This morning I got an email pointedly criticizing several aspects of this blog — including my handling of l’affaire Chad Okere, and my ridiculing (as opposed to answering) people who think that if P=NP, the major implication would be that airlines could schedule their flights better. The author summed up his critique as follows:

I like your blog. I only wish it would be a little bit more about complexity theory and things at least vaguely related. You have a knack for writing, and for making hard things easy. That’s something which separates you from the large majority of the (blogging) complexity theorists. I understand that you blog in order to procrastinate, and that you have no special obligation to write about anything you don’t want to write about, but I don’t believe I’m alone in thinking that such talent could nonetheless be used to better ends than writing about biting vaginas.

Godammit, I muttered. Though he overestimates my talent, the dude has a point. In my constant battle against predictability, I’ve become too self-absorbed — like Frank Gehry designing the MIT Stata Center, or a Playboy model discoursing on international politics. I’ve neglected the meat-and-potatoes that readers want and expect from me.

So, welcome to a reconceptualized shtetl. From now on I’ll be sure to ladle out the heaping helpings of complexity you crave. The danger, of course, is that as the earnestness and scientific-ness goes up, the sexual innuendoes, heavy-handed irony, ethnic jokes, and crass ridicule will decrease proportionately. Rest assured that I’ll guard against that possibility.

13 Responses to “Repentance”

  1. nic Says:

    You should blog the way you enjoy it, you’re not responsible to anyone! (ahhh, academia…)

  2. wolfgang Says:

    > the major implication would be that airlines could schedule their flights better

    what could be wrong with airline flight schedules?

  3. Andy D Says:

    thanks, scott! I look forward to more complexity, though I enjoy your other posts.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Although I mostly agree with the person who emailed you that your best blog entries are about your area of expertise, I would not say that this is quite restricted to complexity theory. I think that some of your best posts have been on mathematical science in general, such as “A trivial post,” and “It’s science if it bites back.”

  5. L Says:

    The meat-and-potatoes that I expect of you, based on your early months of blogging, is stuff like academic institutions.

  6. michael vassar Says:

    I’m mostly interested in the discussions of how academia could work better.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    I’m mostly interested in byting genetilia.

  8. Osias Says:

    >>you’re not responsible to anyone!

    Sooo wrong! Didn’t you read the Little Prince?

  9. Kenny Says:

    Hey – the Stata Center is meat-and-potatoes Gehry design! Every philosophy department should be so lucky as the MIT one!

  10. Anonymous Says:

    Too bad, Scott — I enjoyed the mix so far! 🙂

  11. Dr. Vector Says:

    What’s up? This is your blog, you can do with it what you like.

    I’m a paleontologist whose math knowledge craps out somewhere in lower calculus. When the ultradense acronyms start flying around, I just hang on for the ride. I like the way that you write about the problems you work on, even though I don’t understand those problems; it inspires me to go do battle with my own problems.

    But I also like the way that you write about institutional wackiness, dumb famous people, Earth Day, biting vaginas, and other non-complexity-related subjects. I’d hate to see you lose that out of some feeling of obligation to be all complexity all the time.

    Look, you’re not going to lose any of your fellow complexiticians if you blog about other subjects. To be blunt, they can’t afford not to read you. But I can, and if it counts for anything, I liked you better as an omnivore.

  12. Shtetl-Optimized » Blog Archive » Back to safe territory Says:

    […] When you see me getting chased across the blogosphere by livid, paintbrush-wielding artistes, it can only mean one thing: that I’ve once again abandoned my “promise” to stick to the Serious Complexity Theory That I’m Actually Qualified To Discuss. So I’ll tell you what, whistling-pig-lovers: answer me the following; then come back for more. Given a set of n-by-n real matrices, is there a nonzero linear combination of those matrices with rank 1? Equivalently, given a subspace S of a bipartite n-by-n Hilbert space, does S contain a separable state? […]

  13. Shtetl-Optimized » Blog Archive » What is the name of this post? Says:

    […] Shtetl-Optimized « Repentance And while I’m at it » […]