Introducing Substack Notes—A New Forum for Ideas & Dialogue on the Web
I’m launching today on this new platform & you’re invited to join me
During the last few weeks, I’ve been testing a secret new feature at Substack.
But it’s not a secret anymore. Like Doris Day, I’m now shouting it from the highest hills.
In fact, it hasn’t been a secret for the last week or so. Substack made a pre-announcement on April 5—telling the whole world about Notes. To say that this caused a stir on social media is an understatement.
The Honest Broker is a reader-supported guide to music, books, media & culture. Both free and paid subscriptions are available. If you want to support my work, the best way is by taking out a paid subscription.
Let me make absolutely clear that nobody at Substack is describing Notes as a Twitter killer. But the owner of Twitter must have seen it that way—and launched a scorched earth campaign against Substack.
For a while, the word ‘Substack’ was censored in Twitter search results. Twitter also blocked the use of embedded tweets in Substack articles. Even worse, if you clicked on a link to Substack from a Twitter post, you were warned (incorrectly) that it could be dangerous. I tried doing it anyway, and it seemed that the Twitter algorithm was preventing even my followers from seeing my tweet.
People on Twitter started using code words to avoid the crackdown.
Here’s an article on rhymes-with-pub-snack.
Check out this link on the platform that cannot be named.
Don’t be afraid—click on the link that’s too dangerous for everyone else.
Read the article Elon Musk doesn’t want you to see.
It got so bad, that I even left Twitter in protest.
But all wars eventually come to an end. This one lasted about 72 hours.
There’s now a truce between Twitter and Substack—as far as I can tell, these hostile actions from Mr. Musk ended yesterday.
So I plan to return to Twitter later today. But I will do so cautiously and warily.
I really don’t want to be forced to choose between Twitter and Substack. But if I am, I will make my home at Substack, which is very supportive of writers and doesn’t play any of these authoritarian or manipulative games.
But you must be wondering: What’s so special about Substack Notes to cause all this ruckus?
The idea behind Notes is simple. Millions of people now participate in Substack as writers and readers—but much of this is built on long articles and essays. We now have a forum for dialoguing and sharing shorter posts.
You can try it out at https://substack.com/notes. You can also find Notes on the Substack app.
And if you still have questions, you can get more information on how to use Notes at this link.
I’ve already started posting at Notes.
I plan to try out different things on Substack Notes. But my initial idea is that this is a good place to share posts a little longer and smarter than what you typically find on other social media platforms.
There are few constraints on Notes. So I can even write album reviews if I want. For example:
Here are some other things I plan to do on Notes:
Discuss music, media, and culture news;
Share links to articles I’m reading—often providing some commentary or context;
Showcase other writers on Substack;
Engage in dialogue with other writers and thinkers;
Publish mini-articles too short for a Substack email, but still of potential interest to readers;
Make silly jokes and share cat photos (but not many—because Twitter is better for that);
Help build a community that benefits all participants and raises the level of dialogue on the web.
“Maybe we finally can have nice things. If it’s going to happen anywhere on the web, it might as well be here.”
As mentioned above, I’ve been testing Notes for several weeks, so I already have a taste of what’s coming. I’m especially pleased by the civility and intelligence of the interactions. My hope is that Notes will continue to maintain this decorum even as it grows—and without avoiding controversial or challenging topics.
I know this is possible. I’ve been very happy with the comments section at The Honest Broker, and this gives me confidence that we can build a larger community here at Substack that isn’t as dysfunctional as other parts of our culture.
Also, I expect that the Substack team will continue to add new features and functionality to Notes (and elsewhere on the platform) that empower writers and the broader community. Other web platforms try to manipulate and control users, but I haven’t seen any of that at Substack.
So maybe we finally can have nice things. If it’s going to happen anywhere on the web, it might as well be here.
You can join me at Substack Notes by clicking on this link.
The reason I read Honest Broker on Substack is the long form writing. The reason I am NOT on Twitter or Facebook, aside from those platforms' inherent untrustworthy content (yes, I hate that word too, Ted) is their fueling of the attention deficit generation. Please say you'll continue primarily in the original Substack! I have no interest in bite-sized topics or cat photos.
I'm a fellow Substacker (PortlandDissent) and my initial response is--who the hell wants to emulate Twitter. Which is one of the most odious developments in human communication history.
Jeez--just what the world needs: shorter stuff!!!
I am baffled why the owners of Substack--and God bless 'em--would want to tinker around with a whole new batch of algorithms when the basic Substack software is far, far from perfected. (Substack's graphics and typography are notoriously limited.)
As for Notes...it will fall victim to the inevitable dilemma of the common. Twitter is like an open-air insane asylum full of creeps working out their neuroses (I know; I live in PDX). The length of the typical Substack post is the secret-sauce that keeps the morons from flooding the zone.
This will not end well.