Friday, October 19, 2012

Why do I keep blogging?

Sometimes I get asked, "Why do you do it?"
"How much time does it take?"

It does require significant time. I estimate I spend an average of 30-60 minutes per post and I try to make one post per weekday.

But, why do it?

1. It is fun.
Why? Probably because I like learning and understanding things. If I have to write something concrete about a paper or an idea then I am forced to understand it better and more carefully think through the basis of my opinions.

2. It saves time.

-On career advice I don't have to keep repeating myself to students and postdocs. I can just refer them to posts on the relevant topics.

-I (or a reader) may detect mistakes in my thinking, that might have gone undetected for a period, wasting time.

-blog=Web log=diary=note book.
It is a good source of notes. Searching old posts I can find information and ideas I have already forgotten about or might be lost otherwise.

-hopefully it is a useful source of information about me (both science and philosophy) for prospective students, postdocs, and collaborators.
This will attract the like-minded and scare off those with different interests and values.

Finally, progress and achievement in science is very slow.
Making a post gives me a tangible sense of achievement for each day.

So even if no one read it I think I would still do it. But, the positive feedback I get is encouragement to keep going. The best encouragement is when a post generates some constructive debate and discussion.


  1. Your blog is great. Keep it up! :)

  2. Ross, one of the main reasons I enjoy your blog so much is your deep commitment to really thinking about science on a day to day basis. This applies even when I can't follow the details of the topic, which is pretty often. Your consistent habit of giving credit to others ("I just read a fascinating preprint by XX...") is a regular antidote to the self-promotion seen in most papers and conference talks. Keep up the good work.

  3. Hi Prof. Ross, I am one of the followers of your blog, and I am really thankful that you are exerting effort in keeping this up to date. I am inspired by your enthusiasm in promoting science, and I am really learning a lot from this blog. Keep it up!

  4. I thoroughly enjoy your blog. Keep it up!

  5. Another silent fan here... Thanks for the good work

  6. Your blog is fantastic. Please keep it up!

  7. Here's a suggestion for a future blog post:

    What's your information diet? From what sources do you get information about new papers, new advances, new news? How much variance do you think there is between the information diets of different individuals? Do top performers have very similar or very dissimilar information diets? Hmmm...

  8. Your blog actually inspired me to start my own at I've since realized that blogging has been one of the most important aspects of my education as a graduate student and as a curious individual. Thanks so much for the inspiration!

  9. I too read your blogs frequently but "This will attract the like-minded and scare off those with different interests and values."
    I don't consider being surrounded by like-minded people as something necessary good as it tend to reinforce preconceived ideas.

  10. Thanks for all the nice comments. They are encouraging. I am glad people find it useful.

    Ted Sanders.
    Thanks for the suggestion of a post on information diet. I will aim to write one.

    I am glad that you are also finding blogging yourself very educational.
    I would encourage others to start their own too.

    Let me try and clarify my desire to work directly with like-minded people. I agree that we don't want to work with people who agree with us about everything, particularly the validity of our own scientific ideas.
    However, I have certain values such as
    -the importance of weekly meeting and reports
    -junior scientists need to be supervised and mentored
    -the priority of relating experiment to theory and visa versa
    -science comes before funding and self-promotion
    -high quality writing and talk presentations
    -work must be put in the context of earlier work
    -the latest quantum/bio/nano fashion will fade away

    It is very difficult (and frustrating and time wasting) to work with people who have different values to these.

  11. "-blog=Web log=diary=note book."
    That is exactly it! I also found it is extremely helpful to leave my thoughts somewhere in public space. Sometimes it is very interesting to return and read discussion threads after years and found how changed my opinions and perspectives.
    Your blog Ross is one of the few I read through years (actually I started long before I arrived Australia and meet Ben) without loss of interest.
    I leave comments very rarely just because I think I can not add something valuable to your deductions.
    Please, continue.