#000 — Hi, hello, how are you?

Today is May Day — an excellent time for new beginnings and fresh starts. Here in Oxford the streets were packed in the early hours to hear the Magdalen College Choir sing ‘Hymnus Eucharisticus’ from atop the Magdalen Tower. I was still in bed, but I have other ways of celebrating rebirth and renewal: namely, I’m (re)starting this blog / newsletter.

At this point, I’ve been writing on the internet for more than two decades. I’ve maintained blogs under various titles, and for a while I also published an occasional newsletter. It’s something I get a kick out of: sharing the best of what I’ve been reading, watching, playing, and listening to, as well as neat things from around the internet that have crossed my screen. The shape of the modern social web makes me increasingly uncomfortable. For the most part my accounts on the various networks stay in private & read-only mode; the scale, and interaction dynamics of those platforms feel generally not worth the psychic toll of participating in them.

A personal blog is smaller, quieter, and far more manageable — likewise a personal newsletter. I subscribe to dozens of personal publications that resemble the scale and frequency I’m aiming for here. It’s regularly a source of delight to open my email, and find that a new issue has arrived. This feels to me like the ideal mode in which to share some thoughts, ideas, annotations, questions, links etc. Perhaps I’m betraying my age here, but decentralised blogs & newsletters (along with RSS!) still feel to me like the closest thing to the web we were promised. Advertising-supported, SEO-infected, hashtag-riddled clickfarms are increasingly the web we got, but that doesn’t mean that we have to like it.

So, if you would like updates from me via email, drop your address in the box at the bottom. I don’t get notifications about subscriptions, un-subscriptions, or anything else, and there will be no cookies, tracking pixels, or other deplorable internet shenanigans: it’s just an email, from me to you, every now and then.

I’m intentionally going to stop short of predicting what these newsletters will look like, or how often I’ll send them. At the moment I’m allowing myself the freedom to not adhere to even a self-prescribed structure. I will say that there will likely be a mix of personal stuff, alongside material from others that I’ve enjoyed. Here’s a sampling from this week:

  • I recently happened upon the visual art of Yul Vazquez — his frenetic paintings and comparatively quieter photography offer equally compelling ways of seeing the world.

  • My new daily word game obsession is Knotwords (from genius game designer Zach Gage) — think crosswords meet KenKen. It’s free to play on iOS, Android, & via Steam.

  • I revisited Pulp Fiction (1994) for the first time in a decade-plus, and took some (very freeform) notes as I watched.

  • It has now seemingly become a tradition for Kevin Kelly to gift us with advice on the occasion of his own birthday. I’ve posted about these wonderful lists before, but this week Kelly turned 70, and so we’re lucky enough to profit from a new list of 103 nuggets. (I guarantee you’ll find at least something in there that’s valuable to you, and maybe a lot.)

  • You can get Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula (1897), broken up into its epistolary chunks, and emailed to you between 3 May — 10 Nov. 

  • My song of the week is ‘Alibis’ by Jewel, but I also enjoyed revisiting The Offspring’s album Smash (1994).

Perhaps that gives you some idea of what these emails might look like; if it seems like something that you may find value in, drop your address in the box below. Also, because this is just email, you’ll always be able to hit reply and send me your own thoughts, suggestions, comments, and questions. I also accept poetry and short fiction.

OK, that’s it. I hope you’re doing well despite, you know, everything.


— Adam