It's all just rails (Ricky Weekly #6)

If you are reading this email, I’d love to hear what you think! I promised 8 issues and we are on #6 so I’d love your help reflecting on the experience. How do my emails make you feel? Should this thing continue to exist in the world? Reply and let me know.

A picture from my life:

I organized a Founder Dating dinner on Wednesday. Here’s a picture of the attendees actually doing speed-dating. I gave them table topics and forced them to switch every five minutes, which I thought was hilarious but definitely productive. I’m organizing a few more of these this summer, so let me know if you want to attend.

Thing on my mind:

I started thinking a bit about the future of social media. As product people, we know that norms of behavior emerge from how you design the “rails” in these social spaces. For example…

Twitter: the original 140 character limit removed friction from posting, leading to Twitter becoming high-velocity and perfect for reacting to live events. Flipside is Tweets are short and easy to take out of context, leading to more vitriol.

Strava: the route tracking is a great utility for outdoor runners and cyclists. The comments are clearly secondary and tucked away under a big map of the route, meaning the app doesn’t care about encouraging discussion as much as they want to encourage runners and cyclists to track and share their routes.

Reddit / Hacker News: the leaderboard encourage submitting good content and the comments are focused around the items submitted. Upvote/downvote of comments incentivize positive contribution according to what the community values. To read the link, you have to click out, dedicating almost all of the space on the site for discussions.

What goals should we be thinking about when design the rails in the future social spaces? So far the game has largely been about removing friction to juice engagement, but those goals don’t serve us as much as they did before.

Reflecting on the email newsletter as a medium, even though technically anyone can sign up to receive this newsletter, it still feels intimate because email is like text and DM and goes to a private personal inbox. So I think this leads to y’all feeling like you’re closer to me, kind of like how you think you know podcast hosts because literally their voices are delivered directly to your head like your inner voice and the voice of god. This is intimacy arbitrage.

Email is slower so allows me to be thoughtful. There’s none of the “performative” aspect of all of the other social services because I’m not trying to get any likes, so it feels more pure. The only way for you to react to it is by replying, which can lead to a high-quality and private 1-on-1 conversations. You’re all encouraged to do that with me. That’s my favorite part.

Piece of content I recommend:

Andre Iguodala on The Breakfast Club.

He grew up next to the projects but went to school where he was often the only black kid in class. That has clearly helped him understand our world better than a lot of people and I think it showed in this interview.

As always, you can find out what I’m thinking in more real-time on Twitter and my blog posts are on my website. My latest essay is called “I got next!” — a personal #RequestForStartups.