The Jetsons were more accurate than anyone predicted

It was my first week at Fallon, and I strategically sent an all-staff email that first Friday morning highlighting five trends worth paying attention to across digital, social, technology, and culture that week.

I wanted to establish myself as a thought leader in my new agency… but also set up a relationship of teaching and elevating each other from the very start. The next Friday I sent it out again and added clients. Soon I booted up a MailChimp account to send it to my own list externally. And here we are 200 weeks later… and you can bet you’re going to get an email from me on Friday morning with a roundup of things I’m tracking in the world of creative innovation.  

But why? I like social media and all, but I’m more interested in how people communicate with each other, brands, and how that’s facilitated – including experience design, technology, art, and yes, often social.

Culture today is shaped by technology, and technology is shaped by culture. To be a modern marketer, you have to pay attention closely to the micro-trends that shape the macro-moves both inclusive and outside of emerging tech. And it’s moving quickly these days! So I pay close attention and keep notes. Detailed notes. Time-stamped notes with context. And it’s pretty easy if that’s a daily habit to drop those notes into an email to share with colleagues, clients, and peers.  

But I also saw this email newsletter trend coming. My 2019 New Year’s resolution was to learn email marketing, and I did. In a world of algorithms and gatekeepers, there’s nothing like the RSS feel of subscribing to an email newsletter and just GETTING IT IN YOUR INBOX WHEN IT’S SENT. And sending one to people you know will receive it. Who knew?

So what have I learned in 200 weeks of sending Friday emails?

  • Never Underestimate the Off-Board Brain – With trends moving so quickly and new platform announcements every week, it can be hard to remember all the things. But if you have years and years of insights, anecdotes, news, and trends saved to your personal website, those notes can come in handy to quickly pull up a link or video, or social post. There’s nothing better than Googling your off-board brain. I’m telling ya.
  • You Gotta Ship – Anyone can say they’re going to start a blog, or podcast, or newsletter. But beyond starting something, to have any measure of impact, you actually have to be wired to be a “content creator” and then have the self-discipline to follow through. I’m not advocating toxic hustle culture here, but I am a fan of consistency and intentional execution of a plan.  
  • Two-Way Feedback – What I miss most from my 10 years of music blogging is probably the real-time comments and engagement from a like-minded community. You can still get that in pockets in the 2021-era of algorithmic social media, but there’s nothing like an email newsletter where you can hit SEND and immediately get REPLIES with folks’ thoughts. I’ve sent out surveys seeking feedback twice, but the best sounding board for what my peers are thinking has been the replies to this email. So thank you!

So there you go. An email newsletter written about the email newsletter you’re reading. So meta. Thanks for reading. And if you know someone you think would get value from this, please share!

Here’s what else I’m tracking this week…

Justice for Daunte Wright and the Red Summer of 1919: Kara Cisco, Minnesota’s 2020 Social Studies Teacher of the Year, shared her high school lesson plan for this week on social media, titled “Justice for Daunte Wright and the Red Summer of 1919.” The slideshow covers trauma, privilege, historical racism, and includes discussion questions as she tries to help her students look to history to understand the past and better inform the future. You can review the lesson plan and lecture slides here.

Key quote: “In the summer of 1919, the nation was coming out of the Spanish flu pandemic and a world war, and the Great Migration of Blacks from the South was underway. In a slide deck that makes up the lesson, Cisco outlines 30 race riots that took place around the country that year, the Black Wall Street massacre two years later in Tulsa and an overview of redlining — the practice of legally barring people of color from living in a neighborhood — in Minneapolis.

How Safe Would You Feel Riding as a Passenger in a Self-Driving Car? The folks at Morning Brew published a HUGE explainer about self-driving cars, robotaxis, and more. Check it out here.

Spotify’s Car Thing: Spotify introduced its first hardware product this week, called “Car Thing.” The device mounts to your dashboard and features a touchscreen, microphone for voice commands and a giant physical dial to listen to music. It’s a complement to your in-dash system (or perhaps better if your car is older and doesn’t have one. Spotify Premium members can get on the list for a free Car Thing player here.

Eyecam, the Anthropomorphic Webcam: What if seeing devices looked like us? Eyecam is a prototype exploring the potential future design of sensing devices with a design-fiction prototype –  a webcam shaped like a human eye that can see, blink, look around and observe you. Watch it here. Also, no thank you.  

Documentary of the Week: Coded Bias explores the fallout of MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini’s discovery that facial recognition does not see dark-skinned faces accurately, and her journey to push for the first-ever legislation in the U.S. to govern against systemic bias in the algorithms that impact us all. Vice said it’s a “digestible introduction to the myriad ways algorithmic bias has infiltrated every aspect of our lives—from racist facial recognition and predictive policing systems to scoring software that decides who gets access to housing, loans, public assistance, and more.” Stream it on Netflix.

Business Reads of the Week: 1)Why Pronouncing Names Correctly Is More Than Common Courtesy; 2) We Are All Burnt Out; 3) What Does It Mean to Be a Manager Today? 4) Listening to Black Women: The Innovation Tech Can’t Figure Out

Quick Hits:

See you on the internet!

If you like this, click and “LIKE” it. And share it. Or don’t. Be that way.

Follow @gregswan on InstagramTwitter, and LinkedIn.