Tim Bray’s summary of A Culture of Growth
(go read it, we’ll still be here when you’re done), the bit about the
postal system intrigues me, and I’d like to think it’s not just because
I’m one civil service exam away from being a third-generation
There are plenty of obvious downsides to a communication system as slow as
16th-century letter-writing, but let’s look at some of
Slow outbound communication means you compose carefully. If a
clarification might take weeks, you want to get it right the first time.
Asides are worth including. Your argument or explanation needs to be
Slow inbound communication means you read thoroughly. Unless you’re
dealing with Pepys-level correspondence, there’s no theoretically-better
letter about to arrive. You have what you have, and changing the subject
is slow, too.
There’s no expectation of voluminous, quick feedback. No hearts, no
stars, no reblogs, no comments.
Like the slow letters above, an individual issue is limited. Without
infinite scroll, you’re more likely to return to a story that didn’t
grab you on first pass.
When you see other people reading that week’s issue on the bus, at the
barber, you have an idea of what they’re reading. There’s a starting
point for conversation, even if it’s just “can you believe that
The advertising is shackled and passive. It can’t collect information
about you to sell later… which is probably why nobody wants to pay for
Again, the downsides of centralized control of a slower, less shareable
communication probably outweigh these benefits. But we’re still
I type up these posts and throw them into a hole. A few dozen of you might
add claps, but a post rarely prompts a reply, and almost never a
conversation. I mean, who has time for noodling about websites when the
country’s descending into a cruel fascist hellscape the next