Why Do This?
It's definitely less annoying than me emailing family and friends every-single-goddamn-time I read something I feel should be shared. Disclosure: my wife has a custom "smart" inbox, created by me, of emails from me, and the unread count is...substantial. Hundreds. Maybe thousands. Disconcerting. What's in there?
Anyways. I don't blame her.
Post-election answer: because it's absolutely necessary.
Here's the gist: it's less that I think I have important things to say, and more that the world's at a critical juncture and it's easy to miss what's actually important amidst the endless, relentless noise. God, the fucking noise. Why's there so much goddamn noise?
Here's part of the reason:
Most websites/online publishers are monetized by and therefore constructed around display ads, or pre-roll video ads, or other ads, and they need to drive clicks, first to their website, and then to the ads, and these usually convert at less than 2%, and when they do the margins are incredibly small because the marketplace competition for eyeballs is insane and all of it is handled by computers, instantaneously, behind the scenes, run by a huge variety of ad networks that have left anywhere from five to twenty trackers piled up on the site, that all load every time, before you even see any content; regardless even the best of your favorite sites that aren't Facebook or Google.com are barely eeking out an existence. Or they just straight up die. All while your favorite webpage takes 11 seconds to load in 2017.
And so the only real way they can actually survive is by serving up click-bait bullshit like "This Adorable Puppy Drowned and Then You'll Never Guess What Amazing Thing His Neighbor Did Next". This clusterfuck situation has only been thrown more into flux by the emergence of Facebook Instant Articles, Apple News, and then of course there's Google's complete inability to monetize anything but their advertising business.
Yes, yes: if you've subscribed already and are (still) reading this, then it's likely your favorite websites are semi-respectable (don't get me wrong -- we've all got our dirt) and probably have some hardworking bastards pumping out quality reporting/analysis/opinions. But, they're buried, and again -- noise.
And then there's bandwidth. We've each got such a tiny availability of bandwidth. Not enough time or headspace in the day. I get it. I'm with you. And smartphones and accompanying apps (but mostly games) are specifically designed to fill any empty possible space you have. So you're distracted by the most useful and powerful piece of personal technology we've ever developed, have all of the world's information at your fingertips, and don't have time or energy or focus to cut through the bullshit. So you don't even go to the actual websites, and exclusively click on the headlines you see on Facebook, or on Twitter, and those are, surprise surprise, usually the clickbait.
I'm not saying your aunt doesn't share items with strategic national importance, it's just...you get it. Look. It's not your fault. It's the way the system's designed, and you can't create more hours in the day, and believe me, publishers would nuke the whole thing if they could. This is why you should celebrate that paywalls and Buzzfeed exist. Two totally different systems, but at least it's semi-honest money-making. Actual reporting costs money, and they have to pay for it somehow.
But back to me.
The plan is to share items I feel will accomplish one or more of the following:
a) Educate you on a very bad thing that's happening
b) Educate you on a very good thing that's trying to happen
c) Break you out of your bubble
d) Help you feel smart(er) during dinner conversations
Simply: I'm going to hand-deliver you The News Most Vital to Our Survival As A Species.
The format is very much subject to change, but is planned to be a collection of items I've read in the week prior. I'll have curated them from the significantly larger collection of reading I do on a weekly basis. I read a lot every day and every week, mostly because my J-O-B is creating stories, often about the future, or the past, and, if I'm actually doing it right, how we as a species are dealing with some new tech, or aliens, etc (Hint: it's usually not well). But the best stories are relatable, whatever the time period or context, and so I try to keep a broad eye on most important things, and a deep dive on a select few.
Last note on content, and this one is more specific. Something you care deeply about will get left off the radar, over and over again. You'll be annoyed, or just unsubscribe. I will do my best to keep it varied.
However, perspective: without being a total alarmist -- I sincerely believe that the relentless and exponential progression of climate change is so very much worse than we could ever imagine, and that drastic changes are inevitable and well beyond our ability to limit them, much less reverse them. I've got three very young kids. In my view, the end of the habitable planet kind of makes everything else pale in comparison. That isn't to say there isn't tons of really cool, exciting, ground-breaking, potentially paradigm-shifting stuff going on -- there is. And we're gonna highlight those, too. It's just that we're basically in a race against time, and most people aren't talking about it. So we are.
*This is adapted from my intro in Issue #1, before Trump was even a twinkle in America's eye