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How Hey Email Could Save Blogging 2021

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Key Takeaways

Hey World is an ultra-simple blogging platform based on email.It's open, doesn't track you, and uses no advertising.Personal blogs are super important because they provide a context for open conversation on complex topics. Daniel Thomas / Unsplash

Users of the Hey email service can now blog, just by writing an email. You don't even have to "start a blog." You just write whatever you want to share with the world, and send it.

Anyone can read your posts, subscribe to them, and reply to them (via your Hey email). It's so simple that it could be the perfect antidote to locking your thoughts away in Twitter or Medium.

"We're absolutely targeting what the long-form writing people have been doing in tweet storms and on Facebook," Hey co-founder David Heinemeier Hansson told Ach5 via email. "Liberating their words from being used as bait for targeted ads, protecting their readers from being tracked up the wazoo."

The Death of Blogging

Nobody blogs anymore. Or, at least, only professionals write blogs. If anyone else has a thought they want to share, it gets simplified until it will fit into a series of tweets, or locked away in Facebook's members-only silo.

Meaningful conversation has been replaced by hot takes and knee-jerk overreactions. The context necessary for deeper conversation has been stripped away.

Without context, and the wider understanding that comes with it, a tweet may offend, appear insensitive, or seem outright bigoted.

"There are plenty of people who might have something to share with the world, who'd never think of 'starting a blog.'"

Think of the in-person conversations that happen inside ethnic groups, or other non-homogenous communities. Without context, a single sentence could seem racist or homophobic. In context, it could have deeper meaning.

Personal blogs offer some of this context. To start with, you might seek them out, instead of having them delivered by algorithms intent on increasing your "engagement," which is often a synonym for "outrage." And the longer form, itself, promotes more thought from both reader and writer.

"HEY World is a tribute to the bliss of writing for the sake of having something to say," says Heinemeier Hansson.

"Not because you're craving likes, because there aren't any. Not because [you] want to brag about your follower count, because we don't even show it. Not because you want to climb the trending list of the platform, because we don't have any."

Hey World

Hey World is built on Hey email. Anyone with a personal Hey email account can just send an email to [email protected] Write the email, send it, and it's posted.

You can include images, and you can edit posts after they have been published. All your posts will be available at a Hey.com/username page, and readers can either subscribe via email and receive it as a newsletter, or view it through an RSS reader. 

"Nothing to set up. Nothing extra to buy. Or configure. Or design. Or even think about!" says Heinemeier Hansson. "It's a real liberation in that sense, and we've already seen a huge surge of interest."

Nick Morrison / Unsplash

It's simple, it looks as good as Medium, and you own it. All your posts can be exported, and there is no tracking or other nonsense. But can it make a difference?

"There are plenty of people who might have something to share with the world, who'd never think of 'starting a blog,'" says Heinemeier Hansson.

"This is for them. It's for those who used to have a blog, but lost the spirit when they went to the greener pastures of Facebook or Twitter, and now they're having second thoughts about their complicity in those media regimes."

Two things need to happen to provide an alternative to Twitter and the like. One is that people have to write interesting things on the plain old web. The other is that those posts have to reach readers.

Ironically, it might be Twitter and Facebook that kickstart this effort by Hey. Because your Hey World posts are on the open web, you can easily tweet a link.

Replies are made via email, and there is absolutely zero barrier to subscribing once you find an interesting voice. You just type in your email address, and everybody has one of those.