Archive for September 26th, 2007

Few more links!

September 26, 2007
  1. With grad student advice, can applying for faculty jobs be far behind? Julianne at Cosmic Variance offers some (unsolicited, but timely for some of us) advice;
  2. Do birds “see” magnetic fields? Clifford at Asymptotia points to some online resources (and, is on the lookout for more info);
  3. Tyler Cowen recommends a couple of very good books; and,
  4. Henry at Crooked Timber on some free software for academics (as well as on their guilty pleasures).

Take a look!

Mukul Kesavan on blogging

September 26, 2007

The average blog tends to be a person’s online journal, an archive of his writing and an inventory of his interests all rolled into one. Narcissism is built into the form. So is coyness. The blogger must do two things at once: cultivate his readers while being his interesting self. All writers have to do this in lesser or greater degree, but nowhere is the lag between writing, reception and response so small, and in no other medium is it so continuous. How to draw attention to your cleverness while being disinterestedly intelligent about matters of general interest becomes the daily challenge for the diligent blogger. It is an impossible tight-rope to walk for any length of time and it invariably ends in unstable combinations of knowingness and modesty or self-congratulation and discretion, whereupon an awful coyness is born.

If the weaknesses of blogging spring from individual self-love, its strengths are collective. Bloggers are the conscience of the internet and, increasingly, of the mainstream media. Any error of fact, however small, made by me on my cricket blog is snouted up in a matter of hours, if not sooner. Bloggers learn to get their facts right because their peers and their readers are so unforgiving. Newspaper columnists used to get away with much more than they do now because there’s an army of unpaid fact-checkers cruising online who see it as their life’s work to ‘fisk’ sloppy opinion or reportage.

Blogging at its best is intelligent conversation between the blogger and his readers. Collectively, blogging serves an important editorial purpose. But, on the whole, blogging produces derivative and self-indulgent writing. It’s ironic that ‘fisking’, the blogger’s verb for aggressive or hostile fact-checking, is named after Robert Fisk, Britain’s most distinguished foreign correspondent, who has lived in and reported from the Middle East for the past quarter of a century. His trenchant critique of Anglo-American foreign policy has made him a byword for bias amongst right-wing bloggers. That a great journalist who has survived danger and risked death to live in the region he reports from, whose reportage has made him the doyen of Middle-Eastern reporting, should become the blogosphere’s measure of unreliability, tells us something about the frictionless sterility of the blogger’s online world.

From the latest Telegraph piece of Mukul Kesavan; and, more interestingly, from the piece, I found that Kesavan does indeed blog about cricket; Cf. with Kesavan’s one of the earlier columns and the responses to it.

A couple of links!

September 26, 2007
  1. Sean’s Unsolicited (but wonderful) advice on how to be a good grad student (Perhaps, it is a little late for some of us; but then, it is too good a piece to be passed over); and,
  2. Oliver Sacks’ iPod playlist (No, he does not have one; it is the list of songs he would have in his iPod, if he happens to own one).

HowTo: write a better resume

September 26, 2007

A (programmer specific) list of ten tips from Stevey’s blog rants:

  1. Nobody cares about you;
  2. Use plain text;
  3. Check, please;
  4. Avoid weasel words;
  5. Avoid wank words;
  6. Don’t be a certified loser;
  7. Don’t say “expert” unless you really mean it;
  8. Don’t tip you hand;
  9. Don’t bore us to death; and,
  10. Don’t be a lying scumbag.

Take a look!