September 18, 2016

They told me I should write a newsletter

Saturday evening, as Laurent, Loïc and I were stuffing our faces with delicious raclette (I won), the conversation veered to newsletters.

"You should write one, why don't you?" they said.
"But I have three! 3 Links, Demande à Steph, and my Intermittent Newsletter."

They had a point, though. The first two are not really newsletters in the sense we were talking about, the blog-like newsletter where one just rambles on about what is happening in life and business. This one is, but I hardly ever send it out. I try to blog, see.

I haven't been doing too badly with this blogging thing, considered it's been going on for over 16 years now (set aside one notable interruption). But as I've been repeating lately like a broken record, the landscape has changed. Blogging does not have the "special connection" energy it used to have. In 2004, being a blogger made you special, reading blogs made you special, and "the blogosphere" still felt like a community you belonged to.

Today, the whole web has been blogified, everyone is "sharing stuff" (more on that coming) all over the place. Having an online presence does not make you part of an "in-group" anymore.

But we're getting some of that back with newsletters and private online spaces. I know I've said this before, but it's important enough to be repeated. The strength of the online world is people and relationships. Tools are only enablers, and are only valuable to the extent they enable what is valuable: communities, networks, human connections. I've had many a conversation with old-time bloggers over the last months and years where we try to grasp at something we feel has slipped through our fingers. The Web We Lost, or the time when social media was about people, not brands and self-promotion.

Which brings me back to sharing. Sharing is not just about putting your life in a digital firehose. It's about intention, a mindset. I can share with different intentions: promoting the hell out of my business, or seeking genuine connections with others. There may be an overlap in what these two mindsets bring us to share, but rest assured that the results differ.

One day, we will lift our heads out of the obsessive-addictive noise of social media as we know it today. We will slow down, we will rebel against The Algorithm. I'm not there yet, but I can feel a hint of it around the corner. When that happens, all that is being pushed upon us will collapse, like the community kept on life-support by Google Ads, which died overnight when that hefty budget was cut.

What will be left then will be people, and relationships, and communities. Your network. Even though digital tools support your network, it exists independently in the space of human relations.

As Loïc said Saturday in his talk: think long-term. Don't exploit people for short-term gain, sacrificing long-term relationships and opportunities you can't even start to imagine today, because you don't know where your life is leading you.

Care about others, and they will care about you. Yeah, there are jerks -- but care about enough people, and the jerks will be drowned in the number of good people in your life.

I could be blogging this, right? I could indeed. And I might, of course, because this newsletter is archived publicly, as are the others. And I like rehoming everything I write on my blog, like I've done in the past with the stuff I wrote for ebookers, Les QuotidiennescoComment (gosh! blast from the past!), and will do shortly with my Open Ears posts, sadly unreadable as of today since the migration to the HearingLikeMe platform has nuked all the paragraph breaks.

Anyway: it's all public, so what does it change?
Answer: a lot.

We always write (or speak) for our perceived audience. Right now I'm writing for your inboxes. The fact it will end up on the web is incidental. On my blog, I'm writing for the web, the "public" -- even though you can subscribe by e-mail, that is incidental. It's psychological, but it makes a big difference. I mentioned intention earlier. There we are. I am intending an e-mail.

The intention of a blog post has changed a lot between 2004 and 2016. Blogs are now "mainstream". Journalists and my neighbours know about them. The people I know don't read them much, which paradoxically gives my blog a certain amount of obscurity. People are on Facebook, however: sharing something on Facebook means facing a super reactive audience of collapsed contexts. With this newsletter, I can write under the illusion that I am writing to you, you the reader, you the person who opened this e-mail -- although as a group, the 139 people presently subscribed to this newsletter, you certainly represent diverse contexts of my life.

Well, I actually wanted to give you an update on what's been going on, but I seem to have gone off on a tangent. I'll try and be brief:
  • last Tuesday Elisabeth and I held an information session about the career development workshops for musicians we're holding this fall. It went great, people are interested and signing up. Time to tell your Lausanne-based musician friends to sign up before it's too late.
  • nothing like taking a week off in the mountains for interesting business leads and opportunities; maybe feeling relaxed enough to take the time to catch up and chit-chat with old friends has something to do with it (thanks; you know who you are)
  • my new business site is online and I'm getting good feedback about it, as well as feeling inspired to write blog posts around the topic of having an authentic personal presence (hey, what I'm doing here too); now for the kind feedback to materialise into actual clients
  • I'll be speaking at the Women in Digital meetup in Lausanne Wednesday 28th, come!
  • I've had the opportunity this summer to work on creating "authentic content" (seriously, don't know how to call this anymore as "authentic" is being abused and over-used to reference "simili-authentic crap") for an iPhone app designed to accompany new users of a product -- just the type of hand-holding and explaining I love to do (will tell you more when I can!)
  • my coworking space, eclau, is welcoming a bunch of new members and still has some available memberships (our resident startup, Dimando, is growing and moving to a more company-oriented space
  • I need to order new business cards.
If you read this far, drinks are on me next time we see each other ;-)


PS: Français? Une prochaine fois, ou bien sur le blog, j'écris pas mal en français ces temps!
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