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Oh God, It's Raining Newsletters (craigmod.com)
209 points by cmod 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 143 comments

There's a whole slew of content being created in all forms, from newsletters, blog posts, books, podcasts, music, video games, video on demand and live video. A lot of it is actually really high-quality content. We're being inundated with too much good stuff. I see all these newsletters in my inbox I don't have time to read that I want to. Tv shows, youtube videos I want to watch but don't have time for. I'm listening to a podcast when I cook while I have a game on and a book in my bag.

It's like a really good problem to have tbh, but there's a problem with managing this. This week there was a post about how to pick a good non-fiction book. Figuring out what the best content for me for the time I have is the problem. It's a problem we all have right now.

Also that was a really well written post, a love letter to newsletters. I really enjoyed it.

This is a major factor of the "Ratings Problem" where only 4- and 5-star ratings signify quality which people commonly overlook. [0] I'm only interested in critically acclaimed non-fiction books because anything less and I'm down to the quality I might find in a blog post... Which might still great, but there's the time I allocate for blogs, and the time I allocate for books.

There's a part of me which harbors great sadness over the amount of historical art such as music and games which get completely ignored by the public with its ephemeral tastes. So as a natural reaction I've become an amateur art historian, spending lots of time going back and playing old games (not hard because I grew up on retro), listening to old music, watching old films... then spending time to learn about the people and effort behind these works of art. I even took a film history class.

I have books from the 1600's on my reading list. Some of them require learning another language which at some point I will have to set aside the time to do.

So how the hell am I going to have time to appreciate the cornucopia of art being thrust at me today from all directions?

It seems today you have to make the choice of appreciating the here and now vs appreciating the past. If you aren't an archivist or historian chances are you simply won't have the time to go back and explore.

And that's worrisome, because whereas the pace of masterpieces being released throughout history has been quite slow and manageable, presently I feel like I consume several masterpieces a year across several mediums.

All of this amazing content will be lost forever inside the noosphere, and the fantasy of living forever through your art and contributions to society is becoming more and more unattainable.

[0] https://xkcd.com/1098/

While it may seem new, this has been a problem for a very long time. It’s the same thing Seneca was complaining about when he popularized the phrase “ars longa, vita brevis” back in 1st century Rome. And that wasn’t original either, but a translation of Hippocrates.

It's undeniable that the pace of creation of masterpieces has quickened dramatically at an unprecedented level. It's an entirely new age of creativity that is unlike anything before it and that will continue for millennia. We've crossed some kind of threshold.

"Ars longa, vita brevis" is an amazing quote however, and thank you for sharing that with me.

> It's undeniable that the pace of creation of masterpieces has quickened dramatically at an unprecedented level.

Yes and no. As far as I can tell, the pace of content creation and distribution has been exponentially increasing since at least the Renaissance. So, while it is undeniably true that the current pace is unprecedented, it has also been true at any point in the past you care to examine. This means that the feeling of being overwhelmed by a deluge of new information is something of a constant throughout history.

It doesn’t increase exponentially all the time. It’s tied in to changes with how information is dispersed.

The printing press, the telegraph, radio, tv, the internet, and most recently the mobile internet are some of the reasons for increases in the firehose of information being thrown in our faces.

Here’s an excellent book on the subject https://www.amazon.com/Amazing-Ourselves-Death-Introduction-...

I don't understand why it's so hard to understand this. The internet and mobile communication have undoubtedly ushered in an entirely new era.

> It has also been true at any point in the past you care to exam

I figured you would say this, which is why I stressed that we have crossed some kind of threshold. The effect of the internet, cheap electronics, free online resources as well as the fact that we now have 8 billion people in this world all culminate to set the stage for an entirely new era of creativity.

We are living in the New Renaissance. People will be discussing this era in history books for a very long time, like we do the Renaissance now. Why do we focus on the Renaissance and not the period of creation between then and now? Because it marked an unprecedentedly different era of creativity. And here we are again. So your mention of the Renaissance really only strengthens my argument.

We talk plenty about 18th and 19th century creators. That's Dickens, Dumas, Beethoven, Mozart, Wagner, Brahms, Chopin, Paganini, Mahler, Tchaikovsky, Swift, Defoe, Washington Irving, Wordsworth, Rousseau, Louisa May Alcott, Hans Christian Anderson, Lewis Carrol, the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson, Doyle, Elliott, Emerson, the Brothers Grimm, Charles Darwin, Victor Hugo, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Kipling, Melville, Nietzsche, Proust, Shelley, R.L.Stevenson, Thoreau, Twain, H.G. Wells, and many more.

Their works are all over 100 years old and regularly read (or performed) today, long predating the internet and most predating the telephone. The internet is still way too new to say how history will remember it, and I don't see any evidence that the creativity explosion that started in the Renaissance ever stopped.

You completely ignored everything I said. Listing a large amount of historical artists does nothing to refute that we have more today than ever before.

