Coming Soon: The Convivial Society, a Newsletter

I’ve had a Facebook page for this blog for a few years. I began using Twitter in 2011. For a brief while I experimented with Tumblr. In each case, the idea was to find an audience for what I wrote here. Lately, I’ve been rethinking my use of both Facebook and Twitter for this purpose.

Regarding Facebook, it no longer seems consistent for me to maintain a presence there. It’s the sort of inconsistency we ordinarily tend to live with, begrudgingly, because we imagine that we accrue some slight net benefit. I don’t even imagine as much, so, at no great cost to myself, it’s time to let that go.

Regarding Twitter, for most of the time that I’ve used the platform, I’ve done so awkwardly and half-heartedly. More recently, I’ve been more engaged with the platform, enjoyed more interactions, and have found that its use has come to feel a bit more natural. I’m not entirely pleased with the consequences. I find that if I imagine myself to be moderately well-informed about the negative effects of a technology, I’m tempted to imagine myself immune to them. Of course, this is far from the case. That said, I’m cutting back significantly on my use of Twitter.

While making these choices, I’ve also been thinking about alternatives ways of reaching an audience, something, of course, which I imagine most people that write care about a little. The end of that thinking led me to launch a newsletter. It seems at once more consistent and more effective. The newsletter is a simple, non-coercive tool: it arrives unfailingly until you no longer want it.

I’ve titled the newsletter The Convivial Society. The title is a nod to both Jacques Ellul and Ivan Illich, authors, respectively, of The Technological Society and Tools for Conviviality. The first is a thoroughgoing critique of a society given over to what Ellul called technique, which included but was not limited to technology. The second, while also deeply critical of industrial society and its technology, offered a way to imagine a world where our tools served more humane ends.

Together, they embodied the kind of technology criticism I think we urgently need.

The newsletter, as I envision it right now, will feature important news items and essays related to technology, links to what I post here, and readings from the tech critical canon. I hope to include not only tech criticism but also whatever might help us to imagine alternative ways of being with technology.

As for its frequency, only time will tell. I aim to send out the inaugural installment late next week. You can subscribe here: The Convivial Society. Please feel free to share the link, of course. I’d like to imagine the newsletter being a useful source for anyone who wants to think more critically about technology and society.

Finally, I am open to suggestions and feedback.

Posting will continue here as per usual.

4 thoughts on “Coming Soon: The Convivial Society, a Newsletter

  1. I have moved my news/media consumption away from Twitter (for the most part) to RSS and email and I like it. I think that may well be an increasingly common move, especially for people like your audience (and I hope it is). So I’m excited to see this. It is admittedly hard to “get through” emails, but I would rather live with that than with the slush of Twitter.

    1. That’s generally how I’m thinking about it. I did think, though, about the risk of further cluttering people’s Inbox. I figured that its easy enough to unsubscribe or just delete if that becomes the case.

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