Tag Archives: Blogging

The blogging VPAA?

I was thinking over the session coming up at Blog Indiana by John Oak Dalton titled “Chancellor 2.0” which promises to address “existing and emerging obstacles of CEO-grade context” [sic? Was that supposed to be “content”?] for Twitter. In other words, it sounds like the session will be about how to get your college’s upper administration up and running with blogging and tweeting. I’m curious to see what Dalton makes of this, because his home institution seems to have embraced blogging and Twitter at a scale you don’t normally see from a university. Even the chancellor tweets.

I’d love to see more college administrators blogging or twittering, using their real names, making no secret of their institutions, and writing honestly about their successes and struggles in the work that they do. There’s no faster track to giving higher education a measure of transparency that it badly needs than this. That transparency is needed both inside and out.

On the inside, faculty benefit from having a window on what the administration is doing, rather than having an administration that lives and works behind a wall of separation. Students, for whom college administration is especially important but also mysterious, would benefit too. And as faculty have a tendency to objectify administrators and turn them into lay figures to complain about — a mirror image of what many students do to faculty — anything that administrators can do to show people their human side (up to a point, of course; there’s still such a thing as “too much information”) helps the organization operate better.

On the outside, the general public has cultivated such a distrust and dislike for higher education — and can they be blamed, the way we act sometimes? — that giving them that same window on administrative operations would be an honest, unilateral step towards reestablishing the trust that ought to be shared between town and gown. And if I were a parent with a child about to start college, the administrator and faculty blogs would be a valuable source of information about what the college is really like.

If I were a college administrator (not that I’m looking to become one), not only would I be blogging and Twittering regularly, I’d encourage the people who work under me as well as faculty to do the same. I’d be trying to make sure the resources are there to make it happen — dedicated server space for faculty and staff to have their own WordPress installations, and so forth — and most important to make sure that they have permission to speak freely. Imagine what it would be like if your official college blog posts or tweets could be used for your benefit towards tenure.

Are there other college administrators out there who blog or tweet? Or any administrators out there reading this post who don’t, and would care to explain why not?



Filed under Academic freedom, Blogging, Higher ed, Life in academia, Social software, Technology, Tenure, Twitter, Web 2.0

Another new venture; well, actually two.

Back in May, my wife and I found out that our lives were about to get a whole lot more interesting. Everybody, meet Harrison Lewis Talbert, our “surprise” baby and third child overall.

He may not look so big, but he’s having a huge impact on our lives. We’re very happy! But we are also definitely entering some uncharted, and unplanned-for, adventures starting in January, when little Harry is due. To chronicle all this, and since my wife and I are unapologetic nerds who will use any excuse to do something technological, we’ve started up a new family blog: The Talbert Five. We had a family blog twice before, and we tried to make them pseudonymous or password-only, and it was just either too much work (in the former case) or no fun and kind of stagnant (in the latter). So we’re making this blog wide-open and hoping not too many creepy internet people show up. (That doesn’t apply to the always-sophisticated readers of Casting Out Nines, of course.)

So if you’re interested in following what’s happening on the family side of things, hop on board.


Filed under Blog announcements, Family, Personal, Talbert Five

New venture: Young Mathematicians’ Network

I’m happy to announce the start of a new blogging project that has been percolating for about a month now. I will be joining a team of bloggers who will be contributing posts on a more-or-less weekly basis to the website of the Young Mathematicians’ Network. The YMN is an organization devoted to giving support to graduate students and new faculty in the mathematical sciences and raising awareness of issues to that group of people and others who share their interests.

My co-bloggers and I will be putting up articles about all kinds of topics. Some of the other bloggers are blogging anonymously because they’ll be writing about their own job searches or their activities on search committees. Me, I’ve always found anonymous blogging to be too much work, so I will be sticking to posts of particular interest to young math faculty and to grad students — posts that might be a little out of place or perhaps too much of niche pieces here at Casting Out Nines. I plan on either cross-posting or linking to the posts over at YMN, though, so people can go read the stuff if they want.

In fact, here’s my first post — The hiring process as risk management. (You have to register and log in to comment.)

UPDATE 10.18, 11:00 AM: And as soon as I made this announcement, there was a pretty serious technical problem with YMN’s server, and the site’s offline. I’ll update again once it’s fixed.

UPDATE 5:00 PM: It’s fixed.

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Filed under Blog announcements, Life in academia, YMN

New education blogs to check out

Apologies for the long time between posts. The semester is in full swing and it’s a busy one — 14 hour teaching load, chairing Promotion and Tenure, 17 new advisees, and two proposals to finish before the first week of October (one curricular, one grant-related) — and I think I’m only now beginning to get back in rhythm.

Anyway, I just wanted to draw your attention to two noteworthy edublogs that have recently arrived on the scene:

  • Learning Curve is a new edublog by Karen Francisco under the aegis of the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette. Karen was the reporter who interviewed me for this piece on textbook prices and open-source textbooks.
  • Dropout Nation is not a new blog but is recently back from a long hiatus. RiShawn Biddle is the blogger there — a former Indianapolis Star columnist whose articles on education were, and are, particularly hard-hitting and insightful.

