A Year in the Math Blogosphere

For me, the end of the year always is a time for reflection. If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to read Rachel’s round-ups of AMS blog post Part I and Part II.

In the AMS December Notices, Dr. Katherine Thompson wrote her opinion on the role of blogs in our mathematical community in  The Place of Blogs in the Modern Math World As Thompson mentions, while there are many considerations to still be figured out (e.g. structure, defining their success,  lack of peer review) these are an extremely versatile tool that is here to stay.  I was excited to see Blog on Math Blogs has 631 subscribers and an average number of shares over the last 10 posts of 110.2. I am grateful to all of our readers for their support. 

Inspired by this piece and by Dr. Jennifer Quinn’s blog (see my last post), I wanted to take inventory of the lessons learned this year from Blog on Math blogs.

This blog has been a wonderful way to keep learning about fascinating mathematics and the people behind it. The blogs I have toured stood out to me because of their sheer dedication to share and be seen. As you may have realized by now, there is a whole world in the math blogosphere that I have sought to discover. One of the greatest pleasures has been learning from the breadth of content and styles that you get when you allow people the space to be their most creative selves.

This year we toured twenty blogs, wrote about different topics and themes ranging from mental health, crime-fighting, traffic modeling, Black History Month, among others, and interviewed seven bloggers.

Authors have shared their passion for mathematics and beyond, advocated for change, and given us a glimpse of their interests and passions. It begs the question, what will be the role of math blogs in the future? In my opinion, math blogs have opened the door to content that might be inaccessible otherwise (for both mathematicians and non-mathematicians alike). I am grateful for the opportunity to interview authors who joyfully share their blogging journey. If you ask me what the role of blogging and what is its importance is in our community, I think some of our interviewees have given fantastic answers to that question. Below you will find some of my favorite excerpts from the interviews.

“The name of the blog is “Logic ForAll”, now this is what I want, all people using logic formalized or not in the daily activities. But the name is also a pun, because in Brazilian Portuguese we have a dance and a style of music called “forro’ “. I only realized very late that the music (which is great and very danceable) comes from a mispronunciation of the English expression “for all”. So I wanted my blog to be like the music, fun and enjoyable and for all. Also, if possible full of little puzzles and games that it didn’t matter if you didn’t get them. It’s not about competition, it’s about fun!” – Valeria de Paiva in LogicForAll: A Tour

“I’d like to reach non-mathematicians that are curious about what a mathematician does, and how a mathematician works on proving theorems.

I’d also like to reach mathematicians, particularly “mathematicians in training,” who may want to read stories from the point of view of a more senior mathematician. I’m hoping they will relate to these stories or learn useful information about, say, what it’s like to be tenured or what it’s like to be a working mathematician and a parent in a household where both parents work and split childcare evenly. I hope the ‘realism’ in the writing helps people understand that we all struggle sometimes, that we have all gone through tough times and happy times during our careers and that almost all of us fight impostor syndrome.”  –  Álvaro Lozado-Robledo in Field Guide to Mathematics 

“I’ve learned a lot from my interviewees. All of them taught me something. One thing stands out: their definition of success is very different from the usual one. It had more to do with having a balanced life and a satisfactory experience with research and teaching, than with awards and competition. They were compassionate, they thought of their students when thinking of teaching and their collaborators when thinking of research. It’s a very human take on professional success, and it’s what I aspire to.” Contanza Rojas-Molina in Rage of the Blackboard: A Tour.

“So my biggest piece of advice is to make it enjoyable and sustainable for yourself. There are no guarantees that even very good writing will end up getting widely read, but if you enjoy it and find that it helps you learn new things or understand your own ideas better through the act of writing them down, it’ll be worth it.”  – Evelyn Lamb in Farewell, Roots of Unity

“I have learned that blogging pushes me to continue to play and innovate. I often start on one curiosity to find myself down a rabbit hole with the Cheshire Grin. These rabbit holes are what often guide me on life long adventures in learning. When I discover something new, I often go on the quest for who discovered it first – I have this picture in my mind of people rediscovering patterns throughout human history. Another lesson I have learned: I dropped posting for a while when my mom moved in for chemo in January through May. I cherish the time that we had together, and I would say to any blogger that ebbs and flows are part of life, so allow them to be part of your blogging as well.” – Sophia Wood in Fractal Kitty: A Tour

“Something that is important to all of us is that we want people to know that this is a heart project. Because of what we’ve experienced growing up and working in education, we have decided to do something to make a change. Our motivation and inspiration comes from the vision of a future where little Black girls know they rock math and boldly say it with pride. We overcame our math trauma and became something wonderful, so we hope to ease the path for those coming after us. We believe that Black women rock math because Black girls rock math! Now it’s time for the world to know.” – Kaneka Turner, Deborah Peart, and Dionne Aminata in  #BlackWomenRockMath: An Interview

“I have been told that what I post has resonated with folks—not just mathematicians, not just teachers, but many people experiencing this wild and crazy pandemic year.  If they find any comfort, then I consider it a success.” – Dr. Jenny Quinn in Math in the time of Corona: A Tour

I look forward to continuing to discover the treasures in the math blogosphere next year. Until then, thank you for showcasing your math, for reading our posts, and joining Rachel and me as we tour the math blogosphere. Stay safe and happy holidays!

Have an idea for a topic or a blog you would like for me and Rachel to cover in upcoming posts? Reach out in the comments below or on Twitter (@VRiveraQPhD).

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About Vanessa Rivera-Quinones

Mathematics Ph.D. with a passion for telling stories through numbers using mathematical models, data science, science communication, and education. Follow her on Twitter: @VRiveraQPhD.
This entry was posted in Blogs, Current Events, Math Communication, people in math, women in math. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to A Year in the Math Blogosphere

  1. Avatar Shecky R says:

    For any who don’t know of it already the mathblogging.org site tracks posts daily from 100s of math-related blogs… always a good place to find blogs & posts you might otherwise miss:
    http://mathblogging.org/posts.html

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