I have been thinking lately about several things I think are wrong with the internet, and I think newsletters are the epitome of a lot of them. Yes, the title is inflammatory on purpose, I actually believe that a broken internet led to the emergence of newsletters.
In a world where I can consume content with RSS feeds, there is no need for anyone to ask for my e-mail to send a message like: hey, I wrote something new. If IndieHackers could give me a feed to consume my personalized e-mails, I would opt-out from the newsletter and subscribe to the feed. It's a win/win, less infrastructure expenditure on their side, more control on my side.
However, RSS feeds were undervalued. Google closed Reader a long time ago. Twitter became a replacement for the public feed. New generations of bloggers, even if they are developers, are operating in the following context (the following was extracted from an e-mail I received personally):
honestly I've just never used RSS in my life! I'll have to look into it and see how it works with Gatsby, thanks for the nudge :)
And my reflection is not against newsletters themselves. I understand the marketing value of newsletters, the idea that you can validate a business concept by proving that people is willing to give their personal information to you.
Tools like zapier or ifttt can integrate RSS to social network channels because players like Facebook or LinkedIn never cared about two-way connections between platforms. A post on Facebook needs to be manually shared on LinkedIn or Twitter, a post on a website will never be picked up automatically.
And this path we've been following is what I think broke the internet. Instead of building interconnected systems, we are creating silos. We are forcing people to consume content on our terms. I don't give them the freedom to decide when to take a break to check the news, I send them an e-mail at a moment of the week that I've optimized for click-troughs.
And, as Indie Hackers, imagine the things we could achieve if, instead of closing down, we open up. Imagine if, for example, podcasts apps were not distribution channels but administration channels. As a content creator, forget about pushing to 25 different platforms, just publish a blog post, under your own terms. Or a closer example, imagine if the updates to my projects here on IH would be pulled from a centralized place (such as my blog), and they would also appear on LinkedIn or wherever I want. The infrastructure, the standards, are already in place.