While I’m innovative in some ways, in many other ways I lag behind. That is certainly true for clothes, music, and furnishings. And it took me ever so long to admit that a smartphone was a good idea. And as I started blogging in 2006 at an independent website, perhaps you can understand why it has taken me so long to switch to Substack. But as of today, here I am.
This was a bad change. The only thing Substack is good at is getting people to pay money; a killer feature if you need it like Scott, but you don't, presumably, intend to paywall OB. Otherwise, Substack is terrible blogging software: it struggles to do something as simple as super/subscript! (I think they might *just* have implemented that, 6 years and 100 employees later.) It also has nasty design: subscribe nagware all over the page, that horrible fullscreen ad that pops up after a little while, remarkably intense web browser load, aggressive collapsing of comment subthreads... You've broken a ton of OB functionality: the tags are all gone, browsing by month/year, the per-author post lists, the comment sidebar, and I've probably forgotten some other things inasmuch as there's no way to check now that the site is gone.
I was not a regular reader of your blog, but your book and your conversations with Agnes Callard are why I immediately subscribed. I don't really care about exclusivity and would be happy if my payment signaled more mindsalmostmeeting.
I think Arnold Kling has an interesting model. He hosts regular discussions with paying subscribers on Zoom, but all the written content remains free.
Any news on the comments? I am interested in some ones from the AI Foom debate
How about something on political bias? Tribalism is wrecking the country.
Lots to overcome and the identity game
I also want to express my love for Minds Almost Meeting. I can't wait for the next episode!
But Substack doesn't look as good as your old website did. And it is probably slower too. And now I have to change my OB scraping script :(. On that note, I trained GPT-3 on some of your works. It is private right now. Do you want access to the model?
Love your work. I understand most of it (OK - probably half of it). A topic i would encourage you to explore is coherence. I struggle to parse the general discourse. I concede that foundational differences often leave us on two sides of a deep ravine with no obvious bridges to use to cross (a la Sowell's Conflict of Visions) but i often find the arguments on any one side to be incoherent. For example a view that choosing your gender is ok but not your race. I freely accept that i am probably on the other side of the ravine on this particular view and no doubt suffer my own incoherent thoughts. Are there ways to build bridges ? Does it help (or hurt) to expose incoherence ? Is the incoherence a feature or a bug ?
Is it really the case that what people want to pay for is access to additional content? First, my hypothesis is that the value of your posts is, in a large part, derived from being able to discuss them with others (so, the widest possible access is desirable), and, in general, from introducing those ideas to the world. Second, I would guess (at least from personal experience) that paying for a blog like yours stems from the wanting-to-associate-with-elites drive.
I really miss the old comments so hope all goes well, as for paid content I think private discussions would probably be best.
Most of the content on my Substack is free, but I have a handful of paying subscribers and at times I post something for paying subscribers only (with a 50% free preview). I set the full subscription fee at the minimum allowed ($5/month or $30/year), and I think there should be a cheaper option (say $10/year). However, your blog is popular so I’m sure you’ll have lots of paying subscribers if you find a good model. Perhaps 1 post in 3 for paying subscribers?
Finally! You’re the last blog that I’ve wanted to move to Substack. Glad to have you here!