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My Email Newsletter for 2013

My next project is to stop publishing anything on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & Tumblr and spend all of 2013 updating friends via an email newsletter.

If you want updates from me during the year, please subscribe here and learn why below.


My ongoing goal is to create more than I consume. The ease of posting to social networks, gives me a false sense of accomplishing something meaningful. I want to spend more time thinking, creating & polishing stuff.

That’s not to say that it is impossible to publish meaningful content, for they are just the stage — the show you write, produce and broadcast is completely up to you. I just think it’s easy to get yanked into the short-witted drama of producing reality junkfood.

Take, for example, my photos of our 6 month trip across Europe. I started out the trip, with detailed observations and stories to accompany my photos. The last few months I fell back into the easy out… posting photos with no captions and leaving stories of bartering in Italian, free macaroons at Angelina’s, and our cross country train journey filled with mechanical failures.. all untold.

How can I set myself up with an experiment to encourage myself to produce less frequent, higher quality content?


By default, single-recipient emails do not encourage any specific behavior. In my inbox, there are one-liners from business contacts and essay-long life updates from friends.

But what about multi-recipient emails? If I had as many twitter followers subscribed to my email updates, would I publish a quick one-liner about something I overheard at the supermarket? Would I email a thousand people 3-4 times in a single day, each with a lone, caption-less photo?

I don’t think I would. I think I would choose carefully. So my next life experiment is to stop publishing anything on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & Tumblr and spend all of 2013 updating friends and family over email.


I get stories delivered to my inbox all the time. Seth Godin, The Listserve and Brain Pickings are 3 of my favorites. And I still think about just how good Jonathan Harris’ Project 365 was.

Reading these things in my inbox, instead of wandering over to a blog, changes my relationship. Subscriptions are an interesting relic of a past commitment. “This inspires me, give me more!” as I enter my email address.

Emails don’t care how busy or lazy you are feeling — and they don’t wait for you. Each arrival calls you to action with a new opportunity to learn, delete or save. And that big reply box! It beckons you to interact with the author. I’ve been friends with Simon for 6 years now because I replied to one of his VeryShortList newsletters.


The idea of ditching social networks for a personal newsletter isn’t new; there’s a Gigaom article from 2010 about Sam Lessin doing the same thing. He even launched a service around it called Letter.ly. And shortly thereafter Michael Galpert and Dave Morin, entrepreneurs I love+respect, joined in.

Part of their experiment was to prove that information is more valuable if you pay for it (all 3 charged a subscription fee) but I do think they felt a similar struggle to produce something deeper as well.

Examining their own usage made setting up my own experiment more compelling. Both Michael and Dave abandoned their lists after sending just 5 messages in 2010. Even the founder himself, Sam Lessin sent out 9 in 2010, 1 in 2011 and 1 in 2012. Alternatively, if you look at any of their Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram or Path accounts you can see hundreds, maybe thousands of updates over the past 3 years from them.

The sample size is tiny, but it makes me think that it’s difficult for the two to co-exist. How do you keep yourself motivated to create when you’ve already shared all your inspirations across tumbles, tweets and pics?


I’m running my newsletter on Mailchimp and plan on sending about one letter per week. Could be photos, life updates, app recommendations, an interview or something I made.

You can Subscribe Here.

Family gathering at Uncle Noodles house.

Family gathering at Uncle Noodles house.

1991 was the pinnacle of my tiny sailing career.

1991 was the pinnacle of my tiny sailing career.

We spent 12 hours in NYC. Got to see MSG, Arkadiy, Suki and Scotty K + drink some whiskey and absinthe!

We spent 12 hours in NYC. Got to see MSG, Arkadiy, Suki and Scotty K + drink some whiskey and absinthe!

Last night in Europe: Slept in, free breakfast, jelly stocking stuffers, worlds best hot chocolate (and free macaroons), Christmas shopping, hot spiced wine, parade, Shakespeare & Co, marching band at the Opera, worlds first Bloody Mary, walking in the rain, getting dressed up for a subway symphony, 2 for 1 leffe de noels and pizza room service gone awry.

Last night in Europe: Slept in, free breakfast, jelly stocking stuffers, worlds best hot chocolate (and free macaroons), Christmas shopping, hot spiced wine, parade, Shakespeare & Co, marching band at the Opera, worlds first Bloody Mary, walking in the rain, getting dressed up for a subway symphony, 2 for 1 leffe de noels and pizza room service gone awry.

Final night in Europe. I can’t believe how fast our little 5 month adventure went by.

Final night in Europe. I can’t believe how fast our little 5 month adventure went by.

Left a lock on plank 1002. We’ll come back and check up on you later.

Left a lock on plank 1002. We’ll come back and check up on you later.

Worlds best hot chocolate at Angelina. It felt like my brain was spinning in my skull from all the sugar mmmm

Worlds best hot chocolate at Angelina. It felt like my brain was spinning in my skull from all the sugar mmmm

The Grand Palais opened May 1, 1900. It’s home to all kinds of art and fashion exhibits. It even served as a military hospital during World War I, employing local artists that had not deployed to the front to decorate hospital rooms or to make moulds for prosthetic limbs. Ice skating inside was truly magical.

The Grand Palais opened May 1, 1900. It’s home to all kinds of art and fashion exhibits. It even served as a military hospital during World War I, employing local artists that had not deployed to the front to decorate hospital rooms or to make moulds for prosthetic limbs. Ice skating inside was truly magical.

Marriage proposal on the ice! I don’t know what country they were form but they were all chanting the melody for Seven Nation Army right before he proposed.

Marriage proposal on the ice! I don’t know what country they were form but they were all chanting the melody for Seven Nation Army right before he proposed.

Last night we watched the Christmas lights along the Champs, ditched wet socks for warm new ones, got free jelly beans, ate Nutella crepes, drank hot spiced wine, sang songs, watched two fights (same guys both times), ice skated in the Grand Palais and saw a successful marriage proposal in the center of the ice rink!

Last night we watched the Christmas lights along the Champs, ditched wet socks for warm new ones, got free jelly beans, ate Nutella crepes, drank hot spiced wine, sang songs, watched two fights (same guys both times), ice skated in the Grand Palais and saw a successful marriage proposal in the center of the ice rink!

The real reason to come to Paris

The real reason to come to Paris

Christmas festival down the Champs with food, crafts and rides.

Christmas festival down the Champs with food, crafts and rides.