A font like a clown 
I'm in the process of moving, which means that I'm sorting through scraps of paper that accumulated in my office. Some of these are short ideas which I kept because I'm fond of them. Rather than throw them away or retain them as clutter in the new office, I'm sticking a pin in them by posting them here.
It's as if, every time someone drew a picture of their father, they drew Ronald McDonald without realizing that there were other options.

Years ago, I was thinking about writing a paper about the then-ubiquitous computer font Comic Sans. I was not going to complain that it's ugly, because some people have bad taste and so disagree. Instead, I was going to argue that Comic Sans reflected a kind of alienation. People use a standard font like Times or Helvetica when they want to be serious and official. When they use a handwriting font or something else non-standard, they mean to be injective levity and personality into the thing they're typing up. But Comic Sans, precisely because it's ubiquitous, is not personal or expressive at all.

The invitation to Das Man's birthday party is written in Comic Sans.

[ add comment ] ( 1 view )   |  [ 0 trackbacks ]   |  permalink
A sophism on a Thursday 
No True Scotsman is a fallacy.
Anything which is not a fallacy is a legitimate bit of reasoning.
Therefore, all true Scots are legitimate bits of reasoning.

[ add comment ] ( 18 views )   |  [ 0 trackbacks ]   |  permalink
Other open access logic books 
I realized today that forall x is almost ten years old. I wrote it in the summer of 2005, mostly at the Peet's on Villa La Jolla Drive, and released version 1.0 on July 13 of that year.

I recently heard about A Concise Introduction to Logic, a book that Craig DeLancey of SUNY Oswego is for the OpenSUNY initiative. When they did their call for proposals, forall x wasn't eligible because it had the demerit of already existing!

I learned today about the Open Logic Project, masterminded by Richard Zach (Calgary) with an all-star list of editors and contributors. Unlike forall x, it's an intermediate level book.

Zach and company are using Github to automate bug reports and feature requests, which is an idea I really like. The LaTeX source files of forall x are freely available and it has forked multiple times, but I still maintain the original version on my own computer. I occasionally get corrections and requests, but by e-mail. Alas, I suspect most users of forall x are not the sort of people who would submit corrections and requests that way anyhow.

[ add comment ] ( 16 views )   |  [ 0 trackbacks ]   |  permalink
LeWitt (1968) x Conway (1970) 
Divide a wall into a square grid. Mark arbitrary grid elements with a horizontal line about one-fifth of the way down in the square.

For every cell that was marked to begin with, if it is adjacent to two or three marked squares, mark it with another horizontal line about two-fifths of the way down in the square.
For every unmarked cell, mark it with a line if exactly three of the adjacent grid elements are marked.

Repeat with lines horizontal lines three-fifths of the way down, based on the previous lines.

Continue for a total of twenty sets of lines: The fifth set of lines will be at the bottom of the squares. For the sixth set of lines, mark vertical lines one-fifth of the way across the square... and so on. For the eleventh set of lines, mark diagonal lines one-fifth of the way across. For the sixteenth set, mark diagonal lines which slope in the other direction.

[ add comment ] ( 56 views )   |  [ 0 trackbacks ]   |  permalink
Cited more often than the norm 
Justin at Daily Nous quotes the statistic that "82 per cent of articles published in humanities are not even cited once." Turning this around, only 18% are cited.

I was curious about how my own papers fared in this regard. Starting with data from Google Scholar and correcting some, 68% of my publications have been cited. One of the corrections was to dismiss articles which were only cited by me in another article. Counting self-citations, the rate jumps to 78%.

In a more self-serving mood, but the quality of my work is only one factor here.

Another factor is that all of my papers are readily available on-line. Once there's a draft worth sharing, I post it to my website. I update it with my final draft once it's accepted for publication, and I continue to make it available. The result is that people who are puttering around on a topic are likely to come across my work, and then they can cite me. This is certainly how forall x, my open-access logic textbook, has come to be cited 11 times. And I have some conference papers and working drafts which have been cited even though they've never been available anywhere but on my website.

In discussions of whether to post papers on-line or not, people underrate the advantages. People who notice my work because it's on-line almost never tell me about, but sometimes they do cite me.

[ add comment ] ( 39 views )   |  [ 0 trackbacks ]   |  permalink

| 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | Next> Last>>