Class work: explore math blogs

One of the most enjoyable ways to participate in the mathematics community is to keep up with blogs. In this short assignment, we’ll learn to use just one tool for browsing mathematics.

One easy way to get started with blogs is to use math blog aggregator site mathblogging.org. Once there, you can try any of the following methods to locate something you like:

  • Look at the Editor’s picks on the front page;
  • See all recent posts: click the large menu button called Posts;
  • Filter posts by topic: click the Filters button, select several items that interest you, and click the small blue button called posts; or
  • Search for posts by keyword, for example, try typing “fractals” into the search box.

When your search results are displayed, you can click the grey area on a search result to see a short summary.

Choose one post

Now comes the process of selecting an article to read. Here are some guidelines.

  • Choose an article that actually contains mathematics. Many bloggers write about educational practices, or a meeting they had at work yesterday, etc. These posts may be interesting, but not for today.
  • Make sure the article is accessible. Often, authors will include links to prior, introductory posts near the top of the article. Keep following these back-links until you find something written for a general reader. For instance, if an author is discussing “technical properties of phlangifolds”, he or she may link to an “introduction to phlangifolds” on the same or another blog. If this isn’t working, start over.

Respond to the post

After you’ve finished reading the blog post of your choice, leave a comment on the post! You may comment directly on the post’s site, or you may create an account on mathblogging.org and leave the comment on the post’s entry. Here are some guidelines to help you leave a meaningful response.

  • Mention one thing in the post that you found interesting (or surprising, or in some way thought-provoking).
  • Say why you found those items interesting. Did it connect with your knowledge or experiences?
  • If the post contains a question for the reader (such as “what do you think about…”), respond to that question.
  • If you have a question for the author or fellow readers, ask your question.

Tell us about it

At the end of the class, I’ll ask each of you to take one minute or so to tell us what you found, why it was interesting, and what you said in your comment.