May 11, 2012 · 1 minute

Googler and Sparkbuy founder Dan Shapiro tonight launched The Best Thing This Year, a new mailing list that lets its members publish just one post a year.

The inaugural post comes from alternate reality game designer Elan Lee, who recently launched a pretty fantastic transmedia TV engine called Rides. Its first show, Dirty Work, launched last week. Dirty Work is like a standard sitcom, but it lets viewers receive text messages, phone calls, email, and video extras related to the show while they’re watching.

Rides, Lee says in his post, is the culmination of a decade of hard work and mistake-making. Here’s an excerpt:

The first few transmedia stories were called Alternate Reality Games and I got really good at making them. I can say that without feeling too full of myself because the way I got good is by making more mistakes than anyone else.  My partners and I have tried the scary approach where you get phone calls in the middle of the night from menacing villains, we’ve tried the athletic approach where we asked you to track down randomly ringing pay phones in the middle of the city, and we’ve tried the overkill approach where you never knew which parts of your life were part of the story and which were not.

Each of these projects helped us plant our flag in the digital soil of Internet storytelling, and each time we built something new, we got a little bit better… and better after that… and better still. Mailing lists have been around since 1986, but they are often let down by excess noise and intermediaries who compromise the pure reading experience. Shapiro’s idea is to re-invent mailing lists based on a Twitter-inspired constraint that makes members care about reading and posting on the service.

Only members can post to TBTTY, and new members have to sit on a waiting list before they are eligible to post. As the member list grows, the wait for posting privileges gets longer. Once a member has posted, she has to wait 365 days for her next opportunity.

As of today’s 7pm launch, the list had 1,200 members.