A Resurgence of Email

February 27, 2019 • #

Email is seeing a resurgence in an age when everyone’s been crying that email is dead. The comeback is not so much as a tool for intra-office communication (though it’s still alive and well in most organizations, Slack has overtaken email in ours), but as a publishing medium.

Newsletters have become a popular means for connecting with readers, helping publishers (and especially independent writers) cut through the noise that pervades social media channels. The constant feed of non-stop, clickbait-ish content makes it hard to cut through that waterfall with deep analysis or thoughtful writing.

Blogs are still around, but since they require engaging readers deeply enough to get them to visit your site, it’s challenging to compete with Facebook and Twitter for the attention share.

I still prefer a combination of RSS feeds and Pinboard bookmarks for managing my own feeds (plus Twitter), but I also find some of the new email content folks are putting together to be a nice compromise from the traditional blog. Sort of the best of both worlds combining the longer form subscription to content like blogs + RSS give you with a direct approach to deliver 1 thing per day or week to a place you’ll always see: the email inbox.

Here’s a summary of email newsletters I’ve been enjoying, all of which I read consistently (otherwise I’d unsubscribe!):

  • The Exponential View — Azeem Azhar on technology, business, trends, society. Full of interesting links and commentary.
  • Stratechery ($) — The strategy and business of tech, by Ben Thompson. One of the best reads to keep up with the macro industry trends. Lots of original analysis on a variety of topics.
  • Product Habits — Links about building products, marketing, and startups. Put together by Hiten Shah.
  • Axios PMAxios is doing some interesting things with the traditional news model. I use the Axios PM as a daily touchpoint on what’s happening in the wider world of news. Delivered in the afternoon each day.
  • FT World News ($) — International perspective on the news from around the world.
  • Daily Stoic — Ryan Holiday’s daily bite of stoicism. Always a good reminder to snap back to reality.
  • AngelList Weekly — A nice weekly update on startup news.
  • Cleaning the Glass ($) — One of my favorites, with deep analysis of basketball topics from Ben Falk, former analytics guy from the Sixers and Blazers.

These run the gamut; some are free, some I pay for personally, and some we have corporate subscriptions to.

It’s interesting to see these trends ebb and flow. Even as social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook cross the decade mark, having been large, mature platforms for about that long, people are still figuring out how to make use of them on both sides — producers and consumers. Authors are rediscovering that email still provides one of the most predictable form factors for connecting directly with a reader, without having to go through gatekeepers.