Alex Alemi's Blog


Alexander A. Alemi.

We all stand on the shoulders of giants.

The thing that separates humans from other animals is the degree to which we can share knowledge with one another. As such, I feel as though we have some duty to our fellow humans to share the knowledge we've accumulated. More than ever before, everyone has at their disposal the tools required to share their knowledge with anyone essentially anywhere else on earth.

I feel guilty for not participating myself.

Sure I write scientific papers, but if we're being honest, most scientific papers have rather small audiences. If we're being even more honest, unfortunately, it seems as though most scientific papers these days are not really meant to be read. It doesn't feel as though they go out of their way to make themselves understood. I'm sure there is some selection bias but I feel as though when I read older papers they feel a lot more like a conversation with the author. I feel as though the best papers feel as though they are a chat with the author(s) and they are essentially helping you stand on their shoulders. They've spent a good amount of time and energy thinking about some particular thing and are attempting to share that thought with you so that you don't have to go through the same arduous process.

I feel as though this is a perfect opportunity to bring back blogging and in particular academic blogs. For some reason, it becomes clear when you're writing a blog post that it's meant to be read. Many academic blogs take on a much more conversational tone and focus a lot more on explaining themselves and the ideas they are covering in simple to understand terms. Granted, a lot of the best information these days comes in the form of videos, but not everyone has the skills, time, or energy to produce such amazing video content. The barrier to entry is a lot lower for blogging.

Finally, it's cliche but we all know that the best way to learn is through teaching. Taking the time to try to explain a new concept you're struggling with can really help solidify it in your own mind. I've found that many of the things I've learned best were things I worked through for previous blog posts of mine.

I want to start blogging again. I've set up this small site to do that. It's remarkable how easy it is these days. This site is being hosted on GitHub Pages which gives free space for anyone to start hosting their own static content. Using systems like Jekyll the actual practice of making the website can be quite simple these days. In my case I wrote some custom python scripts to convert my Markdown posts to html. This blog itself lives in its own github repo. MathJax allows for beautiful $\LaTeX$ math rendering. For discussions or comments, I'll try out giscus which is a nifty system enabling comments through github discussions. People can also reach out on twitter. I also think it's important to support rss which I've done here.