Chats, Notes, and Patrons
A brief welcome to the Convivial Society and update about new features
For the past few weeks, I’ve had it in the back of my mind to send out a post that would be something like an orientation to the Convivial Society. I used to include something like that at the start of an installment after an influx of new readers. I’ve mostly gotten away from that habit and have been content to link to “A Brief Orientation to the Convivial Society” from 2021. That still works pretty well, and you can check it out if you’re so inclined, especially if you’re relatively new to the newsletter. Basically, here’s what I’m up to: thinking critically and deliberately about technology, particularly its relationship to our moral projects (seeking the good life and the just society, for instance), while drawing pretty indiscriminately on a variety of disciplines and traditions of thought to do so.
Here, I’d like to mostly to say a bit about how I might be experimenting with some newer features: Chat and Notes. Before I get to that, though, just a quick word about how I think of paid subscriptions.
I launched the paid option for the newsletter at the start of 2020 on a patronage model. All of the writing is public. I’ve chosen not to put any of the work behind a paywall. But, that said, this newsletter is not merely a hobby, it is also an important part of how I make a living. So, if you find the work valuable and if you have the means to support it, please consider becoming a paid subscriber. The idea is to uphold two principles simultaneously: no one should be excluded because they cannot pay and writers should be fairly compensated for their work. I believe the patronage model is the best way to honor both of those principles. If you’re so inclined, you can subscribe at the standard $5/month or $45/year rate. You also can choose to subscribe at the Supporter tier for $100/year or a larger figure of your choosing. While all the writing is public, paid subscribers are able to comment on posts and also receive occasional discussion threads.
Alternatively, if you’d like to support my work but the usual rate is a bit steep, here’s a 25% discount you can use:
Now on to the new features. I’m rather fond of the limits and pacing of the conventional newsletter format. And that format, as I’ve come to deploy it—mostly long-ish, deliberately paced essays delivered to your inbox—will always be the heart of the Convivial Society. I’m extremely resistant to the idea of adding more noise to your feeds.
That said, here’s what I’m trying out. First, Notes, which was just launched this week. It is something akin to Twitter: a feed of relatively short posts from people whose newsletter you’ve subscribed to plus writers that they recommend (readers can also post, but I’m not sure how that is working). So far, it’s been a pleasant experience—far calmer and saner than Twitter—chiefly owing to its limited scale. I’m not entirely sure what uses I’ll put Notes to, but I’ll be playing around with it a bit, so take a look if that sounds like something you might appreciate. Just tonight I tried out posting a couple of paragraphs from the draft of a forthcoming installment.
Chat is a slightly older feature, which I’d not really been inspired to use until recently. As the name implies, it is a space to host conversations for subscribers of a newsletter. The idea is that authors post short prompts, thoughts, or updates to spark a discussion. I may do something like that, but mostly I’m thinking of it as a way to chronicle my efforts to get to know my place a bit better in the spirit of this post from last December and Christopher Brown’s. So mainly things like images and observations from my walks. I can easily see how that might not be of any interest to anyone, but who knows? Perhaps it can be a place for you to share your own encounters with your corner of the world and to chat with other subscribers. I will be limiting Chats to paid subscribers, though, chiefly to keep the scale somewhat more convivial. We’ll see how it goes.
To join Chat, I believe you may need to download the Substack app, but you can also access them through a web browser. The difference, I think, is that notifications will only come through the app if you choose to enable them. When I start the first chat, you will get one automated email notification, but after that there will be no emails related to Chats or Notes sent to your inbox. If you have any questions about either feature, you can check out Substack’s support page or send me an email.
So there you have it. As always, thanks for reading, sharing, and supporting the Convivial Society. I’m incredibly grateful and still more than a little surprised that you’re out there reading my words.