Hello friends! We’re going to add more voices to the newsletter—and publish them on our shiny new blog—starting with our super-editor and Halloween expert Elizabeth Minkel. I’ll still be here, and you can always email me directly (firstname.lastname@example.org). I’ll also be editing Elizabeth instead of the other way around. I’ve added some notes. — President Paul
THANKS PAUL, GREAT INTRO. Hi everyone! I’m Elizabeth, and I’ve worked for Paul on and off for…a long time, as he referenced in the newsletter a few weeks back. He first hired me because he’d scanned the entire Harper’s Magazine archive and wanted to build things with it—specifically an interactive tool to explore thousands of lines of statistics from the Harper’s Index. (A project that is tragically no longer online, though you can read about it in this Awl interview Paul did with Choire Sicha, an extremely 2010 sentence [Editor’s note: This seems like 300 years ago].) I’d just come from a project organizing all ~4,000 (at the time!) New Yorker covers; making sense of large amounts of archival data was becoming my thing.
Paul and I both sit at the intersections of the humanities and technology [Editor’s note: Cue black turtlenecks], but I’ve always thought that one key difference is he often approaches this space by building tools, and I often approach it by building process. [Editor’s note: Okay I’m going to stop, it’s getting rude. You’re in charge!]
I initially joined Aboard over the summer to help create sample boards, and when I looked at the product, I immediately *got* what the team had built—and my first instinct was to figure out exactly how to use it in my own life, process-wise. That meant creating a recipe board (instead of scrolling back through my photos for the same picture of a specific soup recipe every three months), or creating board to manage the weekly production of my long-running newsletter (instead of dm-ing myself tweets and keeping a text document of links on my desktop, a truly terrible system from a person who claims to like building processes).
The same sort of “how would I use this in a systematic, potentially repeatable way” ethos went into creating many of those sample boards, whether I was pretending I ran a book club or pretending I was taking a weekend trip to New York City, the place where I actually live (it’s been months since I made that board, but the Ace Hotel Brooklyn targeted ads just won’t quit). I didn’t even have to pretend when I made the fandom board, which reflects my very real and active investment in AMC’s Interview with the Vampire, and which I continue to update to this day. (Did you see the new teaser clip from season 2???)
This week, I got to pretend I was throwing a Halloween party, a truly enjoyable experience that involved saving many pictures of pumpkins. In my real, private Aboard-using life, I collaborated with my mother on a board we made to decide where we’re having Thanksgiving—a task that normally involves us texting each other links to restaurant websites of varying qualities over multiple days, but this time was simply a bunch of cards side-by-side with tags and comments, and a quick decision once they were sorted into yes, maybe, and no stacks.
It’s all process, whether it’s half a dozen cards for charming Hudson Valley inns or the full scope of a spooky holiday party or the central organizing space for the book club or the church group or the ongoing obsession with fictional vampires. So much of the web right now is (garbage) ephemeral, links floating by on social media, amid a sea of ads and sponcon and algorithmic suppression of the things your friends actually post. I love that Aboard lets you take control of this, to organize things in a way that makes sense for you. Plus it looks extremely cute, especially if you go heavy on the pumpkins.
I’m going to keep making fictional boards (I’m not sure any holiday will be as fun to do as Halloween, but I’m going to try), but in the coming weeks, we’re also going to start highlighting real boards made by real users. If you’re interested in being one of those featured real boards/users, please write us at email@example.com and let us know. I’d love to see what people are doing out in the world with Aboard—and what processes they’re building with it.