Wednesday, January 1, 2014

It Was A Very Good Year... math blogging, anyway  (...sayonara 2013).

Wasn't going to do any sort of year-end blog retrospective this year, but having scanned several at other math blogs, am feeling a little more inspired now… at around 240 posts(!) last year, Math-Frolic though, would require too much effort to sort through for favorites. So instead I'll just highlight some favorites (from the mere 33 total) over at MathTango, in case you missed any of these...

I love doing the interviews and learning more about people who, before the internet, I'd never imagine crossing paths/words with. Some of my favorite interviews aren't with 'big' names, but rather with folks I know very little about, and thus most of what I hear from them is new to me. Thus, it won't be quite so surprising that my May 1 interview with Vickie Kearn of Princeton University Press is a favorite -- she doesn't blog, write math books, or teach… rather, as an editor at PUP she operates behind the math scenes shepherding the books we love to fruition. It was fun and fascinating to learn more about how that whole process works at likely the best publisher of popular math around.

I also have to admit (excu-u-u-use the self-promotion) that I had a lot of fun interviewing myself(!) back on Sept. 22.

All of that said, the interview which actually drew the most hits from the Web was, not altogether surprisingly, my second (June 21) interview with Keith Devlin, which involved NO math, but spelled out Keith's thoughts about the Ed Snowden/NSA controversy, which has been newsworthy ever since.

I've occasionally used MathTango as a place to write "essays" about various mathy matters. My favorite in that category came Sept 11 ("Mathematics… Not Immune") and was centered around the topic of "skepticism" -- it was in part a followup to an Aug. 24 post ("Numbers, Mnemonism, Savantism, Oh My") related to Daniel Tammet's last book.

Finally, I love finding popular math books that I can enthusiastically recommend to readers. Hands-down my favorite, heartfelt review ("Undiluted Martin Gardner") last Oct. 1, was of Martin Gardner's autobiography (and the week prior I wrote a shorter, broader-brush review of the same volume).

Two other mini-reviews I especially enjoyed writing were, "From Whence…?", a review of Jim Holt's "Why Does the World Exist?" (Apr. 21) and  "In Love… With Math," my Oct. 21 take on Ed Frenkel's "Love and Math," a widely-acclaimed book I relished, despite my inability to fathom large chunks of it.

Having highlighted those reviews, I will mention however that the book I MOST enjoyed reading this year, and which I wish had more momentum behind it, remains "The Outer Limits of Reason" by Noson Yanofsky… phenomenal volume for a wide range of folks!

If you missed any of those posts I do hope you'll go back and take a gander... or alternatively, any oldsters out there can just sit back and reminisce with this classic piece of nostalgia:

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