P053: On Intentionality

So I set out this week to write a bit about acting with intentionality, i.e. carrying on purposefully and recognizing that even if the implementation details change, having a singular focus can help to achieve your stated objectives. The idea was to use the concept of intentionality as a lens to look back at the origin of this newsletter, deliver a progress report and highlight some of my favorite issues without resorting to a clip show format.

Hilariously, a quick trip to Wikipedia confirmed a sneaking suspicion that I was using the word intentionality incorrectly. Turns out:

Intentionality is a philosophical concept defined by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy as “the power of minds to be about, to represent, or to stand for, things, properties and states of affairs”. The term refers to the ability of the mind to form representations and should not be confused with intention.

Here’s where it gets even more meta

In the beginning, I shared my hope that this newsletter would “bloom into a long-running, bi-directional exchange of opinion and information about how people communicate today.” Now, every issue published sparks thoughtful responses via email, social media and (gasp) real-world conversations.

I had suspected that the rigid weekly newsletter format and the niche focus would restrict the maximum size of the audience but increase individual participation. This too proved to be prescient: my subscriber list sits comfortably at 101 hardy souls, a staggering (by industry standards) 56 of whom are likely to actually open and read the email any given week.

I had preached heavily about the value of setting and meeting expectations only to have the form of the newsletter evolve naturally over the course of the year. My current expectation is that the format will continue to morph as I slowly grow as a writer while still retaining flexibility as needed to address issues big and small.

Act Intentionally

My stated goal was to build a small but engaged audience and through the force of my will and the grace of my readers I have done so. Through it all, I’ve kept a tight focus: publish every Tuesday, respect the reader’s time, be interesting and/or funny. A cynic might say that working purposefully each week didn’t guarantee that I’d meet my goals any more than stating those objectives up front should be considered foreshadowing. And while that’s true, it’s a lot more fun to go out on a limb and call your shot than wallow in the obvious inevitability of a fact.

Periodically yours,

Bob Sherron