About this site

About this site

This is the fourth iteration of the Sentiers website, which presents the weekly newsletter but is also an evolving portrait of what’s going on in both my writing and work. You can have a look at the front page for a better idea of the types of ideas one can find in the weekly and other writings.

For a little while I've been calling this whole endeavour a “futures thinking observatory.” The first part is because, although I do know and can work through a full foresight process, I’m also influenced by speculation in all its forms, like science fiction, and believe everyone can engage in creating the future, not just through a professional practice.

Talk, loudly and frequently and in detail, about the future you want.
You can’t manifest what you don’t share.
—Madeline Ashby

The observatory part was already there all the way back when we created The Alpine Review, with our motto “Observing the things that matter.” Even though I created Sentiers as a solo continuation of our explorations and curation work for the magazine, the word “observation” kind of fell away until I happened on this article by Meg Conley, in which I completely recognised myself.

Today, there are all kinds of observatories observing all kinds of things. There are still observatories in clear high places, with telescopes pointed towards the stars. But there are also observatories in the ground, underwater and up in space. They are used to observe the changing winds, the rising tides, the shifting plates, the melting rocks and the dying stars.

The people in these observatories make records of what they see, hear and detect. One observation on its own is a curiosity. But enough observations, from enough people, over enough years can help map a corner of existence.

I am a fan of these observatories! And we need more of them.

This is what this newsletter is about. I observe an eclectic and ever evolving mix of topics, search through various fields, follow my curiosity, try to figure things out, make sense of them, consider them critically in the context of creating better futures, and then report back here every week.

About the author

I’m Patrick Tanguay, I call myself a generalist, a synthesist, or a curator, depending on the day. Catherine Mathys says that I “find the things you didn’t know you were looking for,” which I find quite flattering and, well, pretty accurate.

I’ve long “suffered” from the habit of reading all the time and getting obsessed with certain topics. I’m on my fourth or fifth career, and for each I was self-taught, learning everything I could until I became the person who’s “generally in the know about stuff.”

Sentiers is how I reconcile these habits and the endless knowledge found online: sharing with anyone through the newsletter and then focused on specific needs and goals when collaborating with clients.

Previously I was a web developer for 15 plus years, co-founded the first coworking space in Montréal, Station C, and co-initiated the critically acclaimed print magazine The Alpine Review. Over the years I also helped start a number of groups bringing people and ideas together: The Awesome Foundation Montréal, Webcamp, Creative Mornings Montréal, and Hacks/Hackers Montréal. Back in the day I was steward of the oldest and longest running blogger meetup, Yulblog.

Why the name “sentiers”?

Sentier is a French word that means trail or footpath. It’s often used to refer to a trail one might walk for a trek in nature, perhaps in wooded areas and mountains. I launched this newsletter not long after we put The Alpine Review on hiatus. One of the reasons for the name was as a tip of the hat to that project I loved, and to signal an intent to thread a lot of the same … paths.

I also love using mountains as metaphors for shifting domains, like shifting plate tectonics, or for finding new perspectives, or as landscapes to be explored. Peaks, valleys, passes, frontiers, etc. all work as various ways of imagining topic landscapes.

Of course, finding your way in nature, finding trails, determining a path forward, are all good images for sense making. Going through various regions or ecosystems and being at ease in all of them can also be a metaphor for generalists, to point to a need for transdisciplinarity.

Later on my friend Christine Prefontaine wrote that “interestingly, the word is also close to ‘sentir,’ a verb which means to sense or to feel. So the title also points to the idea of sensemaking.”

In short, the newsletter is called Sentiers to symbolize exploring new ideas, discovering things, making sense of it all, and looking ahead to the future(s).


This used to be a more complex section of the page, as a former web developer I was using a mixed “stack” of technologies, but now everything runs on Ghost Pro which is pretty great. Member payments go through the reliable Stripe. I write and collect my notes in Obsidian and read everything except books in the fantastic Reader by Readwise. A lot of my header images are made with Midjourney which I find wonderful, while being dubious about the whole generative AI model and its impacts.