After building up 50+ supporters via Patreon over the past couple of years, I’ve decided to delete my account. While it’s been a nice way to have a fund of money to then pay out to some of my favourite creators, that’s no longer enough reason to keep open my account.
I think I’ll continue sending out the newsletter, but probably in a slightly different format. Readership hasn’t been growing of late, which is usually a sign that either I haven’t been putting enough effort in, it’s not quite good enough for people to share, or both.
Although I can’t find the original post, it was Frank Chimero who gave me the naming inspiration for my weekly newsletter. If I remember correctly, he was apologising for the lack of updates, stating that he was working on his book, so everthing else was “just thought shrapnel“. I immediately registered the domain.
The logo I’ve been using for the past couple of years was by Bryan Mathers who asked me one day what he thought of something he’d drawn. It was based on my avatar at the time, in which I was wearing a cap. You can see it in action in a past issue. It’s served me well.
Bryan was the obvious person to turn to, therefore, when I decided to re-imagine Thought Shrapnel as not just a newsletter, but as something more like kottke.org, or Brain Pickings, or Farnam Street. These are more than just blogs or newsletters — they’re a bit of both, an intentional curation by someone who wears their view of the world on their sleeve.
Just check out the logo that Bryan came up with! It’s inspired by the work of Roy Lichenstein:
A few months ago I started a Telegram channel where I’d share directly links I’d just come across. Some of these made it into the newsletter, some didn’t, and I’d add a bit of commentary and emoji. However, as someone committed to the open web and the POSSE model, I was a little bit uncomfortable about continuing this into the new year.
Enter Thought Shrapnel Live! This is a new blog where I share in a more structured and web-friendly way what I would have previously sent directly to the Telegram channel. You can still subscribe via that method, as well as by RSS, web notifications, and the weekly newsletter, but the content is available on the open web.
I’d like to thank my supporters who keep Thought Shrapnel going. The newly-redesigned version of the newsletter goes out on Sunday, and I’m delighted to be able to offer both new and existing supporters laptop stickers that demonstrate their support. Look out for an email about that next week if you’re on the list.
A few years ago I started a newsletter called Things I Learned This Week. It was for my own benefit as I used it as a way to review what I’d come across that week. It started off small, but grew by word of mouth and people forwarding it to their friends.
Last year, I renamed it to Things We Learned This Week as I wanted to make it more inclusive. I’d envisioned people sending me links which I’d curate into something useful. That happened on occasion, but it became clear that people appreciate a clear voice.
So, this summer I rebranded my newsletter Doug Belshaw’s Thought Shrapnel. My good friend Bryan Mathers created a wonderful header image and I set up a page at thoughtshrapnel.com. My aim with Thought Shrapnel is to inform, entertain, and persuade. The current format is:
Tweet of the week
Three main links (education, technology, productivity)
Six shorter links
GIF of the week
Quotation of the week
There’s two simple and straightforward reasons I’ve decided to allow limited, carefully chosen sponsorship. The first is that my newsletter takes time to create. It’s extra to my weekday commitments, taking me away from my wife and children. I need a justification for that. Second, it motivates me to create an issue during a week when I’d otherwise be lazy. There were plenty of issues of Things I Didn’t Learn This Week back in the day.
Sponsoring Doug Belshaw’s Thought Shrapnel gets your message in front of an engaged audience of educators, technologists and productivity enthusiasts. Sponsorship is exclusive: there’s only one sponsor per month.
Here’s how it looks at the top of the newsletter:
There’s also a space for the sponsor’s logo at the bottom of the newsletter.
Check out previous issues of Doug Belshaw’s Thought Shrapnel using the link below. Note that until Issue #185 the newsletter was known under a different name:
If you’d like to make an enquiry, including requesting more detailed statistics, please email me at email@example.com. Multi-month sponsorships and dates further out than six months are also available.