For Online E-newspaper
The East African : July 14th 2014
32 The EastAfrican OUTLOOK JULY 12-18,2014 e -AF R ICAN For e-mail, a death greatly exaggerated nyLetter, which MailChimp owns, are simple, free and easy to use. TinyLetter has more than 100,000 users who reach 9.3 million subscribers, and it has had an increase of 15 per cent in the number of newsletters sent in the last year. “People have demonstrated a lot of interest in experimenting with the form,” said Kate Kiefer Lee, content manager for MailChimp and TinyLetter, who helped write a book called Nicely Said: Writing for the Web With Style and Purpose. “People get more excited about the newer technologies, but the nice thing about e-mail is that it doesn’t go away. It sits in your inbox and you have to do something with it.” A surprising number of peo- THE UNEXPECTED E-mail is a 40-year-old technology that is not going away for very good reasons — it’s the cockroach of the Internet, says Hirschhorn, the CEO of ReDef. Pic: File Su≥p≥isingly, the old-school e-mail newslette≥ is not only still a≥ound, but ve≥y much on the ma≥ch By DAVID CARR New York Times News Service H ere at the Media Equation, we pride ourselves on keeping our readers abreast of the newest technologies and approaches in reaching audiences. So it gives us great pleasure to reveal a radical publishing technology that is catching on in news media companies big and small. Ladies and gentlemen, behold: e-mail. E-mail newsletters, an old-school artifact of the Web that was supposed to die along with dial-up connections, are not only still around, but very much on the march. In addition to the long-running morning must-haves like Mike Allen’s political tip sheet Playbook, other topics and approaches are gaining momentum across publishing. Quartz, Atlantic Media’s smart business site, has an increasingly popular daily newsletter. The revamped Newsweek has done well with Today in Tabs, a cheeky look at content that is so bad it’s good. And webby writers including Ann Friedman, Jason Hirschhorn, Alexis Madrigal, Robin Sloan and Maria Popova all put out much-followed newsletters. Bloomberg, Fast Co, The New York Times, Politico and many other news organisations are finding that they can grab attention — and readers — in the inbox. How can that be? With social media, mobile apps and dynamic websites that practically stalk the reader, how can something that sometimes gets caught in a spam filter really be taking off? Newsletters are clicking because readers have grown tired of the endless stream of information on the Internet, and having something finite and recognisable show up in your inbox can impose order on all that chaos. In fact, the comeback of e-mail newsletters has been covered in Fast Co The Atlantic and Medium, but I missed those articles because, really, who can keep up with a never-ending scroll of new developments? That’s where e-mail newsletters, with their aggregation and summaries, come in. Some are e-mail only, others reprise something that can be found on the Web. At a time when lots of news and information is whizzing by online, email newsletters — some free, some not — help us figure out what’s worth paying attention to. There are some significant coun- tervailing trends, of course. Young people love to text, send instant messages and use Snapchat more than they like using e-mail, and Facebook paid as much as $19 billion for the text service WhatsApp as a bet that e-mail may be on the wane. Then again, MailChimp, which sends all manner of business-toconsumer e-mails, is adding more than 10,000 users a day — people who send mass e-mails and newsletters — according to executives there. The company, founded in 2001, says it sends more than 400 million e-mails a day. Publishers seeking to stick out of the clutter have found both traction and a kind of intimacy in consumers’ inboxes. If you think about it, what may seem like a very retro movement — what’s next, faxes? — has relevance in the modern media environment. Increasingly, news is a list that appears on your phone. Whether it’s Twitter, your Facebook stream or a mobile app like NYT Now, news shows up as a list of links. The Drudge Report is nothing more than that, and the site continues Readers have grown tired of the endless stream of information on the Internet, and having something finite and recognisable show up in your inbox can impose order on all that chaos. It shows up in your inbox because you asked for it and includes links to content you have deemed relevant. At a time when lots of news and information is whizzing by online, e-mail newsletters help us figure out what’s worth paying attention to. to melt publishers’ servers when it points to something. An e-mail newsletter generally shows up in your inbox because you asked for it and includes links to content you have deemed relevant. In other words, it’s important content you want in list form, which seems like a suddenly modern approach. It helps that e-mail, long dis- missed as a festering petri dish of marketing come-ons, has cleaned up its act. Gmail, in particular, has