It's amazing you can point to the Renaissance as an obvious point in history where things transitioned but you aren't able to see it happening right now around us.

> Listing a large amount of historical artists does nothing to refute that we have more today than ever before.

Of course it doesn’t, I agree with this statement wholeheartedly. However, the changes brought by the internet don’t feel categorically different than the ones that came from steamships, telegraphs, radio, film, telephone, railroads, or airplanes. Each of these innovations changed the world as we know it by making it easier for new ideas to spread, and a corresponding increase in the quantity of available content. You may be right that the internet has ushered in a new Renaissance, but history may also decide that the old one never really stopped, or that the seminal invention of this era was one of these earlier ones, or even one that doesn’t get invented for another decade — predicting how history will judge the present is always difficult, and never certain.

And King Solomon, ~950 BC :)

"But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body."

Eccl 12:12

Give up. There’s too much content, you obviously can’t handle it all.

Just acknowledge this and just enjoy what you can.

A few years ago I thought I could get through my to-read list, then I realized I couldn’t and stopped worrying about it.

I'm not worried about it, and I don't plan to give up.

Becoming an amateur art historian has greatly enriched my day-to-day life and given me much inspiration in my own creative output.

As a multi-disciplinary artist I feel called to recognize and hold important people and their creations in my memory, in order to help them live forever like they wanted.

This reminds me of the Sand Mandalas (1) made by Buddhists, intricate detailed pieces of art that take weeks to make intentionally destroyed to represents their belief of the natural cycle. I can imagine someone having an instagram catalogue of their own work trying to leave their mark through their digital footprint. Even if the data stored to preserve individuals works on these platforms persisted beyond ones life there's no guarantee the service that hosts it will be around that long.

In an age where we have a growing abundance of material to go through and discover, it shows the futility to hold attachment to our own personal marks on this world during this life. There will come a point where even just the relevant amount of material to our own interests will exceed the time one can consume in a single lifetime, perhaps we have already passed that point.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sand_mandala

About 300 hours of content are uploaded to YouTube per minute. That’s 1800 minutes per minute.

You can look at just the best 0.06% of YouTube, and never touch the back catalog.

The sad thing about this is all of the "less than perfect" artists whose content gets swept up in the storm. Hopefully the rise of the Long Tail will combat this to some degree, but we will have to redefine our concepts of fame and eternal life through art. We have entered the age of globalized niche culture.

[0] https://longtail.typepad.com/about.html

Part of the problem is this industrialist idea of using time efficiently. Where we originally quantified our use of time at work in order to make our managers more money, we now apply this ideology to our entire lives. We don't want to waste our time consuming anything but the highest-rated, most-upvoted, best-liked content. We end up having to manage not just our working life, but our free time too.

Worse - I've noticed that most of HN likes to read productivity and self help books. Nothing wrong with that, but it means people are spending a majority of their leisure time learning how to work better!

Honest question - if not work, then do what?

I was not brought up in America so I didn't grow up with the Protestant Work Ethic as part of my culture, so this question is hard for me to answer. Honestly, anything else?

Nothing wrong with focusing on work, especially if you're an entrepreneur or very ambitious. I respect that.

But I think most of us are just putting our eight hours in and then doing other stuff, and that's okay too. The problem I see in the US is that the latter group of people is subconsciously guilty about this and thus spends their free time reading about how to be better at work. It's yet another manifestation if the "temporarily embarrassed millionaire" culture.

How about reading or learning about something that has nothing to do with your day to day job that you find interesting?

Everything I find interesting is somehow ends up related to what friends call "work" =)

EDIT: I was brought up in ex-USSR country, place not quite known for work ethic.

Is there something wrong with having work as your hobby? Or should I say, having work and your hobby be the same thing. I don't think most people are "subconsciously guilty" about anything. They just enjoy their work.

There is a word in applied behavior analysis: enrichment. An animal kept in a plain concrete cage develops stereotyping behaviors (pacing back and forth endlessly, rubbing so much on the same corner that fur falls out). The solution is enrichment, adding things to the environment that engage attention and are reinforcing at a healthy level when engaged with. What qualifies as the right amount of enrichment varies. A box turtle needs a few interesting objects to turn over, drag around, break, crawl over. A cockatoo...a cockatoo will engage to destruction with everything you have the mental space to give it and then start on your house. They're like toddlers with high intelligence and beaks that can bite through wood. (We do not have a cockatoo.)

When you accept all this stuff into your world, it is for enrichment. So is playing sports with friends who having a cup of tea and catching up with someone.

I have found that my guilt over not keeping up went away entirely when I switched to this. I don't have an obligation to this stuff. It has an obligation to me for giving it rent-free space in my head.

I wish there was a higher level being to recognize my stereotyping behavior and put appropriate enrichment into my environment. Because from where I sit I do not see it as repetitive, nor it does not make me feel guilty, but perhaps sad if something does not work out. But maybe from outside this is exactly what that caged animal was doing..

