Ever since I started blogging, I’ve wondered why academics don’t embrace blogs and other social media. In fact, I just blogged about it earlier today. But a great example of an academic who gets blogging is Daniel Lemire.
Daniel has been blogging since May 2004. He is a professor of computer science at the Université du Québec à Montréal (yes, he also has a French-language blogue). Perhaps it is to be expected that he has made the most of online media, as he teaches almost exclusively online, in areas that include information retrieval and data mining. He’s also spent some time outside the ivory tower; his industry accomplishments include the design of signal processing and recommendation systems.
Daniel’s blog doesn’t have a mission statement, but he is at his best–and most passionate–when presenting his perspective on computer science research. He cites these as some of his best posts:
- How to solve hard problems
- How University professors ought to be teaching
- How to become smarter
- My research process
- Why is Computer Science Education Obselete?
As should also be clear from these titles, Daniel has personality. He doesn’t pull punches, and his candor and passion make for great reading. Moreover, his openness brings out the same in his commenters, which ensures that his more controversial posts become engaging discussion forums.
One quirk of his blog: in order to post, you have to pass a CAPTCHA that requires answering a Roman numeral arithmetic question. He soon discovered, however, that the Google calculator happily performs this task. He posted about it:
I can’t help but imagine the discussion between between the Google engineer and his boss:
- (Engineer) Hi boss! I plan a new feature for our search engine…roman numeral arithmetic!
- (Harvard MBA) What a great idea! (Thinking to himself: I need to replace this guy.)