I regularly read blogs by three mathematicians, and occasionally run into others. Definitely they help me a lot studying mathematics.

But now I am more interested in the writers' perspective, and I wonder whether writing a math blog help study mathematics. What are the pros and cons for the writer himself, especially for a first-year graduate student?

A lot of users have tons of experience writing blogs. I really want to hear your opinion on this.

Thanks!

Maybe I just start writing some of my own thoughts: cons: 1. writing a blog consumes lots of time. pros: 1. writing a blog forces you to think deeply and clearly; 2. it helps you learn how to communicate mathematics; 3. it might help you connect to others who share your passion.

  • this question has been on my mind too, what blogs do you keep up with? – Mr.Guy May 24 '13 at 2:30
  • Murakami (the writer, not the knot theorist) says he doesn't understand something until he writes about it. I've found that true for me too. Maybe it works for you. – Gunnar Þór Magnússon Jan 15 '16 at 2:41
up vote 11 down vote accepted
+50

What do you want to do with your math blog? What can a math blog do for you? These are the questions you want to be asking before starting up a math blog.

Some people (such as myself) write a math blog much like people write other personal blogs. They may discuss their day-to-day lives (or the mathematically related pats of them) and the mathematics may be a recurring theme, but mathematical exposition might not always be the overall focus.

Others use math blogs to organize and disseminate mathematical exposition. One use is writing and posting notes on some mathematics you are doing at the moment. Terence Tao's blog is an example where you can catch glimpses of his research in some of his posts.

Some students use blogs to store notes on their studies, but I think this practice is meaningful if and only if you intend for others to view and benefit from or comment on the notes. Abstract Nonsense in one such blog. If you don't care for others reading and interacting with your notes, then it's probably best to keep them offline.

Some blogs are topic-oriented, like Sketches of Topology. They are useful for getting people interested in your research and finding people who share your interests to interact with.

Some blogs have an explicitly educational/organizational purpose. Secret Blogging Seminar is organized by a group of mathematicians who discuss topics that they or the community think are important. There is a blog at http://392c.wordpress.com/ that is devoted to a specific course.

Finally, many blogs are there because mathematicians want to reach out to the broader mathematical and scientific community, for reasons varying from research collaboration, idea-bouncing, community feedback, commenting on current events in the field, and so on. Terence Tao and Tim Gowers and others have blogs that exemplify this sort of use, as well as combining all of the above.

What you should do is see for yourself what needs you want to fill via a math blog. Many blogs are an eclectic mix of all the purposes I have described above, and some do other things as well, like Polymath. Always keep in mind, though: much like mathematics is no spectator sport, mathematical blogging is really a team sport. To get the most out of a mathematics blog, I think you should try to reach out to the community and make new friends and connections.

  • This is not exactly what I am looking for. But thanks for the detailed analysis and all the effort. – Hui Yu May 24 '13 at 14:27

There are many pros of writing a blog or any other website to discuss math. I can see the following in my case:

  1. Prepare a set of notes for a course you are taking, which in turn helps you with learning the material.

  2. As a graduate student you shall be expected to write, so writing in a blog gives you some habit and makes your style clearer and also makes it possible for you to judge which articles people like and how you wrote them,

  3. Communicating good, solid and rare ideas to the community is an extremely good habit and would give you a sense of accomplishment.

There will be cons too, I just mention one is that it will take you substantial time before you can do it in an efficient way and in a manner that is accessible to a person who is not much conversant with your field of expertise.

I have thought about the pros and cons, since I have a math blog.

Pros:

  • If you enjoy blogging, it will add fun to your daily studying. There is sense of achievement to see your blog growing.

  • Added recognition, if your blog is under your name, it may have a positive effect in boosting your reputation which may help for your future job search

  • If your blog is a bit popular, you may even earn a very small income from ads/ affiliate links.

  • Help you remember theorems and proofs more clearly than just reading them.

  • Improve your writing skills

  • Contribute and help others who may be searching for the topic you are writing. For me it is very satisfying when I see someone searching and finding what I have written.

Cons:

  • Time consuming, the time you spent blogging could be spent on solving another question/ proving another proof.

  • For beginning students who may make many mistakes, putting them online may affect reputation. Anonymous blog will solve this issue though.

  • Leak out secret ideas. This is possibly only for those at the frontier of research in a competitive field.

These are the few possible cons I can think of..

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