> I wish there was a higher level being to recognize my stereotyping behavior and put appropriate enrichment into my environment.

You're not alone. This is why therapy and coaching are a thing. It's not quite the same thing, but having someone to reflect with you and help you lay things out is useful.

Read for pleasure, explore nature, travel, paint, go to concerts, knit, etc.

Anything that helps you feel relaxed and at ease.

I'm always super busy with work and side projects, but last December I went to Maui for 2 weeks and it was the best thing I did for myself: when I returned, all the things I had to do ("work") crept back in and I realized what it actually meant to be relaxed (because in this condition, I'm definitely anything but that).

So basically hobbies and travel... My problem - my hobbies is what my friends see as a "work" (and I identify it as a work as well). Traveling is alright (although it is plenty of work with whole family, which includes two kiddos) - but it gets old rather quickly (again, perhaps part of it the fact that it is family traveling, so entertaiment options are rather limited)... Perhaps kiddos get old enough I might re-discover traveling as a way to relax, but until then doing nothing makes me more anxious than just keep working. And these self-help/productivity book are just tools, just like "c# for dummies" books.

Hobbies and travel are what are "relaxing" for me :). That may be different for you!

I have so many queues of stuff I want to get to. I feel guilty how little of it I consume. Sometimes just looking at my backlog is somewhat anxiety inducing.

I have 245 videos in my YouTube "Watch Later" queue. (Turns out some parts of the Android YT UI has a max of 199 videos.) And a lot of those are 30min+ lectures. I probably have at least 50hrs of content queued on YT alone. And that's what I haven't watched.

Sometimes I can't choose when I do have the time. I'll have the time to consume 1-3 hours of content and I'll freeze, unable to choose. And half the time I choose something new that's not on my list yet.

Do what I do: just clear out your backlogs once in a while. Be heavy-handed and learn to ignore your Fear Of Missing Out.

They're not like your Jira backlog that someone requires and expects you to work through in its entirety.

They're just lists of things that are "interesting, but not interesting enough to watch/listen to/read right now". So clear them out, I bet you've had some stuff on there for over a year. I know you probably feel some attachment to them, but try clearing out one of the backlogs and see how you feel about it.

I learned this when I accidentally nuked my backlog of open tabs in Firefox, which had lots of things I wanted to get around to checking out in depth. I discovered that I didn't really miss most of them, and the few I did miss, I could find again from memory.

Yes, for sure. I have done this before, but I'm long overdue for another. I have to make it a conscious dedicated effort, otherwise I'm too lenient and I don't trim nearly as much as I ought.

I've done the same thing with tab backlogs. Once I accidentally closed a window and went to re-open it. I couldn't remember any specific thing in that window. I left it closed and moved on.

While on the topic of save for later, I was going to clean my downloads folder by sorting the stuff I may need but then realized I had gigs of files and folders. I took the nuke approach and deleted everything. It was terrifying but I did it. What a relief now seeing how it’s been bugging me for over a year.

I'd very much consider speeding up your videos.

I watch things like educational videos, interviews, news videos etc mostly on 2x.

Movies I often watch on 1.5x, not always but typically at least 1.3x.

Sometimes I go up to 2.5x or 3x when needed, e.g. speeding through a Let's Play video during a part which isn't particularly interesting any slower.


This is a good Chrome extension for video speed control of all web video content: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/video-speed-contro...

Highly recommended!

> Movies I often watch on 1.5x, not always but typically at least 1.3x.

For me, I would ask myself if these movie is worth watching, and if the teaching materials are worth ingesting.

Of course, I always do, too.

Funny thing is that some of this stuff wouldn't be worth watching at 1x, but are worth watching on 2.5x. For example I really enjoy watching replays of strategical games, but much of it is frankly quite boring in real time. Take a typical 2+1 hour game of chess, with minutes between moves, condensed into a 45 minute match with commentary, that's an excellent way for me to enjoy relaxing after a day of work while the washing machine is churning and I'm eating dinner. But I'd absolutely have no time (much less interest) to sit there for 3 hours watching people think.

You have to wonder, what are the odds that all of human content is paced at a perfect speed for all of human consumers?

What are the odds that every lecturer for example, speaks at the same pace, all with the same information density of the concepts they are talking about?

The answer obviously is virtually zero. And so if you have different paces of information density, then the norm should be for every individual that for some content, you adjust the speed of the video!

Some videos pack a ton of information in five sentences, others take ten sentences to convey the same idea. (a density of concepts per sentence) And some lecturers pack those say five sentences in one minute, while others do it in two. (speed of speech) If everyone enjoyed the same pace, and all content was at the same pace, then you'd never have to adjust content-speed. But both of those two statements aren't true. So again, the norm should be that any individual may want to speed up at least some of his content.

