It's Not All About Substack
Apologies for last week’s email announcing Substack Chat. When I dropped in my first thread, I didn’t realize they would blast it out to everyone. That said, I’m interested in continuing to use the chat feature as a way to have discussions, so if you have the Substack app, do please check it out.
It is clear that in the furor that has become Twitter, alternative platforms are quietly repositioning themselves to benefit. The one you might hear a lot about is Mastodon. I have had an account over there for a while now and if you have an interest, you can find me at https://mastodon.social/@fractals - and despite what you might read about how ‘hard’ it is to sign up for a Mastodon account - it really isn’t.
But today, I wanted to take a little diversion from the usual fayre and explore what Substack is up to (in case you didn’t know, this newsletter is delivered to you through their engines), because it is clear that they too are making a lot of moves to help facilitate meaningful dialogue.
As a newsletter publisher, I have historically tested out a number of alternatives - still do from time to time, but for my needs, Substack is the best. Not perfect mind you, but it definitely works. I am also a newsletter reader and so also experience newsletters as you experience this one.
The Substack App
For my part, I do like the Substack App, which is available on iOS and Android, but there is do doubt that it can be improved and judging by a couple of emails I received from people that took the time out to tell me - you agree. Enough to prompt me to write to them and highlight these points.
I fully expected them to reply with their usual ‘template reponse’. I wasn’t disappointed - albeit 7 days later - which I guess is a clear indication of how much traffic they are currently experiencing. (A year ago - I would get a response the same day). They told me that they would forward the email to the dev team - as expected! Nothing more since - as expected!
The People First Chat
In the past, you might have been part of the People First community spaces.
Groups.io - now defunct
Mighty Networks - now defunct
Podia - just removed my paid tier - but the site is still there.
To be clear and thanks to Stowe Boyd at Work Futures for highlighting my bad phrasing (see comments below) - the defunct label is in reference to the People First instances based on those platforms. The platforms themselves are very much alive and well. I even belong to a few of the communities they host.
Fair warning, unless you are getting into the world of QR codes or on a mobile - this isn’t for you, but it is clear that chat on the web is coming. How do I know that? Now when you click on the button, this is what you see.
As I write, the reply doesn’t work on the web - but it is clear it is coming because when I wrote that letter, the QR code was ‘front and center’. So, slowly but surely - steady as we go …
If you have interest, just 6 recent articles from Substack to fill your brain.
To end on a more People Firsty thought …
I was recently listening to musicians Serge Pizzorno and Guy Pratt talking when Serge mentioned his admiration for stand up comedians, observing that ‘us musicians get a few good tunes under our belts and we’re set for life - because so many people just want to hear you play the hits.’
Pratt has on occasions had a go at stand up himself …
“Exactly - if you are a standup comedian, people will find your material repetitive if you keep repeating the same lines, whereas a musician is often forced into delivering the same songs over and over - and god forbid that you even find variation in that.”
I’d never thought of it like that. But it’s true.
The People Firsty bit? That word ‘material’, whch also appeared in another line from the same conversation …
“I’m not about to waste my best material on a machine!”
If you have been following, you will know that I often wonder why creative people keep talking about how they need to produce more content. The word ‘material’ has served the creative industry very well for decades yet ‘content’ continues to be the ‘noun of choice’.
The Word You Choose Is Material
Because ‘material is substantial’, ‘content is ephemeral’.
In fact, the definition of ‘material’ …
Duties required for a significant and integral part of the performance of the member’s own occupation which cannot be reasonably omitted or modified.
To be content with your content means your material is not material.