4 min read

Bit of a glow up

Did I use that term right? Glow up?
Bit of a glow up

Eagle eyed readers may have noticed some aesthetic tweaks beginning with last week’s Pokemon Travelogue, so the cat’s out of the bag: we’ve migrated from Substack to Ghost.

You are almost certainly not asking, “why?” because this almost certainly has, like, zero impact on your experience. The newsletter lands in your inbox, you read it, and maybe you click on a link. From time to time, you say, “hey, I know someone else who might like this.” And you share it with them through whatever means you see fit. This all happens exactly the same whether it’s on Substack or Ghost.

If you’re one of the handful of people actually asking, “why?” I’ll give you an answer in a very long footnote [1].

And if you’re not, I’ve got something even better! It’s a newsletter about newsletters - specifically, my “must read” newsletters (which you can now find in the Ghost recommendations). This is a list that skews a bit weird - it tends to be creative people who don’t have a real job and write about the projects they happen to be working on at any given moment and how they approach those projects. In short, it’s my version of “who I want to be when I grow up.”

Here we go:

Come for the writing, stay for the photography (or vice versa)
  • Roden, Craig Mod. I’m a Craig Mod Day One - I’ve been following him for years, and I will purchase everything he releases, pay my fees for his membership program promptly, and read every newsletter he publishes (and he publishes a lot of newsletters. Roden is 1 of 4). I like what he does, but I love how he does it. I want to live in a world where there are people like Craig who can make wonderful things that are accessible but don’t operate by the logic of growth and scale.
  • The Robin Sloan Newsletter - I’ll tell you a secret: Robin Sloan is a novelist, and I’ve never read one of his books[2]. His newsletter documents all of the different rabbit holes he goes down, some of which are related to research for his novels, some of which turn into his side projects. I don’t know whether he finds interesting rabbit holes or is able to make even the most dull rabbit hole seem interesting, but I am all in on the newsletter - especially because he publishes it monthly, which is just infrequent enough that it always arrives in my inbox unexpectedly.
I wish I had a tagline this cool.
  • Fashi Mindset, Chidi Afulezi - Storytelling, modern stoicism, and all kinds of random thoughts from the mind of one of my favorite people. Chidi publishes whenever he feels like, so this one actually arrives in my inbox unexpectedly, and when I see it I always think, “Oh, hell yes!”
  • Money Stuff, Matt Levine - “which one of these doesn’t belong?” It’s this one. Matt Levine writes about the weird idiosyncrasies of finance for Bloomberg, and he writes about them in consistently hilarious ways. Levine seems to realize that it’s all one big game with constantly changing rules, and it’s that perspective that hooks me. This is my breakfast read every weekday.
  • Second Breakfast, Audrey Watters - I’ve been reading Audrey’s writing since she was EdTech’s Cassandra, and yes she is a very sharp eyed critic, but that’s a very limited view of what she does. Her writing has always had a strong dose of personal narrative, which over the years has become ever more candid and vulnerable. Increasingly, she seems to be writing about how she is living through the consequences of the decisions she has warned against…and she does it in a way that is brave and often very funny.
  • Dense Discovery, Kai Brach - Kai is an expert curator of beauty, delight, and provocation. Reading Dense Discovery feels like being part of the community that he has built.

There are more newsletters in my life, but these are the ones that I read immediately when they arrive, the ones that don’t get filtered out of my regular inbox…what’s on your list? Is there anything that should be on mine? Send ‘em my way!

  1. Why? There’s really no single reason but several different threads that came together and made it make sense. If you’re wondering if the start of it was when Substack declined to deplatform or demonetize Nazis, hid behind a weak free speech argument, and then I saw several people whose opinions I respect leave the platform…well, yes, that was the start of it. And, yes, they’ve beefed up their stance a bit since then, but what’s that  Maya Angelou quote about believing someone when they show you who they are? It’s that. It’s what Cory Doctorow describes as the enshittification cycle. Substack raised a lot of VC money, so they’re going to have to eventually justify that valuation in some extractive way; Ghost was Kickstarted and bootstrapped, and I increasingly believe that’s a better model for building services people love. And then, there was also the fact that I’ve had the “official” Routine Chaos website for the studio, and it sat somewhere else that no one (including me) ever went, and I’ve been thinking, “Maybe I want to combine the two places into one.” And Substack never seemed like the right place to do that. And then, there’s the fact that some of the projects I’m doing don’t cleanly fit within the newsletter format, and while Substack does let me segment my audience if I wanted to experiment with different formats, it seems to mostly depend on a paid segmentation to do that…and I don’t want to go down that path. And then, I am interested in exploring ways that people could choose to support the newsletter if they wanted to…but I don’t think it has to be a subscription model, and that’s Substack’s only play. So, we’re here because I think Ghost offers me a lot more freedom over what I publish and how, and it gives me an easy way to make this my primary home on these here interwebs.
  2. I have his latest on pre-order, though, so that’ll soon change.