In the end it really depends on the content. I don't speed up movies as much for example as news though because in the former, moments of quietness and facial expression are much more meaningful than in the latter and it loses its impact when sped up too much.

What are the odds that all information worth consuming is best consumed at the same speed?

What are the odds that every human cultural experience can be reduced to "consumption" of N bits of information per minute?

I say you will benefit more from eating your dinner and relaxing into the churning sounds of the washing machine than you will from another day of your hyperoptimized speed run through life, measured in bits of information per minute absorbed (like a sponge) from 'content' (a term invented by industries that profit by the mindless consumption of your time by their 'content').

Thanks for the refreshing answer! :)

Unless the film is animated, I could not see how you could enjoy watching it at 1.5x speed, particularly if it's a serious drama.

Humans moving at 1.5x speed just looks weird, and when I speed narrative (i.e. not documentaries) films, it feels like I am watching them just to feel like I watched it compared to enjoying it.

Videos/interviews I agree 2x is fine. I'd think that movies would have a sense of artistic timing/pacing which speeding up the movie would ruin.

> I have so many queues of stuff I want to get to

I had this problem. Here is my solution:

1. Push stuff to physical. Newspapers? Paper delivery. Magazines? Mailed. When the new one comes in, the old one gets thrown out.

2. Set up a dedicated e-mail account for newsletters. Same rule as above. New one in, old one deleted. No exceptions.

News is an information feed. An opportunity to become educated. It should not become an obligation.

That sounds like an RSS reader.

>> 1. Push stuff to physical. Newspapers? Paper delivery. Magazines? Mailed. When the new one comes in, the old one gets thrown out.

I don't think pushing stuff to physical solves my problem of not consuming my desired content. It would solve my problem of having an increasingly longer queue, but at the cost of the environment. I think I would prefer to stay digital.

Watch later is useless, when you press it you know you will never watch it.

I have a To Read folder in my bookmarks bar. I'd argue that it's useful even though I almost never read anything placed in there: it helps me by giving me the opportunity to bookmark and close a single tab and edge a tiny bit closer to internal peace.

I have the same perspective.

Last night I had probably 20 tabs open on Reddit that I wanted to read. Didn’t have the time to look through them all so I bookmarked them in Pinboard, closed the tab, and moved on with my life.

Will I ever read them? Probably not, but it’s nice knowing they’re not lost in my internet history and that I could.

I solve this by just keep the tabs open.

I use tree-style tabs, so anything interesting gets stuck in a tree that I can collapse. It might stay there for a month, maybe more.

Eventually I'll either find the time to read/watch/whatever, or realize it doesn't interest me anymore.

Either way, after a while that tree gets closed and the cycle starts over.

Read Later saving to Instapaper is one of the few things of that type that I actually get around to reading much of the time. I use it judiciously for long reads that I genuinely want to do but can't give the 20 minutes or whatever it deserves right now. Then they're synced to my iPad and make good reads while I'm traveling.

It's wonderful for me. I use it to queue up everything I follow so I don't have to manually interact to keep it going. Mine currently has 1 item that I'm keeping there as a quasi-bookmark, but I churn through it pretty regularly.

Get someone on fiverr to watch it for you.

> Turns out some parts of the Android YT UI has a max of 199 videos.

It also turns out the YouTube service limit of videos in the "Watch Later" list is at 5000 videos :^)

It’s funny because I tried to hyper optimize my email so I would get less of it, but now I’m going in the opposite direction, largely because of email lists and how terrible websites have become.

I’d much rather get email newsletters than trying to stay on top of RSS, which feels like I’m always drowning. And emails are usually much simpler and no flashing ads, no auto playing video, no unlimited scroll, etc.

There is some irony here in how terrible and clunky the Gmail web UI has gotten, yet how standardized and seamless email has remained.

Hacker news has had a recurring discussion about disrupting email. Of course some startup would love to vacuum up all email in to their own walled ecosystem, wrap it in ads, and charge companies to reach their own customers. Please, no.

I use RSS to keep up with podcasts, with a couple webcomics and [so far] one comedian's tour-dates list. I'm hovering around 50 subscriptions, which I feel is "too much" but I'm not sure which great content I should cut; I have a few ideas, but it's in the small single digits against the 50.

For myself, I'm likely much better to start slashing at my email. What suggestions do you have on how to "hyper optimize" with that?

It gets frustrating to feel like every moment another decision needs to be made. Driving to the store: what will I listen to? Free time: video games, tv, reading or what? At work: music or podcasts or radio as background noise?

I am not sure if decision fatigue is real, but working from that assumption, too much of my energy is used up on ultimately inconsequential things like this...

>I am not sure if decision fatigue is real, but working from that assumption, too much of my energy is used up on ultimately inconsequential things like this...

I think it is and have largely given up on trying to plan entertainment for trivial things like driving to the store. I either just sit in silence and enjoy it or let someone else in the car pick radio if they want it.

