Issue 48 Sep 24, 2023

Creator is a broken word

If you've been hanging out on Twitter/X the past few years, there's an influx of the word "creator". It's used to describe people who, well, create things, mostly (or solely) digital. I see it every time I add a transmission to season 1 of Considering today (You're subscribing right? I'm a creator!) since that one runs on ConvertKit, who can't shut up about all those creator success stories. While the word isn't technically wrong – things are indeed created – I have reservations.

It's mostly the marketing that bothers me. Creator is a shot at targeting people struggling with side hustles. Yeah, that's another term I don't like, but fine, moving on. All those people rolling newsletters with premium subscriptions or online courses, digital handbooks and premium video chat sessions, they're not indie hackers, so what should we call them?

Creators, apparently.

I've been "creating" all my life, then. Which, again, I guess isn't technically wrong. We just didn't call it that back then, when we did our websites and online fanzines, administrated forums and sent our email magazines to our readers. I fail to see what's different, though, other than the targeted marketing and the obligatory thread on how to grow your audience, get rich, and optimise your landing page.

I'm sick of it. I almost picked another provider for Considering today just because ConvertKit – an indie hacker success story – is quite possibly the worst offender out there.

"Old man yells at cloud, from The Simpsons"

My biggest gripe with "creator" as a group, as a term describing what we do with our newsletter subscribers, how we monetize them – because that's what it's all about in the end, don't let anyone tell you otherwise – is that it exist for our egos. This is a low barrier business for people that wants a side hustle, but he or she isn't interested in building a startup. Maybe it's for the lack of competence, maybe it's wanting to do something else – I'm not pointing fingers here. I'm saying that the term "creator" exists to alleviate side hustlers, and make them feel important. Just as those indie hackers, like the startup crowd.

"We've got a term too! We're creators!"

That sort of thinking.

I publish this essay in a newsletter, I've had a member financed iPad-focused site, I've sold ebooks, and all that jazz. By all means, the term "creator" fits me like a glove. That's fine, I don't mind the activities. I mind the marketing and the grandstanding.

But hey, I've been "creating" professionally online since 1996. It was a different thing back then. Maybe people today need to slap a label on things. How else will the algorithm find their threads on X?


🤡 Don’t want to read the Musk biography? Yeah, me neither. This’ll help.

🤪 Reanimated spiders and smart toilets triumph at Ig Nobel prizes. Gloriously stupid things.

🤬 Fuck Chrome and Google’s nasty ad platform. You’d be wise to use another browser.

🪿 Unity is trying to repair its clusterfuck of new business model, which would charge game publishers per game launch. There’s an open letter on the Unity blog, but it matters little at this point. Trust is broken, and while it’s not trivial to change engines during development, rest assured a lot of developers will consider alternatives in their next project.

📱 iOS and iPadOS 17 are out, MacStories has a comprehensive review if you’re interested.

🙈 Elon Musk’s Neuralink approved to recruit humans for brain-implant trial, and given the grisly deaths of the trial monkeys, you’d be crazy to sign on for something like this. If that wasn’t enough, it also seems that they lied about those poor monkeys. Again: Anything with Elon Musk’s hands on it appears to be dishonest and borderline evil.

💧 Wow. Huge Xbox leaks, including unannounced games and hardware, and it was Microsoft’s own fault says the courts. This is such a blow to the people involved in those secret projects. Related: Phil Spencer’s memo.

🧑🏻‍⚖️ George R.R. Martin and other authors sue OpenAI for copyright infringement, joining previously linked lawsuits. Also, the Have I Been Trained? website lets you see if you’re in there, somewhere, although there’s no telling if participating in said website trains something as well…

🚮 95% of all NFTs are basically worthless today, says report. The NFT scheme is dead now, surely?

📚 Project Gutenberg turns classics into audiobooks using AI, which is fine for a project like this, I think.

Got something I should read? Send it to me, either by replying to this letter, tweeting to @tdh, or hitting up on Bluesky. Thanks!


📚 I think I've finally finished The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams when you get this. At least I hope that's true because I'm bored with it as I'm writing this. There better be a damn good cliffhanger to get me to read the next book in the series.

🎵 I've been listening more to Road, the new Alice Cooper album. It's great.

📺 There's going be a new season of the Castlevania show on Netflix, so I've been rewatching the first and second one when I've needed to unwind. Other than that, nothing.

🎮 Yep, I'm deep in Mortal Kombat 1. It's really good, plays good enough on my ROG Ally (although the d-pad there isn't top notch, unfortunately), and great on the Razer Blade. Can't wait for my gaming rig to arrive though, the 4090's gonna make the gore so much gorier in 4K.

Crazy days at Hedengren Agency with a heavy workload, but also fun times and new projects on the horizon. I just need to remember to breathe.

Until next week, have a good one.

— Thord D. Hedengren ⚡

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