Note — Mar 01, 2020

A Text Renaissance

As Rao writes himself, this one is “a sprawling, messy hot take on the State of Textual Media.” He’s definitely gesturing at something I believe (a text renaissance is largely my “business model,” as it were) and throws together a few different useful ideas so have a read if his Roam / Substack / Static websites / Twitter thread is something you might be into.

Personally I’d characterize this more like Knowledge base (commonplace book) / Newsletter / Static / Twitter since I don’t believe the first two (especially Roam) will be the emblematic “things” defining this renaissance. Ok, maybe Substack but can we perhaps not throw all our eggs in one basket again? We’ve been there before.

Email today is now less a communications medium than a communications compile target. It’s a clearinghouse technology. It’s where conversations-of-record go, where identity verification happens, where service alerts accumulate, and perhaps most importantly for publishers, where push-delivered longform content goes by default. It is distributed and federated, near universal, and is not monopolized by a single provider. Now that a constellation of other product categories have hived off around it in the last two decades, it’s finally finding its own true nature. […]

I see several promising young writers already moving away from the blog as the main vehicle for online written expression, and building bespoke sites with weirder, more experimental structures, using Gatsby and its kin as the foundation. […]

While the unwashed masses flock to non-textual media like TikTok, we Very Online cognoscenti know that Twitter is where all the history-making, universe-denting social media action really is. It is as close to a pure ideas-commons/digital public as we’ll ever get. […]