I've recently been trying to take advantage of the recent upswing in interest in Emacs by working on things to help folks get started easily. I'm proud to announce that I'm working with the illustrious Geoffrey Grosenbach on a Peepcode screencast about learning Emacs and Lisp. Peepcode is well-known especially in the Ruby community for producing high-quality, hour-long, informative commercial screencasts. I'm doing the writing and coding for it, and Geoff will bring his trademark charm with voiceovers and slick recording.
Geoff makes it look easy, but creating a professional screencast is actually tons of work. I'm nearly half-way through writing the outline, but the outline is only the beginning. I know a lot of people are looking forward to this, so I'm eager to get something out there soon.
While you're waiting on me, you can take a look at my new project called the Emacs Starter Kit. It's designed to be a companion to the Peepcode—a set of dotfiles extracted from my years of obsessive Emacs tweaking. It acts as a base config from which new users can get going with minimal fuss. You won't learn Emacs from it, but it will help you get started out as it provides saner defaults and bundles a lot of really useful functionality.
I've been using it as my main config for quite some time now, so it's got all the libraries I need. If you're interested in trying out with Emacs but don't know where to start, give this a shot. If you're an old hand but are curious to pick up some new tricks, try out the starter kit and let me know if it's missing some must-have functionality that you're used to.
Update: Geoff posted a short screencast on getting around Emacs and his first impressions. It should serve as a nice teaser.
Update: Please don't use the Emacs Starter Kit; the approach of bundling together unrelated functionality has a number of inherent problems, and it's much better addressed by small, focused packages. Check out better-defaults for a better solution.