Some first thoughts on starting a blog.

I am starting this blog motivated by several, seemingly independent, reasons. Probably the most important among them is trying to keep up with a general trend that I certainly feel that concerns me; the Internet is rapidly changing from being a basic static tool for Mathematicians to the place where Mathematics actually happen. Of course, confining this discussion to Mathematics is quite narrow-minded. This is a much more general phenomenon in science, art, in fact, in anything that matters to people. But I will stick to Mathematics because that is this is the subject I am more informed and more involved in. In all the other areas I am just another user who benefits everyday from the available online information, much like any interested person in Mathematics could look up a definition at Wikipedia. I will look up lyrics to songs I like or find information about a movie I would like to watch. I enjoy all the geeky developments happening, I am experimenting with Google Wave and I use many other tools like Google Maps and Google Search (really who doesn’t?) But I am not dynamically part of this; I live on the user end. In Mathematics I could say that I live on both ends. Or rather, that my intention starting this blog, is to experiment a bit more on being part of the dynamic development of the Internet with respect to Mathematics.

Another, more practical reason for starting this blog, is that it will serve as a companion site for future seminars I will organize or participate in, as well as courses that at some point in my career I will hopefully give. So, in a way, I’m using the general public in order to gain experience and feedback on how a course or a seminar should be organized and supported online. That way  the experimenting part on the actual students to come will be somewhat reduced. I admit that my original intention was to use Google Wave (GW) for this task which seems to provide a more user-friendly and less geeky environment to carry such projects through. However, GW is very far from being stable and it is also very far from being practical from a mathematical point of view. The latex support is pretty elementary and still under basic development plus the whole platform is in preview mode which means that not everyone can use it and so on. On the other hand, WordPress has proved to be a very efficient platform for Mathematical blogs, and maybe the “geekiness” involved is just necessary.

Finally, I am a typical obsessive compulsive person. When I am reading an article or a proof in a book, I really need to write down all the details and count all the \epsilon‘s in order to feel I understand what’s going on. Usually I do that on some scrap paper which then gets lost, thrown away, recycled, whatever. Many times I waste a significant amount of time trying to reproduce a specific argument that I had figured out at a previous moment. In other words, I hope that this blog will serve as my own reference as well. Hopefully it can help as such to other people besides me. I think I will focus mostly on review posts, analyzing a certain subject I feel I understand quite well. Besides specific mathematical topics (mostly in Harmonic Analysis) I plan to use this blog in order to discuss issues which are not of mathematical interest, at least not directly so. This could include music, web applications, books, movies, but also subjects that are tangentially related to mathematics as latex related issues, job seeking issues, as well as the discussion I alluded to earlier, that is how mathematics happen and evolve online. Hopefully, I will soon start a post addressing exactly this issue with several links to web sites, blogs and wiki’s that I am aware of.


About ioannis parissis

I'm a postdoc researcher at the Center for mathematical analysis, geometry and dynamical systems at IST, Lisbon, Portugal.
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