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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Would my libertarian socialising work better if I embraced the social media?

Tomorrow evening, I have another of my Last Friday of the month meetings. Pete Comley will be talking about inflation, and about the book that he has recently published on that subject. More about tomorrow’s meeting in this posting at my personal blog.

What this posting here is about is something rather different, which is that since about last Christmas or thenabouts, many of the emails that I send out each month inviting my libertarian friends and acquaintances to attend my meetings have been going astray. Not all of them. Just quite a few, most especially any that end in “gmail.com”. They have either been diverted to spam folders, or else they’ve not been arriving at all.

It would appear that the big emailing enterprises, notably Gmail, have been cracking down on spammers recently, and Gmail in particular has now decided that my emails are in that category. It only needs one recipient of one of my emails to call it spam, and all the other users of Gmail (or whatever) are immediately switched by Gmail (or whatever) central command, often to their great puzzlement, to refusing to receive any emails from me, even individual and personal ones. Such as the ones I have been sending out to individuals, including to individuals I have been in close touch with for over a decade, to try to tell them about all this email disruption. Very tiresome. Very tiresome.

My meetings are a big deal for me. But for others, if the emails suddenly stop arriving, well, that may cause a twinge of disappointment, but there are other meetings, and the mysterious disappearance off the radar of mine is not their number one problem. So, the problem is mine, and mine alone. My motto for applying modern technology to my life is: do not unleash solutions upon circumstances which are not a problem. But now, I have a definite problem.

Several remedies have been suggested for my emailing difficulties. Pete Comley himself suggested to me a few days ago that I should use something called MailChimp. That, he said, should get me around those spam filters. That sounds like it might be a good answer.

However, I am also thinking that maybe I should make a bigger change to my life, and embrace the “social media”, those inverted commas indicating Old Man fear and befuddlement rather than any lack of respect for the media in question. I’m talking Facebook and Twitter, but maybe others also, the workings of which I know even less about. For Facebook in particular has also been recommended to me a couple of other friends as the answer to my meetings problems. And Twitter might also help in spreading the word about these meetings, and my words about other things, and my words about my other words and about the admired words of others, etc. etc. So, should I now jump into all that?

Samizdata as a whole has not done much in the way of social media-ing. We don’t have a problem so why bother with a non-solution? But maybe we do have a problem? Whether Samizdata does or does not have a problem, I genuinely don’t know, but I am certain that I do have a problem, to which the social media may well be the best solution, if perhaps not the only one. So, should this particular member of the Samizdata team perhaps be doing more with this twenty-first century version of chatting over the garden fence (if that’s what it is)?

Comments on my Samizdata postings are always, to me, very welcome, but comments would be especially welcome on this posting.

First, what about those Gmail problems? Has anyone else been suffering from, or heard about others suffering from, similar problems? I have talked with several people who have so suffered – talked face-to-face, or on the “telephone”, with those old things called spoken words about these difficulties, but can find nothing about all these dramas on the internet. I am trying hard not to blame this on the fact that I have been using the same mega-enterprise to do the searching as has been causing me most of my email miseries. My guess is that Google has been having recent very big problems on the email front, from the likes of the government of China, and that I am collateral damage in a war that dominates the answers to any searching by me for “gmail problems”.

And second, what of the social media? Comments of the sort that say that Facebook and Twitter are both works of the devil and symptomatic of the decadence, narcissism, frivolity, triviality, moral emptiness, etc. etc., of the modern world may perhaps now erupt at the bottom of this. Fair enough. If that’s what you think, feel entirely free to say so. But personally, although horribly ignorant of the workings of the social media, I am inclined to be far more respectful of them. Clearly, they do answer a lot of people’s needs. So, I’d especially appreciate hearing from people who do now use Facebook and/or Twitter, with a little bit of explication about what they use them for, and why, and how they are particularly helped, so that I can get an idea of what, along these lines, I could and should myself be doing. Maybe. Thanks in anticipation.

23 comments to Would my libertarian socialising work better if I embraced the social media?

  • Surellin

    That sounds like what Facebook was invented for. Why not post such announcements on Samizdata itself as well?

