Archive for November, 2008

Very brief Tricki update

November 28, 2008

December 18th. I suppose there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that I’m not after all in a position to give a date for the launch, or even the first phase of the launch, of the Tricki. This is because Alex and Olof still have things they need to sort out, some essential and some highly desirable. But that’s also implicitly the good news: that any delay is not due to our being too busy to work on the Tricki but rather to the fact that improvements to it are still being made. And while Alex and Olof sort out the things I have no idea about, I’m continuing to add material, with the result that by the time we do go public it will be possible to get a reasonable idea of what the structure of the site could be like. This will mean that instead of trying to describe that structure in abstract and easily misunderstood terms, I can say the much simpler, “Let’s try to continue what has already been started until it encompasses all of maths,” and others can say, “Well, that’s all very well for the things you’ve written about but it would never work for algebraic geometry,” and the discussion about how best to organize the site can start from a first (or zeroth perhaps) approximation rather than from nothing at all.

I don’t think the remaining problems or unfinished aspects will take all that long for Alex and Olof to deal with. If I turn out to be wrong about that, then I may extract one or two articles and turn them into blog posts.

December 14th. While this blog has been quiet, the Tricki has been rapidly growing — in fact, I’ve been a bit obsessed with it for the last week or so. It’s beginning to take shape, partly because I’ve put in a lot of links to nonexistent articles, just to give an idea of how it might eventually look. We’ll probably go live in two phases: one where it’s read-only, apart from a forum where people can make suggestions based on what they see. And then, if no major changes seem to be necessary — or if they do and we make them — we can open it up properly. I may soon be in a position to give dates for this, as Alex, Olof and I are meeting tomorrow.

Further update added December 7th. I can now say with complete confidence that the Tricki really is happening. I have uploaded quite a bit of content on to it (though of course it’s a minuscule amount compared with what I hope it will eventually contain) and am finding it a joy to use. There are still some aspects of the design that need tweaking: Alex, Olof and I will meet in a few days time to discuss these, and perhaps then we’ll come to a decision about when to go live. I don’t see a strong reason for waiting much longer, but there may be technical problems I don’t know about.

Further update added December 3rd. I am now in the process of adding content to the site. There’s quite a lot to do, but I’ve already moved a couple of sample articles over from this blog and written one or two pages of introduction to the site. I’ll add to this update from time to time, since now I should have a much clearer idea of when we will be up and running.

The original post. This is in answer to Random Student, who spotted that a site that “should be up and running within the next couple of weeks” of October 15th should be up and running. I’ve sort of half learnt my lesson, and will not give an estimate of when it will actually appear, so all I’m going to say here is that it’s quite a bit closer to appearing now than it was then, in the non-trivial sense that quite a bit of work that needed to be done to it has been done. Olof Sisask tells me that, possibly even in the next couple of days, it will be in a state where I can directly add content to it. At that point, he, Alex and I will be able to work on things like instructions to authors, a few more sample articles, and so on. On the negative side, I at least will be pretty busy for the next couple of weeks, so I don’t see myself doing everything I want to do until some time after that. But, like Random Student, I am impatient for the site to exist. And if you’re thinking you might contribute articles, there’s nothing to stop you writing them even now, and a lot to be said for a rapid initial growth of the site, so any time you suddenly realize that something you had thought was hard is not in fact hard, please write something down that will help others get there more quickly, and post it as soon as the site exists. (more…)

The possible merger of the LMS and the IMA

November 18, 2008

Discussions concerning a proposed merger between the London Mathematical Society and the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications are at a fairly advanced stage. Details can be found here. A series of meetings has taken place round the UK, and the project is taking on a feel of inevitability. I am still trying to work out what I think about it, but my natural instinct would be against it. At the very least, I hope that LMS members will not vote for it just because they assume that those who are calling for it and have put a great deal of work into it must be right. The purpose of this brief post is not to discuss the merits or otherwise of the idea, but just to draw attention to the fact that there are some who oppose it: their arguments should be carefully considered. If you want to consider them then you might like to look at a blog that has been started by some LMS council members, where some of these arguments are set out. Even if you are not a member of the LMS, comments would be welcome. That is particularly true if you have relevant experience of other mathematical societies.