The curious case of the rise of ‘internet of newsletters’

Sometimes, trends don’t tell the full story.

Trend #1: Email Overload 

An average business person sends or receives 108 emails a day, we waste 28 per cent of their time at work dealing with email and it’s the bane of most worker’s lives. We’re constantly striving for the fabled ‘inbox zero’ and fed up with being inundated with unnecessary and time consuming mail. There are books, businesses and even whole industries dedicated to reducing the time spent dealing with the issue. They pile up when we’re on vacation, represent a constant battle to stay ahead and with smartphone penetration rising, take up more and more of our supposed ‘leisure time’.

Trend #2: The Information Economy

The world has never been so connected. We’re active across a variety of constantly evolving social channels that fragment our attention, we’re never not connected any more and we get our news from a variety of disparate and 24 hour sources. McKinsey has coined the term ‘information overload‘, research has shown that many of us are suffering from diminishing attention spans. Take into account an unceasing rhythm of daily meetings, torrents of  information, and an expanding variety of means—from the ever-present telephone to blogs, tweets, and social networks—through which we can connect with their friends and organisations, and you have a recipe for exhaustion.

And yet, with email such an annoyance and information overload in effect, the humble newsletter is once again becoming the communication method of choice for thought leaders. 

I was thinking about my news and journalism consumption habits during the week, and it struck me that most of the great journalism I seek out and relish reading comes not from social media (although Twitter is a goldmine), but directly into my inbox.

I never fail to miss mails from Ben Evans & Ben Thompson for tech strategy.

The incredible MediaREDEF and FashionREDEF offer me the best cultural, sport and marketing links of the day in one neat package.

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Dan Hon’s Tiny Letter offers a contrarian view of the advertising landscape.

Ryan Holiday’s reading list email has been a treasure trove of great books that I would otherwise never have unearthed.

Andrew Chen sends me his thinking on startups and Silicon Valley.

Even tech mogul Mark Suster is getting in on the act with ‘Both Sides’.

The list goes on and on and on.

No, this isn’t 2003, welcome back to the ‘internet of newsletters’!

For me, I put the rise in importance of a ‘personal brand’ as one of the key reasons for the continued resurgence of the newsletter as a point of information gathering. Witness the rise in personal brand journalism from the likes of Ezra Klein and Nate Silver for an example of how building your own following can create huge opportunities.

Or perhaps it’s also an attention anomaly? Think of it this way, once you open an email, you’re only reading that email, whereas on Twitter for example, your feed is shifting in real time before your very eyes.

Whatever the reason, Twitter have recently rolled out a ‘cards’ option for those looking to collect newsletter signups that’s incredibly effective , so the ‘internet of newsletters‘, while it has never gone away, is certainly seeing a new dawn.

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Stick your name down for some of the above, particularly MediaREDEF if you’ve an interest in tech, sports or culture, and by the by, you can sign up to my newsletter on the right… 😉