  • Mr Ed

    I find that Facebook is very good for keeping an eye on goings on in the aviation world, and also ‘following’ the likes of Peter Schiff etc. you could set up a page like the London Mises Circle and post items, notify events etc. you might have to pay for a non-personal page nowadays, that $100bn float takes a lot of feeding.

  • Brian, I am on Gmail and your emails always make it to my inbox. These things aren’t always as simple as they seem.

    The thing about MailChimp is that it is no guarantee of making it into the inbox. You might have the same issue with any email service. Nothing is foolproof.

  • Chip

    I would only write this anonymously of course but I have blocked most of my friends on Facebook and use it primarily as a news feed for stuff I like: space, tech, medicine, running races etc.

    As a social media platform I’ve tailored it to much what my pre-FB social life was like: close contact with good friends and family, and filtered out the inanities much like I would avoid someone at a party who wanted to show me their holiday photos from Disneyland.

  • Bod

    The major issue here is your audience – the primary benefit of using Facebook is that there are lots of people already there that can be nudged to your pages easily.

    If you’re looking to provide a social media platform to people who already know where to find you – or that you exist, and you’re not planning on creating a ‘buzz’, then you needn’t bother with Facebook, which tinkers with its privacy settings so frequently, you have no expectation of control over your presence.

    I’ll not go into an extended ad here, but you might like to look at unseen.is for your mail, and its sister-operation, seen.is for social media. It doesn’t hurt that you’d be endorsing a new business devoted to providing free (=cheap) services to people who are concerned about security and freedom. Based in Iceland, they’ll bludgeon you to death extolling the commitment of Icelandic legislation to digital security and anonymity (can’t be any worse than the US and UK, can it?)

    Unseen.is provides encrypted email, multi-person chat (text, voice and video), file transfer and a few other services.

    Seen.is provides a social media platform that allegdly won’t sell your details to marketers.

    FWIW, aside from warm fuzzies, I derive no direct benefit from endorsing these people. If nothing else, go get yourself a ‘throwdown’ email account.

  • Come to FB Brian – you know you want to 😀

  • Patrick Crozier

    I get most of my news from Twitter these days. It would certainly be a good way of promoting your blog.

    Email is probably still the best way of promoting your Fridays. The problem with FB is that there tends to be too much stuff and it’s not possible to even see all of it let alone read it.

    As far as Samizdata goes, its Twitter feed is very useful and it would be a good thing if more Samizdata writers were on it. There are probably some neat ways of promoting Samizdata on Twitter (over and above the feed) but I don’t know what they might be.

  • Nicholas (Natural Genius) Gray

    No, don’t do it. Your tweets would be too short for them (satire). They do have size limits.

  • Tedd

    I learned something from Google when I had a problem with a large email list I took over about a year ago. Google won’t send the same email to more than a hundred recipients. I don’t know how large your list is, but that could be a factor. I had to split mine into multiple lists of less than a hundred each. No problems since then.

  • CalFord

    Although I dislike Facebook and Twitter, I think you need to be on them if you want to grow your meetings. Ideally, you would also have a dedicated webpage. And a proper e-mail address that matches the name of the webpage, not a Gmail address.

  • knirirr

    There don’t seem to be any “of the devil” posts yet, so I hope you don’t mind me adding these links concerning Facebook (which I do not use) in order to rectify that.

    As for Twitter, I have found it a useful source of news and it can also be useful for advertising events, e.g. with a link to a blog post with more details.

  • agn

    Gmail does seem to have increased spam protection and I can confirm that several people I know (including clients) recently have been losing real mail. It is a bit worrying but I suspect Google will sort themselves out in the next couple of months.

    Meanwhile, Facebook is indeed “of the devil” and not something a libertarian should be involved with. It is fencing off a slab of the free, wild Internet, so that it can only be accessed by those in its clutches; meanwhile imposing its own rules and censorship on what is said there, while merrily selling off any content produced by its “members” (inmates, more like) to the highest bidder.

