4 min read

Newsletter Recommendations

Here's the neighborhood you're in right now. These aren't the only newsletters I read, but they're the ones that have most influenced this one, or that I find the most consistently interesting.
Newsletter Recommendations
Photo by Mason B. / Unsplash

Remember blogrolls? I'm mostly not nostalgic the pre-social internet, because I remember the drama – the only difference between then and now is that there are more people – but blogrolls were great. You could tell what neighborhood you were in by who linked to who, the big anchor blogs that defined a topic, and the little niche sites that told you that the linker was really in the know.

I'm Nat Bennett, who first became the tiniest bit internet famous for explaining why marketing isn't evil to online roleplaying game bloggers, and this is Simpler Machines, the newsletter that's sort of about tech and sort of about psychology and that I'm still trying to figure out how to describe.

Here's the neighborhood you're in right now. These aren't the only newsletters I read, but they're the ones that have most influenced this one, or that I find the most consistently interesting.

Baldur Bjarnason

Web development, interactive media, digital media, the big arc of technical trends, taste, Iceland. Available for hire, incidentally, if you're in need of an expert in any of those things, or an expert in writing about them.

Life is a Sacred Text

Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg writes about the Five Books of Moses, chapter by chapter. Judaism. Women and LGBTQ. What the Bible has to say about deadnaming. Angels, herds, family drama. Repentance, atonement, forgiveness, but like, the real stuff, the hard stuff.

The Prepared

This one's a team effort. Modern manufacturing. Supply chains. Great stories about physical objects. Membership program to create "a community of excellence in engineering, manufacturing, and infrastructure."

Craig Mod

Walking, writing, travel, journalism, photography. Roden and Ridgeline continuously, other newsletters seasonally. Obsessively crafted book about pizza toast, but also, generally, cafe culture in rural Japan.

Robin Sloan

Fiction. Writing on the internet. Some tech stuff, but a view from the edge. Don't know much about this one yet. Just subscribed to various newsletters. His advice to newsletter-ers has already changed how I'm approaching mine, though.

Sitting Pretty

Interior design. Very expensive chairs. Why the stuff in our homes looks the way it does. By Tyler Watamanuk, a New York writer and producer who primarily writes about design, fashion, and culture. Probably the newsletter I forward the most. "Hey look at this dinner plate."

Amy Writes Words

Software engineering management, tech industry in general, mental illness, photography. Among other things. Probably the newsletter that's the most like Simpler Machines. She also writes Woe: Mental Health Tips You'll Hate From The Saddest Woman In the World, which is what it says on the tin.


Speaking of seasons...

In a few weeks, I'll have been writing weekly for six months, which feels like a good length for the first "season" of this newsletter. I'll probably put it on hiatus at least briefly, and then re-launch for a "Season Two."

In the mean time, I'm mulling over some shorter newsletter projects I might try, as a sort of a palate cleanser.  Possibilities currently include:

  • I learn Elixir/Phoenix by building something and writing about it
  • "Feasts," a weekly newsletter about getting through the dark, cold months by eating together
  • Still life photographs
  • Street portraits
  • Dog photography
  • "Leadership Lessons from The Wire"
  • "Leadership Lessons from Star Trek"
  • Reviews of niche hobby products that dominate their niche – things like Noodler's Ink
  • Reviews of Oakland coffee shops
  • "If I Could Give It No Stars I Would," links to reviews of Safeway deli counters and other things that shouldn't be reviewed
  • I watch and review every episode of Star Trek: Enterprise

Do any of those particularly appeal? Write in to let me know.


Jobs

One of the Labs-like consulting agencies that's sprung up recently, Melostat, is looking to hire an Angular/Angular JS + Java + Spring Engineer. Austin/Remote, $175-$200k. If you have experience in that stack and are looking for the "show up, write code, go home" experience, get in touch. They're also looking to hire a Full-Stack Designer (Research/UX/UI) at $150-$175k.

I also continue to hear good things about working at Gusto, who are big enough to be hiring a bunch of roles. In particular, it sounds like they onboard trans folks really well, which I hope is also reflected in their product.


The best Star Trek is the Star Trek that's on

Occasionally people will ask how to get into Star Trek. Most fans respond with elaborate watch orders, invariably starting with whatever Trek was on when they first started watching. I say, cut out the middleman. Just start with whatever's on right now. It'll be the show that's intended for the current media environment, the current cultural expectations.

The second season of Lower Decks just ended, but it's been renewed for a third season and it's probably the best starting point for most people. Office comedy set in space. Packed full of deep cuts if you're a longtime fan but none of it is necessary to understand what's going on, the show treats the lore as a source of material, not required reading. Worth the Paramount Plus subscription just for itself if that's the kind of thing you're into. It's had an actually good final episode each season, which appears to be pretty rare for modern genre TV.

I'm also looking forward to Picard and Discovery coming back on, but Lower Decks might legit be my favorite Star Trek right now.