Interview with an Awareness Nerd: Warren Avery’s IT Weekly Newsletter

Tom Pendergast interviews the mind behind one of his favorite InfoSec reads: The IT Weekly Newsletter, put out by Warren Avery.

Warren Avery Reads It All So You Don’t Have To

This is the inaugural post in a semi-planned, semi-regular series of interviews with InfoSec thinkers and writers. Have an idea for someone you think should be profiled? Drop me a note on LinkedIn

What if you could purge your inbox of every industry newsletter, every company blog, and every IT-related magazine in exchange for one single source of all the meatiest articles from the broad world of IT? Weekly? Without advertisements? For free?

With Warren Avery’s IT Weekly Newsletter you get it all—and you get back hours of your time every week.

Don’t be dissuaded by the old school UI. Yeah, the website looks like it was set up in the 1990s (and it probably was). But I don’t complain when I go to the local drive-in burger joint (the Pilchuck Drive-In) to get my soft-serve twist cone. Sometimes old school is good.

I first learned about the newsletter in 2017, when Avery reached out to let me know he was including an article of mine in that week’s list. So I subscribed—and ever since I’ve been the lucky beneficiary of Avery’s labors. He screens the wheat from the chaff so you and I don’t have to.

Simple as One Man Can Make It

The IT Weekly Newsletter is as simple as can be: a list of articles organized into twelve categories.

Some weeks one category is full of news (security was hot last week)—and another category is bare (Cloud Technology).

Avery doesn’t have a quota, but he averages about 25-30 articles per twice weekly issues.

If you want to read an article, you click on the subject heading that links to the Newsletter website where you’ll find the article title with a hyperlink, source, publication date and posting date. That’s it. No summary, no rating, no commentary. Just the news.

But how could it be complex? After all, the IT Weekly Newsletter—and the vast archive of 17,000+ articles searchable by title or keywords—is the work of one man: Warren Avery.

25 Years in the Making

Warren has been doing this for 25 years. He started it back when he was a salesman seeking to recommend helpful articles to his clients and prospects. He committed fully to the newsletter in 2001.

Every day, he gets between 400-600 emails from sources around the world that he churns through.

“80%+ are crap,” he told me, “but I know there are a lot of good articles out there. Our target readers do not have the time to wade through all the smarter, better, faster, cheaper marketing hype. I do that for them. I look for the meatier articles and I can tell within about 20 seconds if something is worth reading.”

“My expertise is 50 miles wide and two feet deep. I do not cover companies, products, or press releases. My whole goal is to find articles that help somebody understand why they must solve a problem. Because if you do not understand the why, then the who, what, where, and when does not matter at all.”

The IT Weekly Newsletter website gets around 200 hits per day on average, with spikes to 700-900 on the days (Wednesday and weekends) that his email Newsletter releases. The site doesn’t use cookies to track you and it accepts no advertising.

“I had companies advertise,” says Avery, “but they change their mind when they learn that their ads don’t generate instant sales or will not buy them placement of their marketing articles. I’ve just never found the secret to making money off it, so I do it for the love of it.” (This may change in the future, as Avery is adding a podcast with Small World Big Data and a videocast with Truth In IT. The links are starting to show up in the Newsletter now.)

Avery’s wife gives him a hard time about all this unpaid labor on the newsletter. But the world’s most curious man says he just loves “hunting for the articles and learning about cutting edge stuff.”

“I have just always been fascinated by technology and where it is going,” he said. “I have lived through a period when, early on, you could sell 53 gigabytes of storage for a million dollars. Now you can go down to the corner store and buy 32 gigabytes thumb drives for $12. If that is not a field that has seen a lot of change, I don’t know what is.”

Avery shows no signs of slowing down—at least slowing down his reading. “I used to do competitive aerobatic flying in an old biplane. Now we have a big 4-wheel Jeep and we like to go drive the back roads and in the mud at our summer home in the Arizona White Mountain town of Pinetop, AZ. But mostly I look for good articles.”

If you’re wondering if his work can make your life easier, check out the website or subscribe directly: https://www.prometheandatasolutions.com/V4-subscribe01.php. It won’t waste your time!

CONFESSIONS OF AN AWARENESS NERD

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