I’ve been blogging since 1999, first at weblog.searls.com, and since 2007 here. I also plan to continue blogging here* for the rest of my life. But it’s clear now that newsletters are where it’s at, so I’m going to start one of those.
The first question is, What do I call it?
The easy thing, and perhaps the most sensible, is Doc Searls Newsletter, or Doc Searls’ Newsletter, in keeping with the name of this blog. In branding circles, they call this line extension.
Another possibility is Spotted Hawk. This is inspired by Walt Whitman, who wrote,
The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me,
he complains of my gab and my loitering.
I too am not a bit tamed.
I too am untranslatable.
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.
In the same spirit I might call the newsletter Barbaric Yawp. But ya kinda gotta know the reference, which even English majors mostly don’t. Meanwhile, Spotted Hawk reads well, even if the meaning is a bit obscure. Hell, the Redskins or the Indians could have renamed themselves the Spotted Hawks.
Yet barbaric yawping isn’t my style, even if I am untamed and sometimes untranslatable.
Any other suggestions?
As a relevant but unrelated matter, I also have to decide how to produce it. The easy choice is to use Substack, which all but owns the newsletter platform space right now. But Substack newsletters default to tracking readers, and I don’t want that. I also hate paragraph-long substitutes for linked URLs, and tracking cruft appended to the ends of legible URLs. (When sharing links from newsletters, always strip that stuff off. Pro tip: the cruft usually starts with a question mark.) I’m tempted by Revue, entirely because Julia Angwin and her team at The Markup went through a similar exercise in 2019 and chose Revue for their newsletter. I’m already playing with that one. Other recommendations are welcome. Same goes for managing the mailing list if I don’t use a platform. Mailman perhaps?
*One reason I keep this blog up is that Harvard hosts it, and Harvard has been around since 1636. I also appreciate deeply its steady support of what I do here and at ProjectVRM, which also manifests as a blog, at the Berkman Klein Center.
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