accumulation

Manila, 8 February—This letter comes late as we’d been moving over the weekend—our Q1 project for this year (last year’s Q1 project was our Korea trip1). The thing about moving is that it really puts you face-to-face with all this accumulation—perhaps even aggravated by the pandemic because just how many times have you added to cart this past year?? Certainly, our household did.

We have yet to truly sort through stuff, to be strict about it. We should probably get on one of those minimalist projects where we throw out/sort for dispatch/sell certain books or possessions in the next few weeks or so—would anybody be interested in that? LOL. We found some interesting books tucked away in boxes. Any takers?

Anyway. I’d like to think we’re leaving bulk of 2020’s lost pandemic hours in our old room and sort of starting anew. I foresee a handful of new adventures we could undertake—maybe some plants?? Maybe some home exercising?? What’s good, 2021?

Suggestions welcome

Gloves off

Earlier this week, Twitter started pushing its newly acquired newsletter platform Revue2, and I’m on it, of course.3 I gave its UI an initial spin and found it rather interesting. Not quite sure what to do with it just yet, but I’m glad the newsletter trend is somewhat catching on?

In a blog entry acknowledging Twitter and Facebook’s entry into the newsletter scene4, Substack founder Hamish Mackenzie writes:

We at Substack have never thought that the solution lies in simply shouting about how engagement-based business models lead to media products that are superficially compelling but underneath are eroding the foundation of society. Instead, we have set out to show that platforms that put writers and readers in charge are just better.

Substack is designed to be a calm space that encourages reflection. You read Substack posts in your inbox or on a web page that is free of advertising or any other distraction. There are no addiction-maximizing feeds, autoplaying videos, or retweetable quote-retweets to suck you into a psychological space you never asked to be in. You make decisions about which information to put into your brain based on how well certain writers reward your trust, not based on a dopamine hit gained by refreshing a feed packed with performative posturing. 

But it’s the calmness of the model that’s the real killer feature. Perhaps this is giving away too much, but I often find myself telling people: “Our real product is our business model.” On Substack, writers succeed when readers feel that their trust is being rewarded, and we, the platform, succeed only when writers do well. There’s nothing sophisticated about this model. We’re not hoping you become addicted to our feeds or that you will trade sleep for content consumption so we can sell your attention to advertisers. Instead, we hope that readers find amazing things to read and that the writers who produce that stuff make a ton of money.

This made me think twice about Twitter’s motivation or business model where Revue is concerned—what data points am I giving it further? Not that I haven’t already given it enough, having been on the platform for the better part of the last twelve or so years, but still. Anyway, I’m liking this whole move back into blogging—I hope it will remain less about algorithms and more writing, writing, writing. Agree completely with this challenge set forth:

If Facebook and Twitter are earnest in their pursuit of this opportunity, I implore them to go all in. They have enormous influence and can make a big positive difference in the world by taking the lessons from Substack to heart. This is about more than just doing the right thing for writers; it’s about improving the entire information ecosystem.

In particular, Facebook and Twitter should do their utmost to give power to writers and readers. That means letting writers own their relationships with their readers and giving them the ability to take those relationships off the platform whenever they want. It also means letting readers fully control what they see in their feeds by avoiding ads and disincentivizing culture-war superweapons like retweetable quote-retweets (such as my mean tweets above).

Damn. Substack really took their gloves off for this one. I wouldn’t trust Facebook’s newsletter endeavor (frankly, I think neither should you). I still wish Twitter showed me less of what other people liked—don’t get me wrong, I’ve been discovering some interesting things this way5, but I also know some people I follow use the like button differently and I’d like for them to keep using it that way without worrying that it would land on other people’s feeds, if you know what I mean? Also, I wish Twitter could also let individual users do their bit to disincentivize troll farms by allowing users to flag certain accounts before they are viewed by their respective followers as well. Imagine being able to mute J/m/g/n/0 not just from my feed—I could do your feeds a favor as well. Now that’s the multiplier effect in action. (Or maybe a ban list I can follow? May ganito na ba?)

Anyway, just food for thought. I think writers, especially freelancers, could definitely benefit from paid models like what Substack and Revue are offering—however, as Stripe is still unavailable in the Philippines, maybe not yet. There are loads of other ways to support writers via online platforms though—among those I’ve tried are Patreon, ko-fi, and this latest animal, Buy me a Coffee (sample link below)

Buy me coffee

Now with footnotes

As you may have noticed, Substack now allows footnotes! Which is amazing! This way I don’t have to break your attention by inserting in-line links, you can just go back to all of them at the end of my entry.

What joy.

Your turn, Revue. Hehe.

Anyway, my favorite meme from this week:

(What’s happening in Myanmar is no joke though6.)

Have a good week ahead, and thank you as always for reading this far.

XO,

K

2

Twitter acquiring newsletter publishing company Revue via Axios: https://www.axios.com/twitter-newsletter-publishing-revue

6

What’s happening in Myanmar via BBC: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-55902070