Email as Social Media

It seems to me we really are in a email newsletter renaissance. Perhaps in the last three years I’ve seen loads of people start newsletters. Even just personal newsletters where the point is updates about their personal lives. Like in lieu of a personal blog. The most common reason I hear is that it feels more intimate.

As huge of a fan of email as I am, I’m still a bigger fan of blogging over email (the long-term capital of a URL is just… good). And especially because blog posts can become emails rather trivially.

I wonder if an extension to the personal newsletter trend is people using email literally as a social media site. A threaded email amongst friends is like a free little social network, isn’t it?


I’ll take too many exclamation points over too few any day.

What would it take to unseat email?

I really don’t know.

Maybe close to 10 years ago I had a friend who hated email so much that nearly any alternative was preferable. To her, DMs on Twitter (must have been early days for that!) were better. Perhaps the short and threaded nature of them was appealing. More likely, the idea that you could control you could DM you by requiring it to be a mutual follow.

That’s not really a thing with email. I suppose you could write email filters that block all emails from people not on some particular list, but I’ve literally never even heard of anyone doing that. Email is this open door, with all the good and bad that comes with that. That’s not to say a more closed-door communication method isn’t valuable, it is, but it doesn’t seem to be unseating email.

Google Wave notoriously was meant to be “what email would be if email was invented today”, which was nearly 10 years ago now, and is dead as a doornail, and nobody has even tried to do anything as ambitious since.

I remember the early days of Slack had marketing that eluded to Slack being something of an email replacement for business communication. Perhaps to some degree, but as much as Slack is talked about as being this vital tool for business today, people don’t seem to be any less burdened by email.

I don’t have any big ideas, I just think it’s interesting. Tech is this place where there are always new companies trying to disrupt huge markets, and email is about as big as it gets. It seems like the closest stab at it is fancy email clients, but even the fanciest features largely just light UI and UX improvements over the core features of email.

The fact that email is “free” is probably somewhat of a turnoff for starry eyed innovators. But I’d posit that email has done such a good job at what it does, it doesn’t need to be unseated.


Even bolder than replying to a year old email without even acknowledging any time has passed.

99.5% Noise

My suspicion is that filtering isn’t the answer here. That’s just too many damn emails and a lot of it needs to get cut off at the source.

I’m starting to think that for an average busy person, that 100 emails a day is doable, with perhaps 25% directly actionable. That’d be more like 3,500 emails for Jamison (still a lot, but paternity leave is an unusual situation) and 875 actionable. That’s actionable number took a huge leap up, but you’d think that would/could take a dramatic dip if you’re clear that you are on leave.

Email Entitlement

Came in the middle of an interesting thread about a weird/bad communication that a lack of response created.

Like it or not, not responding to emails is a response in itself. The response can range from “aw snap, I couldn’t get their attention” to, apparently, extreme disappointment and anger and inventing a whole years-long narrative about the terribleness of you. Now, if someone has that whack of a take on a cold-call email you didn’t respond to, perhaps it’s best the connection was never made in the first place.

John Scalzi has a pretty intense page to set the stage for his inbox:

Pestering me about not immediately answering your e-mail will piss me off. It will make me less likely to respond, and if I do respond, you probably won’t like it.

Unsubscribing Complication

It’s such a silly concept. For those of us with simple setups like a MailChimp newsletter, unsubscribing is a two second job. But of course the internet is a big place and tech is weird. I’ve heard people say it’s like this sometimes because campaigns get queued up to send (including the recipient lists, apparently) sometimes this far in advanced.

Here’s a WAY WEIRDER story: