The rebirth of the mailing list

“Does anyone want to come and speak at an event in Astana, Kazakhstan?” said an email in my inbox yesterday. Now that’s an offer you don’t get every day. What are the chances, really? But much to my amazement, someone who IS actually organising an event in Kazakhstan emailed Milo Yiannopoulos to come and speak. Milo forwarded the email to one of the mailing lists I’m on and that’s how I got to commit to a trip to Kazakhstan.

On a slightly different note, a few months ago I scored $24,000 in free Rackspace credit over 12 months because a member of another mailing list I’m on got us a group deal. And I can’t even remember how many discounts I’ve gotten for various web apps and services, just by being active on a handful of mailing lists.

It’s not just freebies and unique event invites, though. Mailing lists have this inherent attribute that makes them really unique in today’s world: they’re closed and selective, which means that people on the list feel comfortable with sharing information and thoughts they otherwise wouldn’t. I’ve seen discussions ranging from which VCs one should never deal with to who’s dating who in the tech world. They’re tons of fun, too.

Usually revolving around one or a handful of individuals and having under 150 members, they resemble the 19th century’s fraternities in the digital age. I can’t think of a better way to keep a group of people communicating actively and give them an environment where they can share information they otherwise wouldn’t. So next time someone mentions a mailing list, find a way to get on because you’re missing out. Big time.

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