Provoking thought

Plus is the new Stack

I like like to shake things up from time to time. Something’s been working, so… let’s change it. Sometimes without overly solid reasons. Any change is good, right?

Then, only once the change has been made, I come up with a rationale of why this was a necessary and obvious move.

This may be one of those times. You be the judge.

I’m rebranding and moving The Muselet off of Substack onto a domain I bought some time ago, but never found a use for: Not only that, I’ve also migrated most of the content from there as well. Probably, after I clean things up, I will point to

Why Zef+? I figured, we have Apple TV+, Disney+, even Pushkin+ so why not Zef+?

It’s a subscription service, except with fewer princesses and less science fiction (but more management fiction). There’s no video, so less bandwidth usage, and it’s free. So, it’s better, I guess?

You may ask how much of a narcissist you have to be to call a publication after yourself. And I have considered giving it a more generic name. I considered for some time (a domain name I happen to own). However, then I realized that most of what I write is really my personal perspective (f.k.a. musing), padded with my specific sense of humor (that not everybody always gets), based on my stories and my thinking. In other words: this is me (not to be confused with This is Us, which you can watch on Amazon’, which really should have been called Amazon+).

There are plenty of impersonal business or management sites out there. If you want generic management material, go read HBR or something. No more of that. We need more content with personality.

And yes, I happen to have a relatively unique first name and I’m going to exploit that fact. So, Zef+ it is.

Postfixing anything with a +, now has the connotation of a subscription service. And actually this was something I was looking for.

Once upon a time, there were blogs, and people subscribed to them via RSS in their RSS reader. Google Reader was the most popular one. Then, Google canceled Google Reader and largely the popularity of feed-based reading stopped. What replaced it were social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. However, social networks have their algorithms that server their own masters, and therefore it’s becoming an increasingly unreliable way to get your content pushed to people who are interested in it.

In this sense, e-mail newsletters are a better, more reliable solution. Assuming you use a service that can actually reliable deliver e-mail without being caught in spam filters.

So, about a year and half I started The Muselet on Substack. It’s been great for two reasons:

  1. The subscriber base has slowly but steadily grown over time, and I’m getting some good feedback on the topics I write about.
  2. There’s an implicit promise to send out an issue every week, which has been a valuable life hack to force myself to produce something not completely nonsensical on a regular schedule. I have missed only a few weeks over the past year and a half.

However, there are a few challenges.

Many of the emails I send out, I actually want to publish on my website as well. In principle, they are all available on the substack site, but honestly, I prefer to link people to my own site. So, I usually end up cleaning up my post, and publishing it on as well, a week or so later.

However, people (for whatever reason) share links and comment. People share links to the Substack version of posts, and sometimes comment there. Others pick up the version, and link to that. Sometimes I make corrections or improvements, but only to the version, so now we have two out of sync versions.

More recently I decided to work to bundle some of my writing into a book, and this makes the situation even worse. Now there’s three versions to maintain.

I do all my writing in Ulysses. Ulysses has nice export features, for instance to certain blog engines, as well as PDFs, ePubs and so on. A while ago, they added support for Ghost.

Ghost is an interesting company and project. Ghost started out as a simple blogging engine, but then expanded into newsletter territory. It makes it very easy for people to become “members” of your site (potentially with paid options), and as a result get posts sent to them via e-mail at the the moment you publish something new. There’s ways of extending this more down the line, and for instance enable commenting using your member account.

This makes it a great fit for what I’d like to do: have one source of truth (Ulysses) and publish stuff to my website, newsletter and book.

So there you have it, Zef+ is here.

So, congratulations, you have been upgraded from The Muselet to all become Zef+ members. No need to do anything or sign up again, I migrated you already. You’re welcome.

Just don’t panic if tomorrow’s email comes from a different sender and has a slightly different look.

Let’s see how this goes.