    Twitter, on the other hand, while containing a lot of stupidities along with the occasional nugget, is at least brief and very fast in getting a message out. Because you can incorporate a Twitter feed on your webpage, it is also available to all. And for lazy people like me, it is a very simple way of spreading the wisdom of others a long way very quickly.

  • I am using Twitter as of recent. I use it to point at Samizdata and to throw stuff at the wall that is not really Samizdata’able 😉

  • bloke in spain

    So sorry to hear about your & other’s problems with g-mail. If I were you I’d ask Google for my money back.

    (So weird to have libertarians, of all people, whinging about stuff they don’t pay good honest cash money for. Go on. You’re all secret Daily Mail readers, aren’t you?)

  • knirirr

    …whinging about stuff they don’t pay good honest cash money for.

    We’re paying by other means, of course.
    I’ve often thought that I’d much rather use a service like Facebook if they offered paid accounts with certain guarantees about how their data on me would be used. But, what would stop them running their algorithms on the data anyway? I’d only have their word for it.

  • Facebook is the work of the devil, but once you understand that and use it accordingly, it’s pretty useful. You have to be practical. Or else be Richard Stallman and only browse the web over email.

    And while Facebook is the thing of the day, it won’t always be. More important is maintaining the skill of figuring out how to get the best out of the current Thing Of The Day.

  • knirirr

    And while Facebook is the thing of the day, it won’t always be.

    I hope (probably in vain) that by not using it and encouraging others to avoid it similarly then that day may come slightly sooner.

    It can certainly be useful, and there are ways to limit the damage, if one really must.

  • bloke in spain

    If anyone wishes to know my opinions on Facebook, you will find them at my Facebook account: Perdu En France

  • Chris Cooper

    One datapoint for you, Brian:
    ..I’ve had no trouble receiving your emails via gmail
    ..I might miss announcements on Facebook
    ..I don’t use Twitter

  • Cal

    Even if you get your e-mail list working, that’s not enough if you want to grow. If you just want to have low-key sessions at home with like-minded people you already know, and a few friends of friends, then fine, just use e-mail. But if you want to entice new people in and make it a bigger thing, then you need social media, a website, and you need to be more pro-active in getting the word out through various channels.

    If the latter sounds like too much work, and something best left to energetic young thrusters, well, you’ve already done a lot of the hard work in organizing the speaker each month. Making it bigger from that point on is easier than you think, especially if other people come in who will start doing some of the work. In fact, it’s something of a waste to go to all the trouble of organizing such excellent speakers and then making it so hard for anyone other than your own social circle to come along.

    Believe me, I’ve seen this happen at close hand with something similar that started small and has now exploded.

  • Greg

    FWIW, my kids, ages 18-23, tell me that only parents use FB anymore. If that’s the main demographic you want to reach, well ok then. If you want to also reach under-30-somethings, then I suspect even Twitter is now ‘old’. Sorry, not much in the way of a solution for you and only a smidgen of perspective.

    Again, FWIW, I hope the demographic of Samizdata ALREADY includes a lot of 20- or 30-somethings! Does anyone know? Collecting such info sounds like…Something FB would do! Gack!

  • Greg, FB and other SM age and other demographics vary significantly among different countries, I suspect even within the Anglosphere. But if you are speaking about the UK, I have no further comment.

    Chris: you wouldn’t miss Brian’s announcement, because he would have set a FB event, inviting all his FB friends, and possibly allowing his FB friends to invite their FB friends (if he so wished). He would also put any information he found relevant on the event page, and he would also post updates of any kind, and possibly allowed his guests to post updates or things of interest relevant to the event.

    What Cal said.

    Yes, FB is the work of the devil, and so is Google – so what? Get to know the devil, and then it becomes the devil you know.

  • Brian

    I’m not sure you want to be inviting people to your home by way of a viral medium. You don’t have the capacity to scale in the face of success and how do you ensure ahem.. quality?

    Twitter you have access to already via @SamizdataBot and if you want it, Libertarian Home (which is also on Facebook and Google+). Just ask and I will make you a Buffer contributor.

    Facebook is not worth the cost of becoming a consumer if you want to be a producer on it. Not the place I would start if I were you.