It's Getting Better All the Time

I receive the most criticism when I post about positive things happening in the world. I find that fascinating.

It could be because a lot of people rely on negative outlooks to fuel their jobs, hobbies, or identities.

Steven Pinker experienced this himself on a grand scale when he published Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress one year ago. He has since been called every name in the book, even though his work is based on science and math, and should be considered a rather sober account of the progress of humanity.

Yesterday he published a long article examining the strange reaction to book.

“The question of whether progress has occurred is matter not of “optimism” but of what Hans Rosling calls “factfulness”: calibrating our understanding of the world to empirical reality. If measures of well-being, such as health, prosperity, knowledge, and safety, have increased over time, that would be progress. In fact, they have.

Since progress does not mean that the world is perfect, only that it is better, acknowledging progress does not mean being indifferent to the very real suffering of people today, nor to the very real threats that humanity continues to face.”

It’s a long, thoughtful look at why you publish about progress at your own peril, and why you should do it anyway.

Craig Mod on What Makes a Good Newsletter

Craig Mod, prognosticator of publishing, recently tweeted about newsletters:

“There's a tendency to over-design newsletters as of late. I think this misses the point, the *power* of a newsletter is from its intimacy. You can design intimacy out of an experience by scrubbing voice, grit.

The best newsletters feel like nice letters from smart friends.

My favorites newsletter either:

1) have a super strong voice, and therefore I don't care how long they are, will joyfully follow them to the end of the world

2) are mega concise, and serve to highlight just a handful (3? 4?) of gems”

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard about under-designing a newsletter. Tobias van Schneider has also talked about this with his super-successful newsletter about design (which he refuses to call a “newsletter”):

“To be honest, I sometimes think it’s a bit too nice. I like to keep it simple; I want it to look less like a newsletter and more like a personal email.”

Tinyletter makes this kind of personal style easy, but if you’re looking to do this with a more fully-featured service, good luck. It can often be harder to make a newsletter look under-designed than over-designed.