Friday, June 19, 2009

The Story of the Blog

Google is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Blogger by asking its users to write the stories of their blogs. I'll bite as this blog has become such a a large part of my life and I like to think a part for the theoretical computer science community and beyond.

In 2002 I read a Newsweek article on then new phenomenon on blogging. I decided to give it a try. I wanted to blog on a specific topic and so I started blogging on the topic I know best. On August 22, 2002 I started "My Computational Complexity Web Log", the first major blog devoted to theoretical computer science. The blog gained in readership after a sardonic mention in Jason Kottke's popular blog. All of a sudden I had thousands of readers interested in computational complexity. In that first year I wrote mostly technical posts. I did a set of posts entitled Foundations of Complexity giving an introduction to the field and a series Complexity Class of the Week where I would review results and questions about a specific complexity class. Later on I wrote a monthly series of my Favorite Theorems in the field.

But the technical posts take considerable effort to write and proofread so I started writing more opinion and academic-oriented posts. The blog became a meeting place for the theoretical computer science community where we would have some discussions, sometimes quite heated, over the issues of concern to our community. Most of the young people I would meet at conferences knew me more for the blog than for my research. For a while a Google search on my name led to the blog before it led to me.

Changes happen. I shortened the name of the blog and experimented with podcasting. In March of 2007 after a post on turtles, I realized I was just going through the motions and decided to retire from blogging. Bill Gasarch took over the blog and kept it going. But I had too much I wanted to say and rejoined the blog in January 2008. Since then Bill and I have co-written this blog trying to get out a post every working day.

Now we have many excellent blogs in theoretical computer science ranging from very technical to very amusing. We strive to be the blog of record, the weblog people turn to to learn about the issues and happenings in the community. Weblogs have become the places that brings our ever growing academic community together in a way our conferences no longer can. I'm glad this blog is able to play its part in that effort.

1 comment:

  1. > Weblogs have become the places
    > that brings our ever growing
    > academic community together in a
    > way our conferences no longer can.

    That is so true. Blogs are no substitutes to conferences, but as a researcher in a country where complexity theorists are few and far between I find that blogs help me feel like a member of a larger community.

    Plus, I actually learn something from time to time.
    Keep on the good blogging!