Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur
jducoeur

Are newsletters obsolete?

Okay, time to toss out a point that may be controversial. (Or might not -- I'm curious.) As I read through the new Society Policy on Kingdom Newsletters, I am coming to the conclusion that the whole concept has failed to keep pace with reality. SCA newsletter policy -- indeed, the whole way we think about such things -- feels like those poor newspapers that are flailing around, trying to stay relevant in an age that has passed them by. And like them, I think we need a complete rethink.

So here's an assertion: "newsletters" no longer make much sense in the current SCA. Sure, there are some warm fuzzies from getting them, but most people, most of the time, ignore them. Their content is usually quite out of date by modern standards -- most folks are used to quicker information turnaround, on the order of hours or days, not months. They tend to be full of boilerplate that is mostly better obtained from websites. They are mired in red tape that discourages the sort of creativity that would make people actually interested in them. And they're decoupled from the ways people really are communicating: email, websites, social networks, and so on.

Yes, there are exceptions, and yes, I'm aware that not everyone in the world is Internet-connected. But not everyone has reliable addresses or phone numbers, and that doesn't stop us from building our procedures around those assumptions. Everything in the world has exceptions; if you try to cover every one of them, you'll just wind up with a mess.

That said, newsletters used to serve a really important purpose: as a *common* communications mechanism. You could usually assume that all the really active members of Carolingia not only received but paid at least some attention to the Minuscule; and while not everybody *read* Pikestaff on a regular basis, almost everybody had it, and in the pre-GPS days most people used it regularly for directions to events. That served as social glue that we are sorely lacking nowadays, scattered as we are across dozens of mailing lists, websites, social networks and what have you.

What's the solution? I don't know, but I'm looking for ideas. Can we at least partly unify the communications, so that you could follow Carolingia via email or Facebook and participate in the same conversations? Could we build the Minuscule partly/entirely as a summary of those conversations -- a sort of official record of what's going on?

Other ideas? How can we recognize the reality of modern communications, and weave together something that is actually *useful* to us, that could help us unify instead of just fracturing further?

(I'm aware that SCA rules and regs might interfere with this. Ignore that part: this may be one of those times where Carolingia could helpfully lead by example, if we can come up with some good ideas...)
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