Automate your decision making progress. The same music, the same food, the same routine. Problem solved.

>Figuring out what the best content for me for the time I have is the problem.

And, of course, sometimes the best choice is no content at all.

I do wonder how increasing quantity and quality of content will effect markets and create new opportunities. Maybe Ev Williams is right and it’s about curation. Maybe something deeper.

"The best response is no response."—Dr. Maxwell Maltz, "Psycho-Cybernetics"(1960)

Maybe we just need to dip into what we feel at each moment and forget there's all this torrent passing by, probably never seen again.

As for choosing non-fiction books, pick one that really ticks the fancy. Then follow into what falls naturally next. Unless a person develops some intuition and freedom in this matter it's always gonna be an anxiety-driven ride through the content river.

And someone will make money out of it promising an app to solve your management non-issues. I like to keep a simple big to-read list and another chnological list of things read, and try to have only one fiction and one non-fiction at at time, everything else is just a flow.

I think part of the problem is that nobody wants to admit what they really want to themselves.

>There's a whole slew of content being created in all forms, from newsletters, blog posts, books, podcasts, music, video games, video on demand and live video. A lot of it is actually really high-quality content. We're being inundated with too much good stuff. I see all these newsletters in my inbox I don't have time to read that I want to. Tv shows, youtube videos I want to watch but don't have time for.

Sounds like online dating.

For 10% of the user group.

I don’t mind newsletters, but I still prefer the anonymity of RSS. For every dedicated author as per the linked article there are ten company backed newsletters that will take your email address and use it as an advertising target on a specific subject. Illegal, but of course it happens.

I've tried to split the difference. All my newslettering is also published on my site, with attendant RSS feeds. The thing about the newsletter I love, as I explained in the essay, is the quality of conversation is so much higher than anything I've found outside of the inbox. (Hacker News excepted; this place deserves its own love letter.)

Obviously having both is the best of both worlds! (by the way, thanks for the content, I’ve subscribed. Walking the mountain paths of Japan is an underrated pastime for sure, had an amazing time at Yoshino and Hakuba last time I was there)

Yoshino is a gem. I'm running a retreat there later this year with Jan Chipchase.

I get so much of this. I actually have a couple of newsletters that I enjoy, but every tech product I sign up for has a newsletter attached that I haven't asked for.

I found https://leavemealone.xyz just before the end of last year and unsubscribed from 238 newsletters. It's made by a couple of IndieMakers.

My inbox is much cleaner now, some might say even boring. Though are they are starting to creep back in as I go about my internet life.

Thanks for the leavemealone link!

It wouldn't be such a hard thing to do, to sign up for newsletters and create dedicated RSS feeds of the incoming emails. Allowing access to people who prefer being more private in their consumption is probably a nice thing to do, but isn't it 100% illegal?

I started a meme newsletter for my friends. I publish it occasionally - not on any schedule, and with whatever content and style I feel like. It's like publishing a small, private website from time to time. And it's completely decentralized, and responses come back straight to me, so there's no fighting in the comments. I almost never post on social media anymore.

It was similar for me, as I want to follow what is 'happening' in the UNIX/BSD/Linux/Hardware world I often sent links to my friends with 'interesting stuff' ... so I created Valuable News to make it available for everyone.

The latest one is available here:


> "The tailflix is replacement for tail -F that asks you if you are still watching."

This made me laugh out loud.

Me too :)

I made a choice early on in my newsletter that I don't publish them anywhere. If you weren't subscribed when I sent it out, you miss it. I think that's a cool piece of email newsletters - there's not necessarily an endless archive.

Er, that said, I think it's good to do archives for useful emails like yours. Mine is just memes which go stale pretty quickly :)

> I publish ... it's completely decentralized

What do you mean by decentralized in this context?

I think they're saying they have a mailing list set up for communication between friends, and it's "decentralised" in the same way email is (rather, it's federated).

@revx wrote: responses come back straight to me, so there's no fighting in the comments

This makes it sound like revx is the single point of failure.

The whole thing reads to me like the locus of centralisation lies entirely with revx.

I get that email is decentralised / federated.

An author posting original content is always a single point of failure. That's a problem based in the physical world and has nothing to do with the computer-based system by which they distribute their content.

If revx email host gets shutdown, he can find a new one easy peasy. revx can just update his domain's DNS records to point them to a new server.

The federated nature of email prevents any individual email host from being a single point of failure, which I would believe is the point when comparing publishing via email to publishing content via a social network platform.

I imagine that the mailing list is Bcc:, with themself as the To:. This would allow for such a setup. Of course this isn't "socially decentralised" but I doubt that's what most people are referring to when they talk about decentralisation.

Yeah, I probably used the wrong word. I meant that the mechanism of publishing/consuming isn't centralized globally - anyone publishing a newsletter can choose (or build) their publisher, while publishing an instagram post would necessarily be produced and consumed via instagram.