Enjoy them both.

1 Comment

Filed under Blogging, Education, Teaching

One kilopost!

Blogging is light right now because I’m on sick kid duty at home. But I wanted to check in to mention that this post is the 1000th post I have made here at Casting Out Nines. I’ve been thinking I need to say something stupendously wise for such a milestone, but I think that’s putting too much pressure on me, as I am accustomed to neither stupendousness nor wisdom. So instead, I just wanted to note some cool stats about the blog:

  • As I said, this is the 1000th post since the blog’s inception on December 3, 2005. That was 949 days ago, so I’ve averaged right at one post per day for 2.5 years. That’s been pretty much my goal for posting and will remain so.
  • This blog has had a total of 9,568 approved comments. That’s an average of about 10 comments per post, which is stat I am particularly pleased with, as it indicates that CO9s is not an echo chamber, as so many blogs are. The median amount of comments per post is probably more like 0 or 1, but at least occasionally there are substantive conversations that arise from the posts here, and I’m very humbled and thankful for that.
  • The Akismet filter has blocked 42,159 spam comments, not counting the 38 that are in the queue right now. I think a spam-to-legitimate comment ratio of 4.5:1 isn’t too bad for a blog these days.

So instead of something stupendous, I’ll just say “thanks” to all readers and commenters, past and present, who have made blogging here such a satisfying and educational experience.

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Filed under Blog announcements, Casting Out Nines

Top 100

This modest weblog has been named one of the Top 100 Liberal Arts Professor Blogs by Online University Review. I’m pleased to be put in such company as Greg Mankiw, Erin O’Connor, and Daniel Drezner. In fact, I’d encourage everyone to go to that article and browse the other 99 blogs listed, just so you can fatten up your RSS feeds a little and get plugged into some good academic blogging you might be missing.

Sadly, no cash prize accompanied this recognition.


Filed under Blog announcements, Blogging, Higher ed

Another opportunity for college student bloggers

If you’re a college student with a blog, and you want some exposure with rather a lot more financial incentive than putting your URL here, then you might consider the College Blogger Contest 2008 sponsored by the America’s Future Foundation. The contest is open to all undergraduate and graduate students 25 years old or younger and carries a prize of $10,000 for the winner. The deadline for submissions is December 31. It appears that submitted blogs need to have a conservative or libertarian slant.

If you’re a blogger and fit this description, go to the link above and check out the full list of rules and sign up. Sounds like a good opportunity.

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Filed under Blogging, Higher ed, Student culture

Calling all student bloggers

The comment on yesterday’s post from Matt, an undergrad in math and computer science at Carnegie-Mellon and blogger at Relatively Speaking, reminded me of just how much I appreciate blogs written by students. As a professor, my job on the “micro” scale is to design and teach mathematics courses and do stuff to help the college operate. But my vocation on the “macro” scale is to help students to think well and to chart their course through life. I like to think that blogging is an extension of that vocation beyond my everyday campus role, and it always excites me to be able to interact with students like Matt who are working hard at the business of learning.

So I’d like to ask any student blogger — especially undergraduates but also high school/homeschool students and graduate students — who is actively maintaining a blog that seriously reflects on their studies and their lives to leave your URL in the comments to this post. I don’t have a blogroll around here — maybe I should? — but I would certainly like to add you to my RSS feeds and keep up with what you’re doing.

And perhaps other readers who are similarly interested might like to glean those URL’s from the comments as well. Who knows, perhaps we can one day have some kind of “Carnival of Undergraduates” or something.


Filed under Blogging, Student culture

As if I needed another online outlet

I’ve just created a “tumblelog“, which is like a blog only much more freeform and less oriented towards articles. You can find it here. I’m just messing around with this idea, using the tumblelog (I already dislike that term) to gather snippets of stuff that I find interesting but not quite worthy of a blog post — raw links to articles and web sites, videos, audio, and so on which I just want to gather and share but not comment on.

There’s an RSS feed at the tumblelog to which you can subscribe if you’re interested, and right now I have it set so that the RSS feed for Casting Out Nines gets sent automatically to the tumblelog, making the tumblelog a one-stop shop for all the stuff I post. (You still have to come here for comments, though.)


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Filed under Blog announcements, Blogging, Casting Out Nines, Social software

A math-blogging revelation

I’ve just made a major discovery: WordPress.com blogs, like this one, allow you to typeset LaTeX directly in your blog posts. For example:

x = \frac{-b \pm \sqrt{b^2 - 4ac}}{2a}

You can put in LaTeX in the comment fields, too. Here’s the FAQ entry that explains it all.  I’m appreciating my switch to WordPress.com more and more each day.

I found this fact out in a comment left by  Terence Tao on the blog of Timothy Gowers, both of whom are not only Fields Medal-winning mathematicians but also WordPress.com bloggers.

1 Comment

Filed under Blogging, LaTeX