Welcome to Hawaii Bulletin!
This email newsletter was founded in 2021 as part of Facebook Bulletin (a.k.a. Meta Bulletin), a grand experiment in publishing, combining the largest and frankly most disruptive media platform in history with one of the oldest and most open communications technologies: email. I was excited to be a part of it.
The program was discontinued in October 2022, and I—along with several other Bulletin writers—migrated to the Substack platform.
As much as I am a writer, I also consider myself a connector. I'm not unusual among Generation X nerds in having nurtured an obsession with technology that predates the Internet, but my objectives have always been to explore how new tools can both inform people and build communities.
If you'll indulge a long paragraph of examples, these forays included running a dial-up BBS in high school (whose members, against all odds, also liked to meet up in person), running a Hawaii-focused message board (which saw a million visitors a month in its heyday), and publishing Hawaii news digests via email, gopher, USENET, and finally the web. And scattered through this history are discussion lists, chat rooms, and web forums.
Sharing information, answering questions, and fostering connections among diverse groups was a personal passion well before the advent of platforms ostensibly designed for it: social media.
Today, anyone and everyone is a publisher, a commentator, a media maker. It's chaos, and believe it or not, I love it. While there is a lot of noise, a million more gems have been uncovered. Diamonds in the rough, in the form of intrepid citizen journalists, brilliant artists, and boundary-breaking creators.
Of course, it has not all been good news. From the collapse of the newspaper industry, to the downsizing and consolidation of local news outlets, to the decimation of the once lucrative journalism and media marketplace, technology has wrought havoc.
Among all the platforms, channels, mediums and tools involved in this messy transition, Facebook was singularly dominant. Facebook Bulletin wasn’t the first attempt by Facebook to become a supporter, partner, or collaborator of industries and entities that are threatened by its mere existence. I am on record, in writing, for my own concerns about what Facebook has done and will do to industries and institutions.
But I was intrigued at this latest approach, which combines the undeniable connective tissue that Facebook provides countless communities with something as simple and accessible as email.
Before Facebook Bulletin, I had been considering starting an email newsletter. It's all the rage among media types, rife with buzzwords like "brand building" and "push media." Personally, I was much more interested in the potential for a more direct connection, a kind of digital intimacy, with my readers.
Sure, email brings you BOGO coupons from drugstores and important updates about your car's extended warranty. But it's also how old friends check in. How families share important news (which they may or may not share on Facebook). How we reach out to someone with questions, and how we get personal answers.
Hawaii Bulletin, delivered by email, will hopefully give me a chance to be more personal, and perhaps more opinionated, than my old-school journalism training might otherwise dictate. And perhaps it will allow you to feel more personally connected to the stories I tell.
While Facebook Bulletin is no more, Hawaii Bulletin lives on.
I've been covering Hawaii, and Hawaii technology, for more than 20 years. (More than 30 if you count my high school newspaper.) I've embraced print, television, radio, the web, and social media. I've enjoyed sharing the stories of Hawaii's innovative and creative people. And I plan to continue to do so.
Join me as this publishing experiment continues, and hopefully evolves. Subscribe, and more importantly, please post comments to let me know what you think... and to tell me about something new worth sharing.