Right yeah, true. Also, I probably wasn't adhering to the HN guideline please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize.[1]

My bad, sorry about that.

1. https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

No problem. Thanks for the apology.

Are you using tools like mailchimp or plain old e-mail ? Templates ? Fancy graphics ?

The Thunderbird add-on that lets you compose directly in HTML is fun for this kind of thing. You can also abuse those signature-maker site HTML signatures into full emails, tightly composed.

I also think PDF newsletters are cool if you're doing anything people might like to store. I have been trialing Textmaker 2018 for this in Linux and it will do most desktop publishing stuff like linked text frames really easily, plus export to HTML, pdf, and epub.

I use mailchimp but probably could get away with plain old email (I have about 45 subscribers). I just use the HTML editor that mailchimp provides and write some inline CSS. It's all "handcrafted" which is what I want. Hope this helps :)

I will say that their free tier (I think it's 10k emails per month?) is way more than enough for my use case. I'm not affiliated with mailchimp.

A meme newsletter?...

Yeah, I send out memes (a lot of screenshots from twitter and tumblr, honestly) and content from imgur/reddit. I curate the content and send it to people who are interested in that kind of thing. It's obvs not for everyone but I have subscribers that seem to enjoy it :)

I also sometimes send out essays about things I've been thinking about. My last email had about 1k words about millennials (I am one, ftr) and what the media was saying about my generation.

It's not for everyone but that's something I enjoy about the email newsletter medium - you can always unsubscribe.

Newsletters feel like a step (or more like a plunge) back from subscribing to websites via RSS feeds. And yet this seems to be the direction that technology is moving in.

I’ve chosen not to subscribe to certain blogs simply because I don’t want to place my email address in more hands who have no incentive to care about my privacy.

I don't subscribe to newsletters because I have no trust in how much it's going to send to me, weither or not they'll be worth having, and I value my privacy.

Instead, I use RSS daily. Whether it's for the blogs or it's with podcasts.

Feedbin [1] (a RSS service like Google Reader) lets you subscribe to newsletters and have the emails show up in your reader like regular posts.

1. https://feedbin.com/blog/2016/02/03/subscribe-to-email-newsl...

if you don't want to give your email address or fill your inbox with newsletters, you can get them in your RSS feeds.

I just added this feature a few weeks ago to the RSS reader i built (https://aktu.io/about).

Right now there's a few hundreds newsletters you can subscribe to, i'm adding new ones every day, and suggestions i welcome :-)

You can subscribe to a newsletter as you would add a RSS feed, it's gonna showup in your folders, no need to give your email address.

A catch-all email address + filtering works for me.

Some feed readers offer a private email address that you can subscribe to newsletters with, and see them alongside your other RSS feeds. My reader of choice (Feedbin) does this. It's one way to at least centralize them all in a place outside your email inbox.

I am so glad Craig mentions https://buttondown.email. It is such a great service, and Justin (the creator of Buttondown) is engaged and friendly with his users.

I use Buttondown for my newsletter and would highly recommend it!

Oh, that's super cool. I write my newsletter emails in markdown, change them to HTML, and then publish them on mailchimp (which is a bit overkill for my 45 subscribers). Definitely going to check this out!

I use Buttondown also. It is not full-featured compared to MailChimp — I wouldn't use it for serious marketing or ecommerce — but it's beautifully streamlined for the purpose of maintaining a simple newsletter.

As a newsletter guy myself (see https://tedium.co/), one that focuses less on link lists and more on longer-form storytelling, I look at email as a vessel that helps lessen the effect of the platform on the creative outlet. It's one of many, but still a vessel. If you read my content in your inbox, great! If you want it on the web, it's there, too. In your feed (https://feed.tedium.co/)? You can have it there, too. I'll even syndicate it. My only limitation is that it's something that I can control the distribution of, not Facebook or Twitter or Medium. Maybe I'll share the content on those platforms, but I won't let it be my primary vessel.

I think, ultimately, this is the benefit I see of the newsletter mechanism—it's the ability to control your destiny as a writer and distributor. We simply do not allow for enough of that in this platform-driven era. So let's minimize the platforms.

After an era in which platforms have had so much control, it's great to see writers figure out that there are ways around all that. Kudos to Craig, Tim Carmody, and other writers that have been willing to put this kind of work into their business models.

Somewhat related:

Create an email filter that moves any email with the word “unsubscribe” into its own folder out of the inbox.

It’s an amazing signal for separating direct and bulk mail.

Careful, though. I added this rule to my inbox (automatically marking them read, though) years ago and just a month or two ago figured out why I was _never_ aware I had pull requests or issues on GitHub, among quite a few other things I was constantly missing.

Yes, good catch!

I haven’t really noticed this since I have a habit of clicking unsubscribe on anything that does actually show up and so my bulk folder is usually empty.

