The Worst Email We Didn't Want To End Up Writing

The Worst Email We Didn't Want To End Up Writing

The Worst Email We Didn't Want to End Up Writing

Good morning! A little more than nine months ago, we launched Hmm Daily, as a demonstration of faith or at least hope in two propositions: that articles published on a website were still a thing that people were motivated to read, and that it might be possible for us to use new tools to build new ways to turn that motivation into money, so that we could maintain an ongoing supply of new articles.

The first proposition was something we had extensive experience with, and we are pleased to report that it more or less worked. People showed up every day to read what we published, and now and then the pieces went out to reach thousands or tens of thousands more people than that. It's been gratifying to share the writing with a population of readers who appreciate it, and it's been thrilling to be able to publish freelance work from a range of distinctive voices.

The second proposition—well, this was not exactly our field of expertise. We launched Hmm Daily with grant money from Civil, to be part of the Civil Network, a family of small sites that were supposed to act as laboratories, or laboratory subjects, for new experiments in journalism funding. The main theory was that by creating an easy-to-use blockchain-based token, Civil would make it simple for the public to support journalism, through subscriptions or paid memberships or story-by-story author tipping, or some combination of those things, without Facebook dependency or other surveillance-based advertising or any of the other unpleasant, indirect, and generally parasitic contemporary media-funding methods. Through trial and error, and with an endowment of tokens to use within the token economy, the sites would work their way toward sustainable business models.

For various reasons, all the futuristic underpinnings of the system took longer to develop and deploy than had originally been planned, and the innovations were harder to use. The Hmm Daily business model ended up consisting of spending a time-limited cash grant while asking readers to send us regular old fiat-currency United States dollars if they enjoyed the content, and offering a subscription to a weekly email newsletter, Hmm Weekly, to those who were willing to pay.

Quite a few readers did, and we are thankful for your support. But better and bigger web logs than Hmm Daily have run aground in the turbulent shallows of 21st century media funding, and, in the absence of some technological or conceptual breakthrough, dredging out a navigable monetization channel in these nine months was more than your two-person Hmm Daily full-time writing-and-editing staff could do. Various schemes to get rescued or kept afloat by finding major patrons or alternative hosting platforms failed to work out.

So, a little less than a month from now, Hmm Daily is going to stop publishing new stories on its website. We will continue to write and deliver Hmm Weekly—replete with mini-essays, reviews, social commentary, sandwich recipes, and possibly more serialized fiction—to your email inboxes every Tuesday. An existing publication is going to poach the current Hmm Daily editor for a full-time editing and writing job, the details of which will be announced elsewhere; we strongly encourage someone who needs full-time art direction or writing or editorial guidance to poach the current Hmm Daily creative director, who would like to add that they are also available for television game shows.

What about the readers? Hmm Daily's 12-year-old transit blogger asked, when the news was broken to him. We have hung onto enough grant money to keep the site up online indefinitely, and we plan to do so. We aim to keep publishing the freelance articles that are currently in the pipeline, paid at the scheduled rates, until the end. The Worst Thing We Read department may skip a few days, as the editor is going to spend the rest of this week driving his family from the Upper Midwest to the Rockies, in the name of Seeing the Country, and then later on the editor is going to also take a week at the beach. The Hmm Daily creative director will be in the usual undisclosed location with the initials Schroon Lake, NY.

All member and patron tchotchkes will be delivered, as promised, to supporters who have supplied us with their mailing addresses. If you are a supporter who did not receive our request for mailing addresses, please send the necessary information to Members and patrons who specifically wished to support a year's worth of the Hmm Daily website may, if they choose, request and receive a prorated refund for the difference between the term of your pledge and our duration of daily publishing.

Nine months! Going on 10! If anyone was actually inspired to conceive a baby after reading "Your Real Biological Clock Is You're Going to Die," some of those babies may be born before we switch over from Hmm Daily to Hmm Weekly. It's been an honor and an unalloyed pleasure to serve you, the readers of Hmm Daily.
Is there anything you want to write to us?
Send questions and suggestions to