It's not until you start documenting something that you realise how much is actually involved.
A GitHub repository for the (b)log-In system is now live which includes basic installation and usage instructions in the readme.
I changed my mind.
I'm not sure if this will be just a one-time thing or whether I will keep it up to date with any changes. I don't necessarily expect anyone else to use it (it is very specific to my needs) but I have had a number of people ask about how I did certain things so thought I might as well put it out there. If you spot any issues or just have questions feel free to raise an issue, ask here or drop me a mail – colin @ this domain.
Reading Robin Sloan's approach to his newsletter is thought provoking:
"About six months ago, I changed the way my email newsletters work. Instead of including the entire body of the (often substantial) dispatch in the email, I now send out a link to a lightweight web presentation."
That's right, he doesn't send a newsletter but a link. Advantages, as he sees them, are the ability to correct errors, make updates, include videos (which we all know don't play well with email, and sometimes RSS for that matter) and have the ability to design something far more creative than "plain text in a long, perfect block..."
While all the rage, he sees newsletters as "a drastic regression" — "a melancholy thing: a retreat into the last known digital communication technology that allowed a person to reach a group of fans/followers/subscribers/customers in a reliable, predictable way."
The newsletter as just a mechanism idea deserves thought. Sloan counters the common argument that a good newsletter feels like a note from a friend saying that this just isn't enough to outweigh the benefits of a web page and what can be done with it. Maybe it depends on what you're after.
Sloan may have a response field and then update the "newsletter" with some of the replies but I prefer the intimacy of the 1-2-1 relationship that can build within the email environment. Web pages can indeed be flexible but they are, by their nature, public — or, at least, semi-public if restricted to a specific audience. Email conversations off the back of newsletters are truly personal, even if the original missive wasn't.
Email may not be the most exciting canvas for those of a creative bent but it is, as he mentions, reliable and sometimes that's more important.