Doug Simmons (10:07EST 4/30/13): Hey Stephen, in my quest for more traffic and making this whole thing more interesting to us, I’m forming a feasibility exploratory committee to size up maybe the best and most revolutionary idea I’ve ever had that keeps failing to come to any fruition, and the remaining step of the Committee is to run this by you:
I am convinced that most of what gets swapped around internally would make for gold content were it on the site (which is why I do the MobilityLeaks bits), even in its casual tone, brief, informal, not polished — I think all those things make it strong, not to mention we seem to prefer writing these easy email (emails?) to each other rather than firing up WLW or whatever and cranking out a post. It’s just easier, and the content is great and plentiful. Heck I think I’m about to start a decent MobilityLeaks bit with this single email you’re reading.
So, what if we were to take a domain I grabbed, mobilityleaks.com, and somehow manage to make it a sort of web GUI frontend for the audience to tune into our exchanges, and maybe add their own comments (which would go on the site, not through our email), maybe if in a blog format with each new email thread acting as a new post, with subsequent email in that thread being appended automatically perhaps either to the post or as comments? I can’t think of any other site that does that, I think it has potential.
But there are some problems that come to mind – might need extensive custom programming, we’d need mechanisms in place to filter out things like email headers, anything with an @ in it, anything that might be a phone number or an address (sigs), gotta be on guard to zap something from the site if I get too racial here or bash the Tea Party movement excessively, I wouldn’t want it to create a chilling effect on our actual internal emailing, might need some way to put a string in your email (either the first of a thread to flag the whole thread or just an individual email) so that the site does not import it and so on.
Does this sound at all doable to you on an automatic level which requires minimal additional work, once it’s set? Or is doing it manually, as with what I’ve been doing with the MobilityLeaks posts, the only way to go? Lastly, do you like that domain name, mobilityleaks, better than mobilitydigest, either for this purpose or to possibly replace MobilityDigest? Thanks Stephen, you’re number one big guy!
Doug Smith: I think it’s brilliant and totally endorse this. This does not exclude regular writing and reviews however, but has a unique edge to it that cannot be denied. I would say that all of us could remember to avoid racial and religious slurs and remove sigs on the email addresses attached to the internal email.
Doug Simmons: Well yes, it’s a great idea at least in theory, but there are technical challenges to overcome (or to just decide that they’re too big), how to automatically make email public in a manner that doesn’t reveal what we don’t want it to reveal and without making us uncomfortable somehow. I, as would all of you, get really pissed if my email address or phone number made its way to the site as a result of this, for example. So that has to be done right and tested thoroughly and not put on autopilot for a long time, with each post needing to be approved for however long it takes for us to feel confident that whatever we manage to hatch, if anything other than what we’re already doing, is solid.
The non-technical concern is that I don’t know how this will affect our email fun, if it chills things because we know our readers would then be reading over our shoulder, or if we can sort of ignore that, I don’t know. The here-and-there MobilityLeaks bits don’t seem to have created that problem. There are a good handful of ways for this to prove not to be feasible. Hence my soliciting an advisory opinion from Stephen, another great idea of mine.
Stephen: [response possibly coming soon…]