project peters out, it's (1) a failure of the project but (2) a consequence of normal, healthy life progress. Both of those seem wrong to me here. First, I don't think that the end of a writing project is intrinsically regrettable. (Most projects are supposed to end!) I worry that valuable work goes unpublished because we don't have better infrastructure (including social infrastructure) for projects longer than an article but shorter than a "forever blog."

But--and here I'm only talking about myself--I disagree with (2) also. Think of this site as the output of a funnel with various intellectual inputs. The funnel requires various kinds of intellectual effort; time spent refining and writing; and the desire to share the outputs.

Many intellectual experiences will not make it out of the funnel. Sometimes essays just don't come together; many thoughts are better left private; and even more thoughts are simply not worth sharing. Yet there is no part of that pipeline that I'd want to be temporary or optional (for me, that is)--the consumption, effort, synthesis, and sharing all seem clearly better to be doing than not doing.

So! I'm here to stay, if all goes well. Like Ben Thompson, I'm thinking about this as a Web site that derivatively has a newsletter, but I'm humbled by the thought of people reading this in any form. As always: if you aren't sure whether to email me, you probably should.

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