Thank you for this, I just unsubscribed from like 10 mailing lists within the last 5 minutes.

I've done the same, it works brilliantly. I also added an exception not to move emails from senders in my Address Book. That way I can whitelist senders just by adding to address book.

similarly, you can use gmails + operator: for example, whenever you sign-up for a newsletter, you can use username+news@gmail.com, and then filter anything to that address to its own folder.

Why the obnoxious "sign up for my newsletter" popup?

The best reason I can think of is it gets more people to sign up to the newsletter. (Who are these people, that would sign up for a newsletter b/c something interrupted them reading the blogpost, but wouldn't sign up on their own?).

A popup is nice for the people who would sign up for a newsletter anyway, but a PITA for anyone else who cares to read the blogpost's content, right?

I've struggled with this popup (keeping it or nixing it; I'm the owner of the site). Sadly, it's insanely effective at converting folks (thousand of subscriptions over the last few months; high retention as I track those subs separately). It shouldn't trigger while reading unless you leave the window. And also won't trigger until you're at the bottom of the screen. And if you dismiss it once, you should never see it again with that browser on the site.

That said, it is annoying, especially on a page about newsletters. So I just modified my templates to take a variable to turn it off on a page-by-page basis (using Hugo to generate the site). Won't appear for this post anymore.

I regularly delete all cookies for sites that don't require login (i.e. most content sites I visit), so for me such popup annoyances keep recurring. And I often leave the window before I come back later to finish the article, which is even more annoying and makes the popup look like a desperate scream for attention. Sometimes I actually do sign up for newsletters, but in those rare situations I first look for the contact details on the page, and then I create a specific new email address for that subscription, so it's nothing I do on a whim. I am amazed that people submit their email address to a random popup.

But thanks for removing it for this page, it's a step in the right direction!

Note: I have no problems with non-popup info about newsletters or other engagement offerings (e.g. end-of-page banners), those are much less intrusive than popups.

> It shouldn't trigger while reading unless you leave the window

One thing I've noticed is that they often appear (can't speak to this one specifically) if you alt-tab to another window to note something. That can be almost annoying as appearing while you are reading.

Thanks. :-) I didn't know it was such a big difference.

Because it turns out that there are design patterns that are simultaneously user-hostile for the overall set of readers, yet convert enough people to make the hit worthwhile to the owner. See also: undirected AB testing, designing for anxiety, etc etc.

As an end user, I hate it, but I see why they do it. Getting your email is the last bit of control they have that cannot be taken by Facebook/Google.

There really should be a adnauseam for newsletters to discourage this practice.

The rise of Slack has made me love and appreciate email even more. I love that one of the oldest internet technologies is actually decentralized and thriving...makes me bullish that something out of the crypto space will one day work.

That's a bit of a leap... Email and crypto are decentralized... Sure.... But in very different ways with very different goals.

I love the python and postgresql weekly newsletters. Concise, very targeted info, no anxiety of privacy issues, etc. I dont directly click on links though, just DDG search of the library or article.

And, I usually can access the email from my office inbox, so there's that.

This is handy right now: I've been looking for a good newsletter service for a non-profit I volunteer for. Any recommendations?

I’ve not tried it, but this looks good: https://buttondown.email/

Anyone know of a service that will summarize a batch of different news letters for you? Say you subscribe to 30 newsletters, but a lot of them contain fluff, legal & disclaimer, ads, etc - but you only want a summary of the good content sent to you on say a Sunday.

I would imagine the interface being a list of newsletters, with a drop down to say how much of the content you would like, an option for what time and what day you wish to recieve the summary and then the actual email to just be the summary with a single link to the full newsletter underneath.

Does something like this exist? My google-fu is returning nothing.

I see newsletters as a first level of curation/aggregation that helps managing the daily deluge of content/information.

I've built a database of newsletters, there's 500+ indexed and categorised so far. I'm adding news ones daily, and would love some suggestions so i can grow this database.

I haven't build a standalone website to browse the db yet, but you can check out the newsletters and subscribe as RSS feeds with the rss reader i built (https://aktu.io/about)

You know what we could use -- bare with me here -- a newsletter that is a collection of the best content from newsletters you might like.

A lot of these newsletters are very good (many are not as well). But the volume is just so high.

Same thing with news outlets. There is a huge supply of good content. But there isn't enough intelligent bundling to make it all work anymore. I recently paid for a Medium account, and the reason I did was that Medium is really good at giving you targeted content from a wide variety of sources.

This may sound strange, but I am subscribed to no newsletters. In fact, I had no idea such specific, elegant newsletters even existed. I may add to the rainstorm, whether that's bad or good...I don't actually know.

In any case, I'm working on site that is to hopefully serve as a hub for 2d game developers to share their scripts and thoughts freely, gaining access to "the restricted sections" of the site as they contribute (and yes, this is inspired by Pagemaster.) and as such, the site will become a library over time.

