The Substack-lash has continued to smoulder as a slow burn trash fire for months.
After the events of this week however, my feelings have developed: As a company Substack have fucked it.
I’ve always tried to separate the opinion of media types from the platforms actions. Last year we were in a position where people were holding a platform to a standard that we hold no other online service and it was baffling.
Reading this week about the decision to make big offers to writers to onboard them to platform is an editorial stance. A thing they claim not to have. If you aren’t fully neutral then questions may be asked.
The situation might be different if they had made other (better) editorial decisions about who they were enticing to the platform. But they didn’t.
I think they should have gone down a Shopify route and moved into the background. Instead they chose to become a brand. Nobody has ever got any cachet for using Mailchimp or Tinyletter as their provider. Being on Substack should be no different.
The main difference in the situation between now and last year is that it’s Substack creators who are concerned about the platform, rather than the ‘very online’ snarky media folk.
A friend said to me this week: “I’m asking queer people to support me, then giving a big chunk of that to a platform which is directly paying transphobes to be MORE transphobic on their platform” Me: Fair enough.
If creators want to move/vote with their feet – they should and can.
It’s better for everyone. Better for online discourse, better for creators and better for the web in general. This is exactly what the ‘return to blogging’ weak signals have been about – platform independence. Social media is a cesspool and a huge waste of everyones time and energy. This is the reason I said folks should start a blog back in 2019.
As I also recommended last November; it seems creators are going to be moving to Ghost instances (or Revue) – Good for them. It’s a shame that www.comradery.co haven’t launched fully yet. Meanwhile WordPress are focusing on full site editing instead of paid creator tools, instead relying on expensive WP-Plugins to manage this space.
I still stand by what I said last year. EG: One of the biggest problems in that Substack took VC money. That we are now in the ‘The Alms Race’ I mentioned, and the move to user controlled and (eventually) owned services is accelerating. It won’t be long until Web3 enters the mix too, mirror.xyz is maturing fast. Eventually as the web gets redesigned around users and not platforms Verticals of One will become the default user paradigm.
A couple of things in closing:
- If you are paying for peoples Substack powered newsletters then don’t stop supporting people just because you don’t like Substack’s editorial decisions. The people you are currently supporting rely on your support to pay rent. Don’t withdraw it.
- If a creator decides to move, then make an effort to follow them. (I think(?) I’ve written about this before but it might be in my drafts) but I helped a writer plan their move from Patreon to a service just for fiction writers. We miss-judged to extent to which people had platform loyalty and they only managed to retain 1/3 of their audience in the first 30days. This had a devastating financial impact on the creator that first month. (it took about 90days of follow up contact emails to get back to ~80%) Since then they have gone from strength to strength.
- Everyone is going to need to get used to signing up to peoples websites. It’s a bigger mental hurdle and lacks any network effects. We are where we are.
- You can support me from .57p a week here.
Taking your eye off social media even for a moment reveals a greater danger. Deep down in the dark lies the Kraken of the social sea.
The Ministry Of My Own Labour
- Crushed by a report edit/deadline
- Crushed by an edit to the book chapter of doom
- Half wrote a different strategy report
- Began work on my DAO project write up
- A bit of workshop planning
Dipping the Stacks
“In every dream home a heartache: the Hapsburgian MCU, suburban cosa nostra, synthetic lovers, domestic realism, full-surrogacy, the falling rate of enjoyment, mothers & others, and how the sausage gets made.“
Curious Kingdoms: An Ongoing Review by momtaza mehri
“It’s difficult to write about Englishness as someone whose brain chemistry has been irrevocably altered by it. Englishness worms itself into the psychic recesses of the mind, into the synthesis of common sense, into the marrow of even those who actively resist its hold.“
“Anyone who has worked in finance or consulting grew up on it, learned to love it over thousands of hours of practice and improvement. Whether they realized it or not, they were becoming programmers, or at least no-code practitioners before the no-code movement took off. “Proficient in the Microsoft Office Suite” is so meaningless that it’s become a meme, but the ability to bend one specific Office program, Excel, to one’s will is a badge of honor.“
“Real world grand strategies are not planned. They emerge.“
Amazing Tintin art in the style of Edward Hopper. Giving Tintin both a romantic life and a presence in the domestic sphere.
The artist has been served cease and desist order by the Hergé estate.
Pariah – Dan Abnett
This is the first book in the final trilogy of trilogies in Abnett’s Warhammer 40k Eisenhorn series.
Out of print for 8 years its now been re released with its follow up book 2 (which I started listening to today). Its probably one of the best 40k novels I’ve ever read. It’s more like a YA in form – A Young woman with special skills is sought by various factions with conflicting and contradictory offers and ambitions for her.
But the best part of the novel is the city it’s set in – Queen Mab. As magical realist writing about cities go, this book is right up there with China Miéville.
Eisenhorn is getting turned in to a live action TV series. I hope it runs for like 10 seasons so we get to see an interpretation of Queen Mab on screen.
The Way Of A Pilgrim
This book arrived. I got it as an absolute steal on eBay, £2.50 with free postage as I’d bought from the seller before.
It’s really weird reading a 150 year old book about someone having their life changed by the same thing that has changed your life too.
Still reading Inside the Drama-House: Rama Stories and Shadow Puppets in South India. Chugging though it at 10 pages a night. It’s fascinating to see the Keralan puppeteers focus during large segments of the War Book is Ravana’s POV rather than Rama’s. The commentary that the lead puppeteer supplies to explain the poem is really interesting too.
I can’t believe these puppeteer families perform in ritual every year sometimes up to 60 nights in a row to an empty temple. Incredible part of human cultural history.
This week I have been listening to Bulgarian folk music. The version above is performed by The Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Vocal Choir.
I’ve also been listening to Russian Orthodox choral music on random from a huge playlist on Spotify. Just one of those weeks.
I’ve been smashing the edIT album still too.