🏭 [Announcement] Sep 2023

(1 min) The Column is changing, here are the details.

Last Friday’s newsletter was very different from “The Column” as you’ve come to know it. Over the last 3 years, I’ve written The Column (almost) exclusively in the third person, and I’ve stuck to roughly the same format (a couple of news stories, followed by some more headlines, and some cyclical sections like the molecule of the day)—and it has worked pretty well—there are 10k+ of you reading the newsletter 500+ editions later.

That being said, the newsletter isn’t as good as it could be. So I’m going to be making some necessary changes:

  • I will still cover the news, but just the most important news, and just 1-2 times per week; I think the quality will be better. Not every press release deserves coverage…

  • I will provide more commentary in the additional headlines section instead of just one sentence with a link.

  • I won’t refrain from writing in the first person when it makes sense (i.e. when there’s an opinion or uncertainty worth disclosing).

  • I will eventually move away from The Column’s brand name. People outside of the chemical industry simply don’t understand it, and I do want to appeal to a broader audience. I like “Feedstockland”.

  • I will occasionally write little blurbs and half baked thoughts, like the one I wrote last Friday. These will usually go out to paid readers.

  • I will start running educational series on various parts of various value chains (i.e. battery materials, semiconductor materials, and all of the petrochemicals you know from the molecule of the day). This is inspired by the molecule or product of the day.

  • I am retiring some of The Column’s gimmicks, like the memes, because I’ve been recycling the same ones for years and they aren’t that funny.

For what it’s worth, much of this is also brought on by advancements in the world of LLMs (I’m sure by now you’re familiar with ChatGPT and all of its cousins). Context and synthesis are being commoditized in the world of writing, so I have to move on to providing more than that. Which ultimately boils down to excellent curation (knowing what is interesting to write about) and question-asking (knowing what questions are the most interesting to ask).

I think this is a good thing across the board, but it is a change, and I understand that some of you may not like that. So I’m curious:

What do you think about the changes?

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Expect a news update on Wednesday!

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