Carnivale! August 27, 2007Posted by Ben Webster in blog triumphalism, carnivals.
Greetings, readers of Math Blog Carnival!
Since a new carnival is up, and a few interested readers are circulating this site, I thought it might be a good time to resurrect a slightly old discussion on the place of research in the mathematics carnival. Some people seem to think research is getting short shrift with respect to education/elementary mathematics posts (in large part because the mathematics education blogs seem to hosting the carnival), and thus should get its own carnival.
While in general, I don’t really think this is an issue worth getting exercised about (aren’t carnivals about fun, specifically getting as much as possible before Lent?), my general feeling is that a mathematics research carnival is fairly bad idea. As far as I understand it, a blog carnival is about helping people find good posts (and by extension, good blogs) that they wouldn’t have found otherwise.
You all are free to disagree with me, but I don’t think there are enough good posts out there on math research that I can’t find myself. Note that the “that I can’t find myself” is really important. There are some good blogs on research that I like, but I know about them. Most are in my blogroll or personal RSS. There might be a couple more hiding out there that have never linked to me, and aren’t on the blogroll of anyone I read, but I kind of doubt. I feel pretty certain that there aren’t enough to keep a carnival fresh and interesting for me every month.
Or, let me put it this way. This is what a good carnival looks like; sustaining such a carnival requires a large and active blogging community, so that there is a lot of cream to skim off the top. Given the built-in obscurity of most math research (and the fragmentation of the field; what’s next, categorical quantum field theory carnival?), I would say we need a larger community than usual to sustain a carnival. Do we have that community yet in research mathematics blogging? In my view, not really; quite the opposite. If you ask me, a carnival for all of mathematics is pushing it a little, but clearly has a lot more material to work with than a purely research carnival.
And if you don’t think there’s not enough research in the mathematics carnival, there’s a simple solution;
- Encourage your mathematical friends (and nemises) to blog. At gunpoint, if necessary.
- Write more good, accessible, research based posts yourself and submit them to the next carnival.
- Promote the mathematics carnival to your fellow bloggers (Seriously. It needs all the publicity it can get).
If we do these things, and it looks like good, accessible, research blogging is being systematically ignored, then we can talk about a carnival of our own. Until then, let’s get back to the math.