Why Subscribe to One More Thing?

A reader of my newsletter (Hi Minnow!) recently asked me the following question:

This is off topic, but i have this immense inertia to start a newsletter. Yours is inspiring in the sense that you’ve taken away the agenda and just made it a place where you can share your heart. What’s been the benefit of this for you both personally and professionally?

I thought about this a long time (over a month) before I sent my answer but I feel like what I said sums up why anyone might want to subscribe to it…

The benefit is that I feel this best honors the reason why people might subscribe to my newsletter versus simply and solely reading my other work (books, blogs, etc.) I started by asking myself what makes “one more thing” from me worth the time and attention? How can I give people any more than what I already give elsewhere?

The answer to this question was to go deeper and more personal. A person’s inbox is a private space where relationships are formed. Therefore, people only invite in people they trust, respect, and wish a deeper level of engagement. People they’d like to get to know better. This is what I try to deliver with my newsletter.

Because of that, I reciprocate by giving those who read it the same level of respect, trust, and engaged relationship readers give to me. I respond to every reply I receive (even if it sometimes takes me a while) and consider those that read my newsletter friends.

So, I guess that’s the best answer I have. It helps me form, maintain, and cultivate friendship with all that subscribe. And, in that way, it helps me both personally and professionally because in my line of work there is little hard distinction between the two.

So, if that’s something that resonates with you, I invite you to read the archives to get a further sense of what I offer there or to go ahead and subscribe.

Algorithms Don’t See

United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously quipped “I know it when I see it” in describing his threshold test for obscenity in Jacobellis v. Ohio. The problem with this threshold, of course, is that everyone’s opinion of what is obscene and what is not is different.

For instance, to some, the work of Helmut Newton may be art. To others, it may be smut. But, thankfully, we all have the free will to decide such things for ourselves.

Of course, there are some things I think almost everyone can agree is not OK. Child pornography perhaps being the best example.

And, therein lies the problem with Tumblr’s direction in attempting to ban all porn from their platform. Instead of doing the very hard and very human work of figuring out how to best prevent those things we can almost all agree we know are not OK, they are taking the easy, broad, far reaching, and non-human approach of allowing an algorithm to decide.

Algorithms don’t see. Furthermore, they lack context and nuance. We’ve yet to reach an accurate AI based threshold test for “I know it when I see it.” Because of this, Tumblr’s plan to unleash such a tool to ban porn is not going so well and will likely be the company’s downfall.

A Christmas Day Plan

We generally host our family Christmas celebrations on the Eve, as is tradition in my wife’s Norwegian heritage family. Christmas Day itself has generally been spent with my wife, daughter, and I over at a friend’s house. Those friends are out of town this year, thus leaving us to come up with another plan.

My wife and I have settled on the following idea; about mid morning we’ll start up the fire, light some nice smelling candles, lounge around in comfy clothes, put on some quiet music, and read books all day. But we’re going to make a “thing” out of it and invite any of our friends in town who wish to join us to stop on by with a book of their own. We’ll have some drinks and snacks around for people to enjoy as well. All we ask is that you come prepared to keep things library style and enjoy a bit of peace with us this day.

When throwing around and idea of what to officially call this event my wife came up with the perfect name…

All Is Calm

Of course. What else could it be?

This is the first time I’ve looked forward to Christmas this much since childhood.

Note: Feel free to take this idea and make it your own. If you can’t do this on Christmas Day, do it another time.

Observation: I’ve recently noticed people using the word “Uber” when taking any ride sharing service. “I’ll uber to the venue”, they’ll say, even when using Lyft.

Uber is quick on it’s way to being the Kleenex of ride sharing.

Grateful for the flights to and from New Orleans as they allowed four hours total of (occasionally and briefly interrupted) reading time.