Time to bring brainmail back?

GQ magazine, October 2019

Here’s something I’ve discovered. Many things move up and down and in some cases round and round. Therefore, if you have an idea that’s off-trend, or against conventional wisdom, the best thing to do in some instances is simply wait. Case in point my own low-fi newsletter called brainmail. It ran for about 12-years, but I eventually killed it off due to GDPR amongst other things. But it now looks like a hot new idea.

What’s that Confucius, or some other old dude, once said? Something like if you sit on a river bank and wait for long enough, the body of your enemy will eventually float past. BTW, sitting by the water in Lisbon, at the Web Summit, this thought feels especially true.

3 thoughts on “Time to bring brainmail back?

  1. The headline “Time to bring brainmail back?” was such a tease.

    First of all, yes, please, but only if something significant has changed and you feel ready for it. It seemed, at the time, that you were right to terminate it. I think this blog fills the gap well enough (and I subscribe to the RSS feed so I get it “fresh” anyway).

    Second of all, your next headline should be something like “Brainmail: you won’t believe what happens next!”, “Richard says this one simple thing is the secret to bringing Brainmail back” or “12 ways to get the new Brainmail right now!”

    Finally, I have never warmed to podcasts or vlogs, and I have given them more than a fair chance. The information density is too low for me, I have decided. Text is faster to consume than listening to other people talking, and because it’s a special group, email newsletters can be much more personal, than a blog post or podcast or Instagram picture caption (PLEASE DON’T even mention posting text as an image). I can read (or skip) text at my own pace, whereas the podcast producer decides how long an episode is, and it’s not as easy (in practice, impossible) to skim as text.

    I have actually noticed a marked increase in the number of niche-specific newsletters on offer over the past few months, now that I think about it, and those that I’ve subscribed to follow the format of, for example, Brainmail – short, image-free, newsletters with a quick summary followed by a link. It’s a much better way than reblogging/reposting/whatever individual articles in a social media feed. There are so many bodies in that flow, it can be hard to pick out which one was your enemy.

  2. Of course, what I should really do it print brainmail on paper – 2 or 3 pages of stapled A4 black and white – and then distribute (free) to independent bookshops, the odd local library and coffee shop etc. No?

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