Megan Garber (via, appropriately, Dave Pell’s NextDraft email newsletter):
Those 41,000 words are 41,000 words’ worth of time and effort and creativity that we’ve invested in manufacturing the industrial product that is email — the social artifact that is made to be shared and yet that is ultimately defined by privacy.
This reminds me of something John Gruber said in my interview with him a few years back. I had asked about his history in writing and how he found his voice as a writer and got into publishing DF, and he replied:
I was working for Bare Bones Software, and there was a question on the Mailsmith-Talk mailing list from a customer asking for help with a script that would count the number of words in all the messages in a mailbox. So I wrote a script that did that, and I ran it against my own outgoing message archives. The script was smart enough to count only words that weren’t in quoted passages, ignored signatures, etc. I forget the exact result, but the result was just preposterously high. Based on some common rules-of-thumb, I’d written several books worth of email messages over the previous five years — posts to mailing lists and a ton of personal correspondence, all of which I tried to write the hell out of.
Around that same time, it became obvious that the outlet I’d been waiting for was available: I needed to start my own weblog.