What’s your thesis for Cybercultural? How has the internet changed since you launched ReadWriteWeb back in 2003? What underlying fundamentals remain true?
Cybercultural is an email newsletter focused on the intersection of technology and the cultural industries. As I noted in my launch post, you only need to look at the likes of Spotify, Netflix and Amazon to realise that digital technology has profoundly changed the way cultural products are produced, distributed, paid for, and consumed.
Cybercultural is also my attempt to tackle the problems that emerged from the Web 2.0 era – a.k.a. the read/write web, which is what I named my previous blog. While I’m glad Web 2.0 gave us the tools to become professional creators (if we have the requisite talent and perseverance), it also made it much tougher for creators—and cultural institutions—to make their mark in a noisy and often superficial online world. So with Cybercultural, I aim to be an advocate for professional creators and the cultural organisations that support them. The major challenges of this era are how to find an audience, how to get peoples’ attention, and how to make money. It’s a very challenging environment now, but I want to analyse these issues for the cultural industries and help find solutions.
As for the format, I chose to run it as a subscription email newsletter using Substack. Email newsletters are a format that has never really gone away, unlike blogs – which have, unfortunately, become much more difficult to run nowadays due to the demise of online advertising and RSS Readers. And we can no longer rely on social media to disseminate our content, due to the increasingly opaque algorithms of Facebook, Twitter, et al.
Plenty has changed since I launched ReadWriteWeb in 2003. The business model most of all. RWW made most of its revenue via online advertising and sponsorship, but that’s very difficult these days – Facebook and Google have squeezed indie bloggers out. Also there’s a lot of noise nowadays, mainly due to social media. As for what underlying fundamentals remain in place, I think it’s that anybody can still create something new on the Web and give it a fair crack in the open market. Whether that’s a niche media publication, like Cybercultural, or an indie author self-publishing on Amazon’s platform, or a musician uploading their music to Bandcamp. The tools are even more plentiful now than they were in 2003, so fundamentally the read/write web is very sound. But the business models are difficult to break through, and it’s exceedingly difficult to get peoples attention nowadays.
Complement with my IndieHackers interview, how to publish your fiction, and three pieces of advice for building a writing career.
Get new posts delivered straight to your inbox: