Posterous, the site we previously referred to as a "minimalist blogging platform", has again expanded its functionality in its own, minimalist fashion. This time, rather than adding rich editing features or increasing social interaction the service has gone and reinvented one of the Internet's "wheels" - the email list.Today,
We spoke with Posterous co-founder and CEO Sachin Agarwal yesterday and he told us that the new feature is an "email list on steroids" and that it's "the last email list you'll ever need."
"The worst part about Yahoo Groups," Agarwal started off telling us, "is how hard it is to create one of these groups."
In moving beyond its origins as a "minimalist blogging platform", you see, Posterous is working to become a minimalist, email-based group-blogging platform that makes everything about communicating with multiple people by email as simple as possible. Creating one of these group email lists, or group blogs, is as simple as sending an email to Posterous.
As you can see in the image, the subject will be the name of the blog and the body, a list of emails, are all of the members. Only the group's creator needs to be a Posterous member and, if they're not at the time of its creation, they will have an account created right then. The end result is a blog, which can be set to either public or private, to which any of its members may contribute by email or by using the website. Agarwal offered a number of use cases, from events to clubs to blogging group travels.
The interesting part here is that the feature is a cyborg, of sorts - it's part blog, part email list. As you can see, Posterous has taken a big bite off of Twitter's recent redesign, using a two-pane view with timeline along the left with an expanded view along the right. For those that don't want or don't care about the Web-based blog portion, the entire thing exists as an email interaction. Every update sends an email to all members and members can reply by email. Any inline media, such as videos, pictures, or even links to videos, are automatically resized and embedded, meaning even the most tech un-savvy can participate.
The feature has been in beta for the past week with about a thousand users testing it and it is going live today. The group feature comes as a bit of a surprise, as when we first heard Posterous would be introducing a "group blogging" feature, email lists never even came to mind. But with its foundation in email-based posting, the feature does seem to make sense.
"We've always been known as a platform that can post by email very easily, but we've also been about consumption by email," said Agarwal. "Our goal has always been to help normal people share."
If it didn't offer this sort of "bridging-the-gap" functionality, we would have to ask what this does that something like Facebook doesn't, but an email list that just happens to be a blog, and vice versa, is something we could see gaining traction among groups that might not otherwise see eye-to-eye on how to communicate with each other online. It brings the email diehards together with the blogging, text messaging, Facebook-aholics.
In some ways, it seems like an out of the blue move for the once minimalist blogging platform. In others, it seems like the natural progression.