Delia Cai on Substack, Sidechannel, and the Media Revolution
Today in our What Now newsletter.
We meet again What Now readers. Somehow it has been seven weeks since the last time I wrote this newsletter! I'm back with an interview with Delia Cai, who works in audience development at BuzzFeed and is the proprietor of Deez Links, the media gossip and commentary newsletter you might remember having featured a certain website. I spoke to Delia last week to talk about Sidechannel, the new Discord project she launched with a team of independent writers, what this whole "Substack" craze is really all about, and the ever-shifting ways of measuring human attention.
The following interview was edited and condensed.
I think Sidechannel is such an interesting evolution of where this past year-and-a half has been going—the newsletter-subscription discourse. What kind of thinking went into using Discord to build a community?
It was really the brainchild, I believe, of Casey Newton and Ryan Broderick and the others. I feel like Ryan especially has had a lot of practice at I think really growing a community around his newsletter. He's sort of the veteran with Discord and is the one teaching us how to use it.
I love being on Twitter all the time, mostly just to be talking to my internet friends. It's the tier of people who I want to chat with and hear their opinions but like, we're not on a texting basis? But Twitter is also such a minefield. And so I think what really appealed to me about Sidechannel and coming together with all these other writers that I really admire, and sort of being able to combine our audiences on this one giant group chat, was that it was a way more intentional and wholesome and constructive place to chat about things, whether it was media gossip—which I just love in any format or forum—or like, I have a channel that's about Peaky Blinders, because I'm dying to talk to people about that show, but no one in my normal social circles cares about it.
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