People can take a penny, leave nothing, or give a roll of pennies and never take any pennies. People should have as much or as little access as they wish. The best thing about this idea I think is when users sign up for their "library cards" they will actually receive something that functions like one in digital form. (I may try to look into making physical cards which I have designed already! but I still have to work out the logistics of that..., haha.)

When they have cards, they will instead of "chcking out books", be able to create the books that they want, similar to wikipedia's pdf/book system. (Everything hosted on site will be open source too, to be used for whatever purposes including commercial.)

And here's where the ourobouros comes back to bite, I swear this isn't a tangent.

I think a newsletter would be a better place to start for me to prototype this idea. WEven though the site is under construction already. It will be in that state for a long time too, as this is my first time developing web content, instead of games! But I could do this.

Thanks for sharing! (I don't self promote in posts, but if you are interested, just see my profile.)

Really enjoying the content of this website and am glad to have found it.

You might want to edit your post and remove all the newlines, it's got a very weird formatting (at first I thought it was a poem).

I'm sorry, again. (I'm doing better than yesterday, yikes, look at that one!) I though doing a line break in between every line would make it better, and it did, but man it definitely looks like a poem.

I will do my best to get this right! Apologies, seriously. So few rules on the formatting is throwing me off.

Thanks for pointing that out, honestly. I actually understand what it wants from me now (as far as text goes and not links dear god I made a mess with that.) I edited it and I think it resembles the others now, so if it's okay let me know and I'll try to fix it up if it isn't!

One thing to keep in mind when starting a newsletter: publish it somewhere so that content is also visible to other people who aren't subscribed to your newsletter. Unless of course you explicitly only want it to be visible to subscribers.

One easy way to do is by subscribing publish@publicemails.com to your newsletter. (Disclosure: I created https://publicemails.com, where this service is provided).

> Email is definitely not ideal, but it is: decentralized, reliable, and not going anywhere – and more and more, those feel like quasi-magical properties.

But wouldn’t a website hosted on a platform you control also serve this purpose? Even with the services mentioned in the essay you have a third-party looking over where you data is and have to rely on them if you ever want to retrieve your data back.

I guess you’d also have to add a method for facilitating contact though (uh… email?)

It’s mostly a distribution problem. Depending on what you write about, your audience may not use rss. How do you get them to come back to something they enjoy reading, amongst a sea of clutter? They no longer get notified through social. As Craig says, email let’s you own your audience. The use of the word “own” is slightly problematic but accurate enough.

Any recommendations for newsletters pertaining to typical Hacker News interests, e.g. programming, start-up business, cybersecurity, technology, gaming, etc.?

It's a bit more general-readership, but I find Kevin Kelley's Recomendo [1] newsletter useful. It's lightweight and doesn't require much time to read.

Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings [2] newsletter is arts/literature oriented, well produced, and full of insights - but often quite long.

[1] http://recomendo.com/

[2] https://www.brainpickings.org/

> Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings [2] newsletter is arts/literature oriented, well produced, and full of insights - but often quite long.

I love Brain Picking, although unfortunately I feel that her articles have a certain sort of "sameness" to them.

I love long-form reading. Personally I feel that encouraging long-form reading is important. I disagree that reducing the attention of time required to read is the answer.

I just launched Digital Future Friday [0]. It’s a once a week roundup + analysis about AI, automated propaganda, synthetic influencers, AR/VR and internet culture. My wife forces me to keep it really short, and I just hired an awesome illustrator to add some visual love.

My perspective comes from being the CMO of a unicorn, curious about the underbelly of the internet and human mind.

[0] https://www.nicholasjrobinson.com/blog/newsletter

For JavaScript, https://javascriptweekly.com is pretty good.

I subscribe to several of their newsletters, and they're all good: https://cooperpress.com/publications/

Thanks for recommending us, folks. If it helps, they're mostly edited by HN readers too(!) (me in most, but not all, cases).

I am working on one for engineering. Goal is so send no more than every two weeks and just keep quality bar super high.

First issue is up at https://buriedreads.com/2019/01/19/how-computing-came-about-...

https://www.4-9s.com for containers, ci/cd, ha, iac + testing

I think someone wrote an HN email digest. You could get a weekly email with top posts that week ... I don't recall the name

google for „<topic> weekly newsletter“. i am subscribed to about 10 topics i am interested in at any time and do receive useful information. Sometimes they are in my inbox for weeks and i read them all at once when i am for example on the train

I'm some sense, Email is the first social network. And decentralized as the author points out...

It would follow that if you want to leverage this platform you need to make better tools to enhance email writing and reading experience.

That interface hasn't changed much over the decades.

Along with raining podcasts. How do we fix this? Go back to Web?

“In truth, it’s a newsletter about the design of walking.“

Oh my God, we don’t need this.

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