Newsletters never die

“I’ve been writing newsletters for the past couple decades. Which means I’ve seen them die and come back about eight times. And each time, their supposed death comes as just as much of a shock to everyone as it did the time before. They never died. They’re the best communication tool you have. And they are built upon the one internet platform that, unlike all the rest, never lets you down.

Newsletters Are Immortal (Dave Pell)

My recommended order-of-operations for establishing a web presence:

  1. Domain name
  2. Professional email address
  3. Website
  4. Newsletter / mailing list

Everything else follows.

Unlike Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and whatever other platform comes along, newsletters are built on an open protocol (email) that’s integral to the internet.

Email isn’t going anywhere. Newsletters aren’t going anywhere.

The place for web regulation

“Any system that allows for automated processing of messages is subject to directed, sophisticated abuse. The place for regulation is not in advertising (even though that’s where it’s begun with the Honest Ads Act), it’s in how the system works architecturally.”

The Internet Must Change. To Get There, Start With the Data (Newco Shift)

The 20th century was about infrastructure. The 21st century is about data.

Television and radio broadcasters are subject to regulation. Telcos are subject to regulation. Google (YouTube), Amazon (Twitch), and Facebook (Instagram, WhatsApp) are the 21st century equivalents. So why aren’t they held to the same level of accountability?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for an open web, and I agree that government involvement can be a burden. But when you hit the scale and scope of a company like Facebook, where the decisions made behind closed doors can have such a dramatic impact on the public, I believe you’ve crossed an important threshold where oversight is absolutely warranted.

Design ethics in tech

“When we think about design ethics, especially in tech, it’s about slowing down and being more conscientious and intentional about what we are creating and what we’re putting out into the world.”

What We Talk About When We Talk About Design Ethics (99u)

My not-so-hot take: ethics in technology will be a dominant topic for the next decade.

Morten Rand-Hendriksen (@mor10) is ahead of the curve. He’s an instructor with LinkedIn Learning and has a course coming out on the subject.

Pulling from a recent-ish post on his blog:

“Part of the problem is the term “ethics” is often equated with statements like “do no harm” or practices to avoid legal issues. In reality, ethics refers to the principles and practices we agree upon as a society to judge the goodness and rightness of acts.”

ASPIRE: An acronym for better web practice (MOR10)

Give the whole thing a read.

IMO, up until now, ethics in tech felt like an afterthought. Important? Sure, in a we’ll-get-around-to-it-eventually sort of way.

Accessibility and inclusive design. Data privacy. Information security. Fake news. Harassment. Moderation. Censorship. The list goes on and on.

We rolled into the 2010’s high on rapid growth. Now, ten years later, we’re reeling from it. Ethics matter more than ever.

Sorry, Google doesn’t want to send search traffic to you.

“Broadly, I believe the narrative for web marketers is clear. The largest source of traffic on the web — free and paid — is becoming a walled garden, intent on not only keeping people on its own properties, but competing directly with those that helped it become a dominant, monopoly power.

If you’re a marketer or a business that relies on Google, there’s still tons of opportunity left (at least in most sectors; sorry Expedia, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and anyone trying to compete against YouTube). But to stay ahead, you need plans for how to diversify your traffic sources, how to grow branded demand outside of search, and how to earn value from zero-click searches. Like global warming, it’s the inevitable future whether we like it or not.”

Google in 2020 (SparkToro)

Google’s been making these moves for a while but it’s more blatant than ever.

I’m not angry at Google about any of this. They have a right to do what they want with their platform. And I’m sure it really does create a better experience for average Google users.

So, as marketers, we need to adjust accordingly.

Free traffic from Google was never going to last. They’re the 21st century equivalent of a 20th century broadcaster or publisher. They own the attention. Advertisers pay to get a small piece of it.

This is another one of the reasons that I’m bullish on community, newsletters, original content, et al. Brands need to start producing things worth subscribing to, joining, and sharing with others.