stamped out a lot of spam and segmented the inbox into personal, social and promotional streams that make e-mail much less a mess than it used to be. It can be valuable real estate. A Quartz study of 940 global executives found that e-mail newsletters trumped the Internet and mobile apps as a source of news. It makes sense. My personal digit- al hierarchy, which I assume is fairly common, goes like this: E-mail first, because it is for and about me; social media next, because it is for and about me, my friends and professional peers; and finally, there is the anarchy of the Web, which is about, well, everything. With an e-mail, there is a pre- sumption of connection, of something personal, that makes it a good platform for publishers. Newer e-mail newsletter outfits like Ti- ple, including me, find themselves clicking on those e-mails. (A list of some newsletters I find amusing and useful is posted with this column on nytimes.com/media.) “E-mail is dismissed as some- thing old people use,” said Gideon Lichfield, global news editor at Quartz. “But in the past few years, we have started to see e-mail as a peer to publishing platforms like Twitter, Facebook and the Web, one that has its own strengths and weaknesses that we are starting to figure out.” Quartz’s daily e-mail goes to 75,000 subscribers, about half of whom open it. “It is a not a huge audience, but it is a very dedicated and valuable one,’’ Lichfield said. ”The e-mail newsletter has a sponsor and makes money.” His colleague Madrigal, a senior editor at The Atlantic, finds writing his daily newsletter, 5 Intriguing Things, to be deeply satisfying. “As a read, the Web is endless and the horizon keeps receding,” he told me. “And readers come and go. You can’t assume any continuity. But I have an intimate and intense relationship with people who get my newsletter every day. I can assume a high level of interest. It reminds me of the golden age of blogging in that way.” “For someone who didn’t grow up having their work delivered to the doorstep of people who subscribed to it,” he added, “sending someone something they asked for — not that got retweeted or liked on Facebook — is almost magical.” Some aspects are less than mag- ical, said Hirschhorn, chief executive of digital curator ReDef, who has been sending his much-read Media ReDef newsletter for seven years. The company that sends his newsletter also hosts his e-mail. And his own newsletter has been blocked as spam and gone undelivered. “It can be a little frustrating,” he said. “But it’s a great place to get in front of people who are interested in what you have to say. E-mail is a 40-year-old technology that is not going away for very good reasons —it’s the cockroach of the Internet.” NYT Service BRIEFS Pesapoint unveils agent network in Kenya PesaPoint, a shared banking infrastructure provider has launched an agent network in Kenya to provide depository and withdrawal points for mobile money services and cash withdrawal for debit cards issued by banks in Kenya. Over 1,200 agents to be powered by the paynet switch have been deployed countrywide to offer mobile money and banking services. Central Bank data shows that 11 commercial banks had contracted 18,082 agents as at March. Safaricom, Strathmore support tech centres Safaricom Ltd has partnered with Strathmore University to promote technology adoption by youth in the country through innovative centres. Safaricom has invested Ksh30 million ($344,827) in funding the @iLabAfrica Centre for information and communications technology innovation to groom innovators and entrepreneurs in the sector. Another centre, @iBiz Centre, is an incubation space for business, marketing and legal mentorship Internet programmes. Bob Collymore, Safaricom CEO, said the centres were timed to match global ICT development. Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore and Samsung Electronics East Africa vice president for Africa Robert Ngeru at the launch of “@iLabAfrica” last month. Picture: Diana Ngila Insurance-related apps prove tricky for use Insurance-related mobile applications will be abandoned by 40 per cent next year as consumers struggle to figure out how they are operated. According to its 2013 Global CIO survey, Gartner, the global technology research company says that the reason for this low adoption is because insurers have not designed their applications in a way that makes consumers want to use them, and consumers are simply not aware when these apps are available. Online business to double by 2019 Increased online purchase of goods will push the value of annual transactions, mobile and contactless payments to $4.7 trillion by 2019, up from just over $2.5 trillion this year, a new report from Juniper Research shows. Online retailers like Jumia have attracted customers with door to door deliveries in Africa. OLX has gained popularity in Kenya using mobile phones as an avenue. Combined online transactions on mobile handsets and tablets are expected to exceed those on desktops and laptops for the first time this year, the report shows.
July 7th 2014
July 21st 2014