February 22, 2021

"Hey, World!"

I've never had a personal blog.

It wasn't for lack of things to say, observations to share, or opinions to float.

It was primarily because setting up a personal blog was just too much of a hassle. It felt formal, it required yet another tool, yet another place to write, yet another platform to pay for just one feature. I had to pick a template, I had to think up a name, I had to make the relationship official.

I didn't want any of that. I just wanted to write. It's amazing how complicated it remains — even in 2021 — just to get your simple thoughts down in text, on the web, at a permanent URL, for anyone in the world to see.

Which is why Twitter has primarily been my publishing place of choice. Quick, short, easy. It's outstanding for that. Peerless.

But it comes with increasingly undesirable downsides. Newton's Third Law of Motion states that for every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction. Twitter's First Law of Tweeting states that for every tweet there's an unequal and opposite overreaction. Post something, and hear how you're wrong a dozen different ways. It's exhausting. I want to write, not fight.

But beyond that, I simply want to share more considered, extended essays. Longer-form stuff. Even just a few paragraphs. Tweetstorms are fine — and they have their place — but they're really a hack for a multi-paragraph, complete thought on a single page.

So I was thinking. Where do I write longer-form, single page stuff most often? When my co-workers are the audience, I always write in Basecamp. But when I want to send something detailed to someone else, anywhere else, it goes in an email.

Email is the internet's oldest self-publishing platform. Billions of emails are "published" every day. Everyone knows how to do it, and everyone already can. The only limitation is that you have to define a private audience with everything you send. You've gotta write an email to: someone.

So I thought, why not expand the possibilities here? Of course still let email be email, but what else could email be?

When I write a certain kind of email — aka a blog post — why do I have to address it to someone? Why can't I just address my thoughts to the world? Direct to the web for anyone and everyone? Rather than define the recipients, I just write and let the recipients find me.

Hmm! That might get me — and maybe many more — to (re)discover the joy of simply writing personal thoughts for public consumption. Sometimes you don't have to change the thing itself, but rather just make the thing considerably easier than it's ever been before. That's often the invitation you need to try something new, or jump back in again.

So we set out to do it. To test the theory. And over the last few weeks we built it into HEY, our new email service. We're calling the feature HEY World.

This post you're reading right now is the world's first HEY World post. And I published it by simply emailing this text directly to world@hey.com from my jason@hey.com account. That was it.

screenshot-of-addressing-email-to-world-at-hey-dotcom.jpg

For now, this remains an experiment. I've got my own HEY World blog, and David has his. We're going to play for a while. And, if there's demand, we'll roll this out to anyone with a personal @hey.com account. It feels like Web 1.0 again in all the right ways. And it's about time.

Speaking of Web 1.0, HEY World pages are lighting fast. No javascript, no tracking, no junk. They're a shoutout to simpler times. Respect.

As for me, I've been cataloguing a bunch of thoughts lately, waiting for the day where I could share them this easily. Now that publishing is as simple as sending an email, I plan on writing a lot. And, if you'd like to know when I publish something new, just enter your email address below and you'll get some of my favorites sent direct to you.

Let's see how this turns out. Thanks for reading.