Very Short List: Like E-Mail, Only Better
If you haven’t had the pleasure of receiving the daily e-mails from Very Short List, I recommend you subscribe immediately. VSL produces one of the very few utterly unnecessary e-mails you will choose to read.
Very Short List is very short indeed: It contains a single item daily. It points to a book, website, idea, album, artist or. . .something that probably escaped your attention but shouldn’t. The items are often funny. Not ha-ha funny, but the-world-is-so-much-more-wonderfully-strange-than-we-realize funny.
Today’s e-mail features a website that features user-supplied examples of passive-aggressive notes posted in public.
Compared to Daily Candy, Very Short List is a double-espresso protein shooter, shaken not stirred.
It’s a model of brevity and usability. Its daily item is illustrated with a batty venn diagram [“Always Clickable!”] that locates the item culturally. It has intellectual roots in Spy, the brilliantly defunct fin-de-siecle magazine in which VSL co-founder Kurt Andersen was complicit. It’s funded by Barry Diller’s IAC, of all people.
VSL also raises the question for me about the future of e-mail–the one thing everybody agrees is the “killer app” of the Internet. A brief, focused, useable, brain-stimulating e-mail can accomplish a lot. Even if it’s supported by ads, as VSL is. Professional e-mail marketers often send out unfocused, joyless, self-promotional, rambling crap. It makes us hate mass e-mails.
E-mail isn’t the enemy. Bad content is.
Great e-mails–as 1.0, one-way, anti-social retro as the technology seems–may yet turn out to be one of the most powerful communication channels of the 2.0 era.