People are most certainly traveling by highway for the 4th of July weekend at a higher rate than the last few years. We stopped in Hays, Kansas, yesterday at lunchtime and things were hopping. It was seriously busy. The Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers restaurant parking lot was completely full just after noon. People were really excited to eat at Freddy’s. I’ll admit the shoe string style french fries are delicious. Visibility is pretty good from the highway exit, you could see that the entire town of Hays was very busy around the intersection of the I-70 highway. Throughout the trip all of the gas stations we could see were super busy. Instead of just pulling off the highway and being able to buy gasoline every time we stopped we were waiting for somebody to finish pumping gas. We never got into a situation with a line depth greater than a single car, but we were close to that situation occurring. Normally pump space is available without any delay.
I have been very deeply considering working on some political coverage type of writing recently. Generally, I have refrained from sharing my political views online. That was probably an error on my part over the last 20 years. One of the paths forward on that front would be to just capture all those thoughts in a separate manuscript for now. At this point, I’m not going to start a politics blog. It would be a more likely outcome for me to start up a podcast that provides that type of coverage. My current podcast effort “The Lindahl Letter” only covers technology and the intersection of technology and modernity. Inherently within that intersection a certain degree of politics exists, but that is really the extent of my political coverage in that publication. Maybe it would be good at this point to explain that I really just want to write about the nature of civil society and the breakdown in the social fabric that is occurring. At some point, essays are going to be written about that topic.
During this epic summer vacation I’m planning to keep waking up with my silent Fitbit watch alarm at 0530 hours and completing a writing session before everybody wakes up. It’s totally possible that during the trip other opportunities will exist to engage in some writing. Right now I’m writing using my Pixelbook Go chromebook at a kitchen table. Nobody is awake. I’m listening to Pandora streaming audio and just working out some thoughts. This is for better or worse a stream of consciousness type of writing day. Right now Substack is loaded up with posts out until July 22, 2022. I was able to work far enough ahead on the writing and recording front that 3 posts are pending in the queue for distribution. It is possible that after I’m all warmed up here by writing this post my writing energy will shift over to working on more Substack posts.
Yesterday, I was watching my incoming emails and more people unsubscribed after my last post than at any time in the 75 weeks of my Substack publishing career. As an inflection point more people were exiting the subscriber count than were joining it at that point. To the best of my knowledge, Substack as a platform does not really have a bot problem. Most subscribers are really people who get emails as a part of the way the platform works. It is designed to disseminate newsletters from a writer to an audience using email. You could certainly run into a publication within the feed on the Substack website or some variation of that delivery model. Outside of people sharing a Substack newsletter on social media the overwhelming method of delivery is email delivery.
One of the major changes in delivery I made was adding an audio component to my weekly Substack writing campaign. That extended the modes of publication to include both podcast and email newsletter. Based on the statistics it appears that across all the various podcast platforms that get the RSS feed as many people listen to the podcast as read the email. I have tried my best to keep the podcast audio as pristine and professional as possible. People do seem to listen to those sub 10 minute podcast episodes. I think with those sometimes a person might listen to more than one of the episodes. With the newsletter it is a rather single serving type of thing as it would require a lot of work for somebody to get to previous editions. They would have to follow the links back to my main Substack landing page and navigate to a previous installment. Most of the podcast platforms pretty easily let people get to previous episodes. I think the friction to access older episodes is lower within the podcast ecosystems.
I’m still processing what part of my last Substack post caused people to want to leave the newsletter. As a platform, Substack systems handle all of that type of processing. That is one of the reasons I’m using Substack instead of the weblog where these words written right now are posted. The last post did have more of an investigative journalism type writing style than a pure scientific readout type perspective. It’s possible that maybe after 75 editions those readers were just exhausted from reading about machine learning and artificial intelligence each week. I have tried to keep my writing action packed, content filled, and on the shorter side of what an essay could be vs. going long form like an academic paper. You could probably say my efforts are more aligned with the research note framework compared to anything else. We will see what happens to subscriber counts as we move from week 75 to the two year anniversary of my Substack efforts at week 104. That milestone will be here soon enough. Time does seem to move along at an accelerating rate.