_Francois Lane is a Montreal-based Internet entrepreneur. Since 1996, he has spearheaded a number of projects in the French Canadian market, including an e-commerce store for computer equipment, a blog application, a networked community service, a viral contest website, and Web hosting and email marketing services. “NewsletterArchive.org”:http://www.newsletterarchive.org is Francois’s first venture to target a global audience._
*One Degree: Tell me about NewsletterArchive.*
NewsletterArchive.org is like Archive.org’s “Wayback Machine”:http://www.archive.org/, except it’s for newsletters. The goal is to collect, preserve and provide public access to all email newsletters – past, present and future. You could also see it as a giant shared webmail account for newsletter subscriptions.
Unlike Web pages, newsletters aren’t archived and available on the Web. This means that the portion of the Internet’s history contained in newsletters exists only in the personal archives of those who have received them and have decided to keep them. NewsletterArchive aims to gather this common heritage in one place, preserve it and make it available to everyone.
*One Degree: Where did the original idea come from?*
I got the idea when I was moving my data onto a new computer. I’ve been bringing along my email archive from upgrade to upgrade since 1997! At some point, I remember being surprised at my fascination for old email newsletters from companies that no longer exist. I felt like I was in a museum, looking at artifacts from the past. That was when it hit me that newsletters had historical value and needed to be preserved.
*One Degree: Where do the actual e-mail messages you’re showing come from?*
Right now, most of the old newsletters come from my rather large personal archive. We also subscribed to a bunch of new newsletters to help grow the archive. The archive is open to user contributions, but unfortunately we’ve received very few so far. People need to realize that they can contribute to preserving the history of the Internet and save hard disk space at the same time! 😉
*One Degree: What do you hope marketers can learn from the archive?*
I hope they will gain inspiration from seeing what other people are doing. Surprisingly, email marketers, more than any other type of marketer, seem to be so focused on their own campaigns that they are often unaware of what others are doing. When you browse through the archive, you realize that there are a lot of great ideas in there.
*One Degree: Pardon me for being so direct, but what’s your business model – how will you make money from this venture?*
As the .org suggests, this is not a commercial venture. But at some point, we’ll need to cover our costs. We’ve already received sponsorship offers from email marketing companies. That will probably be the way to go. But at this point in time, our main objective is to grow the archive.