Thursday, October 29, 2009

Trouble at n-category cafe

One of the blogs I look at rather regularly is n-category cafe. A recent post Math: Folk Wisdom in an Electronic Age raises questions about the future of mathematical discussion on the web.

There seems to have developed contrasting opinions among the presenters of the blog. In brief, one group holds that blogs should be entertaining as well as informative. The other group has more serious intentions.

I think there is a place for entertaining blogs which at the same time inform. However there should be a clear separation between this level of discussion and precise scientific papers.

The danger from the entertainers' direction is that papers try to be entertaining and lose precision.

The danger from the serious bloggers is that serious-sounding blogs take the place of papers, while being pretentious but not precise.

A paper or a book is a concentrated form of knowledge which cannot be replaced by conversations. A paper or a book can be helped by the addition of informal discussion.



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