Jun 042016

Some time ago, I stopped putting up regular posts on this blog. Part of the problem was that things happen, and part of it was a technical problem. Hopefully, both issues have been resolved, and it can be started up again.

The IUCr very kindly gave me this space in 2012, and it was up and running for the 2013 SIAM Mathematical Aspects of Materials Science meeting, where there were minisymposia on Geometric Foundations, Beyond Crystal Symmetry, and Structure-Building Principles.

After the SIAM meeting, some people expressed interest in the blog, and it ran for a while. The SIAM meeting led to a Virtual Issue on Mathematical Crystallography in Acta Crystallographica A, and I got the idea of a sort of survey of mathematical crystallography – or of mathematics in crystallography, which turns out not to be quote the same thing. I published a paper in that issue on what the mathematics + crystallography community (communities) look like, and started a sort of survey of the subject on the blog.

This led to two complications.

  • I am a mathematician, and like Lewis Carroll’s White Rabbit, I am therefore prone to begin at the (very) beginning. The result were twelve Mapping the Community posts, from 24 June 2013 to 3 July 2015. Clearly I have just gotten started, but it is not clear how useful these posts are.
  • Blogs tend to function best if there is a working comment function. Comments were quickly overwhelmed by spam, and most people were unwilling to have comments moderated.

There were posts on a few other things (I have been a bit disorganized lately, and will not get up posts on last month’s SIAM conference until another week or so), but lacking feedback, that was it.

As I mentioned in both the Acta paper and in early posts, the experts on whether Newly Emerging Science and Technology efforts succeed or fail depends on recruitment and communication. So the question is how this blog can facilitate recruitment and communication.

  • I am inclined to continue occasional postings on Mapping the Community, unless people ask me to stop. I am not sure what the pace will be. But I suspect that that more topical posts might be more useful.
  • The IUCr webmaster has very kindly installed an Askimet filter (using Captcha) in the comments section, and I have enabled comments. So you can enter a comment, type in the phrase that Askimet produces, and it should appear. We’ll see how this works: after four weeks with the Comments section on, Askimet blocked 5,108 spams, put 17 spams in the spam queue for me to look at, and accepted two (which got posted).

Anyway, comments are now open. To comment on any posting, click on the headline of the post and it should go to that post, with space for comments at the bottom.

The big question is how this blog could be useful. Let’s see how this goes.

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