Monday, April 11, 2005

Blogging Hiatus

I haven't been posting much recently. I'm busy, but not more so than usual (for me or for anyone else). I've been busy writing, be it ever so slowly, documentation for my code, papers for publication, and a thesis; and I've been busy reading, and doing mathematics, and programming. But this blog has been largely independent of those things in the past; so why so few posts?

I'm curious about the world, and about other people's work and ideas. I enjoy learning from my friends, by listening or by asking questions or just by observing; and in my turn, I enjoy explaining things. I don't just think my interests are interesting; many are interesting. It's a sort of gut belief: I realize abstractly that not everyone would sympathize with my interest, but that realization has no permanent home in my mind, and so I sometimes forget. I started blogging because I wanted to write about these interesting things, to set them in concrete form to share with others.

However interesting a thing may be, though, it interests different people in different ways. English is full of good words for physical phenomena: interfaces, vortices, breaking waves, vibrations, pressures, currents, orbits, attractions and repulsions. But though I can speak to anyone of a traveling wave and invoke a mental picture, I can invoke the same picture in relatively few with the words essential spectrum. Audience matters. So when blogging about technical matters, I find myself wondering why? Why not write a technical note for a technical audience, either to publish or to post on my web page? Or why not write a less technical article and spend enough time on it (and use enough pages) that I can really craft a good, accessible description of what it is that so interests me about my topic? Or why not grab one of my colleagues or professors and spend fifteen minutes to ask him what he thinks? The blog format doesn't lend itself to any of these expository modes.

For the non-technical things, too, a blog is a poor audience. I can write for myself, or for a few friends I know, or for my family, and the words I write will have meaning for some others. But I'm a sufficiently private person that what I write in a public forum is not the same as what I'd write in a letter to friends or family; and increasingly, I'd as lief write a letter or e-mail as write a blog entry. When placed in the context of a day, it is a fine thing to write that I took a walk in the sun or that I read a great article. If I don't feel like describing the context, though, those statements become banal, or at least far less fine than the experiences of walking and reading. The right response to a brisk walk, for me, is a grin; and I'm far more satisfied when people smile back than when I write I walked, and was happy.

So I'm taking a break from blogging. I do not expect to post here again until the end of the month, and possibly until the end of the summer. I'll take stock and decide whether or not I want to blog any more, and if so, in what form. With a little luck, I will have a thesis draft done by the summer's end, and will not feel so guilty or grouchy about getting distracted by this blog. I will probably start posting articles to my web page involving technical topics (some of them elementary, some of them less so), and, as ever, I will try to keep up with my correspondence.

May all be well with you -- whoever and wherever all of you are.

-- David

  • Currently drinking: Lychee-flavored black tea