Everyone knows that blogs are dead. (Uh, except for this blog, obviously.) And I've been noticing a lot of newsletters popping up lately. I've subscribed to a couple newsletters in the last few months—I enjoy Warren Ellis's newsletter, Orbital Operations, which includes a little bit of self-promotion but also contains a lot of interesting thinking about the writing of comic books. And Lena Dunham on Twitter introduced me to The Skimm, which is a very short daily briefing-style e-mail that covers a handful of major news stories a day, explaining the context and origins of the day's news in easy-to-understand language.
Rebecca Greenfield, writing for Fast Company, traces the return of the internet newsletter to the death of Google Reader. A representative from [newsletter hosting service] TinyLetter told her that there was an uptick in users just as Google pulled the plug last year. Some of us switched to other RSS readers, nevertheless a number of bloggers saw their community and traffic take a hit, and posted less as a result. (By the way, Aaron Straup Cope has a tool to read TinyLetters with RSS). Sara Watson told me TinyLetter is one of the sponsors for “99% invisible,” a podcast with an audience of a number of bloggers and former bloggers. There’s another reason why people are turning to newsletters to publish content now: it is a not-quite public and not-quite private way to share information.
McNeil's piece also includes links to a bunch of interesting-sounding newsletters, many of which I've signed up for. Newsletters are something I look forward to, a more intimate way to learn about the news, one perspective at a time. This isn't an either-or proposition—no matter what the headlines say, blogs aren't going to go extinct, because some stories are best suited for a blog format—but I'm glad to see this very different style of writing make a comeback.