“How Did He Get So Popular So Fast?”

Just over a year old, This is True is written up extremely favorably in the New York Times — in the business section. Their reporter is the first one to really understand the implications of my for-profit email publishing idea.

Technology columnist Denise Caruso dug a little deeper into the implications of the Internet “mailing list” phenomenon than most writers have — I guess that’s why she writes for the Times. She called to get a little quote for an article on the subject, but was so intrigued by my business model she chucked out the other parts of the story and did the entire article on This is True instead.

She declared I’m “taking a rather contrarian view of commercial publishing on the global Internet” since I “encourage people to do what comes naturally in net culture — that is, make copies and distribute them with impunity to friends and colleagues.”

Taking the column to the Internet first, and then marketing it to newspapers as a column, is, she says, “a delicious twist: in a world gone mad for moving publications onto the net, Mr. Cassingham is using the Internet to break into print.”

“Though Mr. Cassingham encourages people to forward ‘This is True’ to friends and colleagues,” Caruso wrote, “he is relentless about reminding readers that it is copyrighted and can be distributed only on his terms.”

Caruso, noting True‘s huge circulation after just over a year online, asks a good question, and then answers it herself: “How did he get so popular so fast? Well, for one thing, he writes funny stuff.”

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Denise Caruso later left the Times for the Hybrid Vigor Institute and is the author of Intervention: Confronting the Real Risks of Genetic Engineering and Life on a Biotech Planet.

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