“Is There Anybody Out There?”

I wanted to try something different with this post. Usually when I write something here, by force of habit I automatically post the content into Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and HackerNews to pick up traffic. I haven’t invested in building an email subscription list for this blog, partially because I only really revamped it earlier this year in July, and partially because the world seems to have shifted from email to social- and interest-based newsfeeds.

Or, has it?

One of the biggest takeaways from my most recent startup jobs is that, despite the reach of these channels above, email is still the dominant channel. I could bore with you data to support my argument, and social streams are, in some ways, a more natural manner in which to receive and digest information — but there’s a reason most of us work out of our email inboxes, why venture capitalists invest in companies that simply create Gmail plugins, and why you (thank you) have elected to receive this post via email. [Note: Thank you for signing up for my blog. I would not feel bad if you elected to unsubscribe, too. I'm becoming more and more sensitive to how much content is out there and how I contribute to the problem.]

With all this in mind, I’d like to ask you all for your feedback. As an avid reader and someone who uses Twitter (and Pocket) heavily, it only recently dawned on me that sharing content on Twitter is less-intrusive than email, but the content may not find the right audience because most people in these channels are either looking for news, real-time information, and so forth — a post like this, without urgency or context, is just a distraction. Now, some use their Twitter feed as a means to surf the web (like Stumbleupon does), but I’m not sure it’s worth it for me to write and blog unless my content really matters. That’s why I don’t repeat post my content and have only added small social sharing buttons on my posts, as I used to think (and still kind of do, really) that they’re kind of tacky.

If I were being straightforward and direct, what I want (selfishly) is simple: I want to create content and start conversations that people value so much that they want it in their email inboxes. On top of this, I want people to come here and comment on the posts (via Disqus) and feel like they can come here for intelligent discussion, exploration of ideas, and meet new people. Already in a few months on the blog, commenters have found new clients, and one wrote a comment so good I asked him to expand it and send it to TechCrunch for a guest post.

But, there are concerns. Do people want to receive content via email? Do comments only work when people are on their laptops and surfing the web, not mobile? And, how do folks decide “what” to read when every feed we all follow ends up feeling like a dumpsite for other peoples’ activities?

As a result, my decision is to try to collect people like you and create a space for you all to meet each other over time, with my content serving as one of the catalysts for it. I’m a huge fan of what Fred Wilson did, starting almost nine years ago, a daily grind of blogging and now a destination for hundreds of people who want to learn. I’d like to emulate that, or even a portion of it. Please send any feedback (good or bad) in the comments, and thanks for reading.

Haywire is written by Semil Shah, and is published under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license. Copyright © 2014 Semil Shah.

“I write this not for the many, but for you; each of us is enough of an audience for the other.”— Epicurus