Issue #431
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👋🏼 Hello!

Yeah, I skipped a month. This is a side project, these things happen 🤷

The beta version of Bonfire is now live! After doing some work around misinformation as part of the Zappa project, I've been helping out with draft posts, suggesting tweaks to the UX, and recording a screencast. If you're interested in federated networks, you might want to help out by doing some testing?

This week has been a horrendous one for rights in the US (guns, abortion, police) so if you're reading this from there, and/or are an US citizen, my condolences. Attacks on liberty anywhere are attacks on liberty everywhere.

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💥 Best of Thought Shrapnel

Of the 38 posts I published in June 2022 on Thought Shrapnel, these were my three favourites.
people and laptops

The internet is broken because the internet is a business

I ended up cancelling my Verso books subscription because I was overwhelmed with the number of amazing books coming out every month. This looks like one to keep an eye out for.
Several decades into our experiment with the internet, we appear to have reached a crossroads. The connection that it enables and the various forms of interaction that grow out of it have undoubtedly brought benefits. People can more easily communicate with the people they love, access knowledge to keep themselves informed or entertained, and find myriad new opportunities that otherwise might have been out of reach.

But if you ask people today, for all those positive attributes, they’re also likely to tell you that the internet has several big problems. The new Brandeisian movement calling to “break up Big Tech” will say that the problem is monopolization and the power that major tech companies have accrued as a result. Other activists may frame the problem as the ability of companies or the state to use the new tools offered by this digital infrastructure to intrude on our privacy or restrict our ability to freely express ourselves. Depending on how the problem is defined, a series of reforms are presented that claim to rein in those undesirable actions and get companies to embrace a more ethical digital capitalism.

There’s certainly some truth to the claims of these activists, and aspects of their proposed reforms could make an important difference to our online experiences. But in his new book ‘Internet for the People: The Fight for Our Digital Future’, Ben Tarnoff argues that those criticisms fail to identify the true problem with the internet. Monopolization, surveillance, and any number of other issues are the product of a much deeper flaw in the system.

“The root is simple,” writes Tarnoff: “The internet is broken because the internet is a business.”
Source: The Privatized Internet Has Failed Us | Jacobin

Developing your own style (and archive)

I like the way that Warren Ellis works out loud. I’ve read some great books because of this, and learned a lot about developing your own style.

I no longer look at traffic stats. I know what it is. That’s not what this site is for. This is a space for achieving personal goals: I’m using it to get thoughts out in front of me where I can see them properly, and if you’re here with me reading over my shoulder, I’m happy with that.


[T]his place should be a repository of all the things that interest me and teach me, under the general rubric of storytelling, culture and knowledge work. That’s the focus. This is a tool. That means, among other things, that I need to get better at deep linking back into the archive of the site. This is one thing that social media trained us out of. If you’ve been around a while, tumblelogs kind of did that to us too.


Modifier: “evolving the tools” becomes its own rabbit hole. Just learn the habit of putting stuff where you can fucking find it later, Warren.
Source: LTD Development | WARREN ELLIS LTD
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Subscriber count as power level against algorithmic demons

I’ve done a lot of writing for work this week and needed to hear some of the things in this post by Justin Murphy. Great stuff.
Mustering the discipline to write on a regular basis is a battle against yourself, against your own feeling that it doesn’t matter.

Finding the will to click the publish button is a battle against yourself, against your own feeling that it’s not worth it.
You feel nervous about what your readers will think, but that makes no sense. They subscribed to you because they want to know what you think; you have zero reason to care what they think. If you really care what your readers think, then go subscribe to them. You are not subscribed to your readers because you do not care what they think. Now act like it.
Source: Writing is a Single-Player Game | Other Life

✍️ The rest of Thought Shrapnel

There are other nuggets, but it's up to you to find them! Here's the other 35 posts I published:

📅 Weeknotes

  • Weeknote 25/2022 — "It’s Saturday afternoon and I’m making my way through my second beer. Our eldest is out on the first day of his DofE expedition, and we’re back from taking our youngest to..."
  • Weeknote 24/2022 — "It’s Father’s Day in the UK today. I was given a staggering two bottles of whisky by my wife and kids, which was very generous. My daughter gave me a card she made after finishing her work at school, and both kids gave me..."
  • Weeknote 23/2022 — "A couple of years ago I listened to Tim Ferriss interview Caterina Fake. Among other things, she was co-founder of Flickr, and (as the interview revealed) she is an all-round awesome..."
  • Weeknote 22/2022 — "This week has been half-term for our kids. As I’ve committed to taking three weeks off in April, August, and December this year, I can’t really take each..."

Until next month!

Doug Belshaw
Thought Shrapnel Weekly is published by Dr. Doug Belshaw. You can connect with him by replying to this email, or via the socials.

Some say he's fitter than ever. Others say he's not very clever. No-one thinks he'll live forever.
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