CSPI is Moving To Substack
A couple of months ago, I wrote about why, if you’re a writer, you should be on Substack. At the same time, CSPI was publishing all of its material on our own website. After some deliberation, we’ve decided that the advice I provided to individual writers applied just as strongly to institutions.
I’m therefore pleased to announce that CSPI is going full Substack. This means that all of our blog posts, reports, links, podcasts, and other communications are going to be released through the Substack interface at www.cspicenter.com from now on.
Under the old system, when we had new content to share, you would first learn about it through Substack via e-mail or the app. Then, you would click through to the CSPI website. If you wanted to listen to a podcast afterwards, you might click on the “podcast” tab on the website, then go to Audioboom, and finally click on the Apple or Spotify logo to get it in the relevant app. If you decided you liked what you heard, you could click the “donate” tab on the website, which gave you the option of sending money through Patreon or PayPal.
Or maybe, if not yet a subscriber to the newsletter, you might have come across a CSPI report on Twitter. You’d then find yourself wanting to keep up with what we are doing, but for you to join our mailing list we needed to hope that you clicked on the “subscribe” tab, which would take you to the Substack.
Now, everything is integrated into one place. Next time we release a new blog post or report, you will again get an e-mail or alert through the app. But this time, you can read it right on your phone or computer without going anywhere else. If you’re a new reader and discover CSPI through social media or a news article, when you click on our page you will be prompted to sign up for future e-mails or alerts right then and there. If you want to listen to a podcast or make a donation, you can also do those things on the same website.
As I wrote in April,
Throughout much of my adult life, I’ve subscribed to three newspapers: The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. A decade ago I would wait until I got each newspaper in my inbox every morning and read what I thought looked interesting. Then they all got apps, and those became a much more convenient way to keep up with the news. The NYT was the first to develop a really good one, and I found myself reading more of that paper and less of the other two. Until recently the WP app was particularly bad. Every time I clicked on a story, it was basically a crapshoot as to whether I was still even logged in. In the last couple of months, the WP unveiled a brand new app that is much easier to use, and it is now competing with the NYT as my main source of news.
The secret to the success of Substack is that, like Netflix, it has perfected the frictionless experience. This is true for both consumers and producers of content. Some months ago, I was talking to an academic with a blog, and I told her she should get on Substack because I liked the fact that it was so easy to sign up for e-mails. She told me that I could just go to her WordPress site, scroll or direct my eyes to the right place, and subscribe to her blog too. What’s the big deal? Sounds like the same thing. I tried to get through to her that I’m a very busy guy who already finds it difficult to keep up with everything I want to read, and I’m sure other potential readers are in the same position, so five seconds versus one second to sign up for a blog is a big difference…
The case for Substack became even stronger with the release of its app just last month. It’s at least as good as those of the NYT and WP, and provides a much better experience than I got when I used to send all my Substacks to an e-mail folder and then scroll through it every now and then. I’ve never once been logged out of Substack against my will, whether on the app or through my browser, which is something that is extremely rare for any website. They even got rid of passwords! When I need to log in on a new device or browser, they simply send a link through e-mail. Yes, in theory using passwords should be no big deal now, as they are automatically saved in your browser. In theory. In practice, perhaps a quarter of the time when I try to log in with a password I think I’ve previously saved, something goes wrong.
As part of the move, we’ve brought along all of our past blogs and reports, along with our podcasts. The one part of the old website we haven’t been able to bring over yet in its entirety is Philippe’s blog, since its posts include a lot of fancy math that uses LaTeX, which Substack currently doesn’t support. We’ve been in discussions with Substack and they hope to solve this problem soon, at which point we’ll move all of Philippe’s previous writing here too. For now, we will release his future blog posts that don’t require LaTeX through Substack, along with all of our other content.
In case you’ve missed any of our previous reports, you can find them posted on the new CSPI site below.
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