I started blogging a little over 3 years ago, as something of an experiment. Lance had given up blogging, and I had been a reasonably frequent and opinionated commenter on his blog, enough so that people often asked when I would start my own. I hadn't planned on it, but Lance's stepping down (which, later, turned out to be temporary) felt like it had left a hole. I hoped that I might provide, in my own way, a community forum for discussing issues, and a connection point for the areas I'm interested in -- algorithms (or theory more broadly), networking, and information theory.
In the end I'm not sure how well I achieved the various goals. I don't feel this blog has ever become a strong authority (or hub, in Kleinberg's language) in the way that I might have liked. Commenting has been sparse with infrequent spikes; longer more detailed discussions seem rare. Perhaps this is just hard to do -- people have, on the whole, better things to do with their time. Or perhaps (probably?) it represents flaws in my posts. Certainly one wish I think I had going in is that my posts would be more technical, but technical posts take a great deal of time, and are, quite frankly, hard. I'm ever-impressed by what Dick Lipton is doing, in terms of technical depth, at his blog; it's a wonder to me.
On the other hand, I'm amazed and pleased to find that people read this blog, and have enjoyed the "behind-the-scenes" look at life and work as a professor. Everywhere I've gone in the last few years, there are people who tell me they've been reading it. I've never implemented tools to tell the size of my readership, but anecdotally it must be larger than I think. (The joy of low expectations.) It's opened the doors to lots of interesting discussions about research, the state of computer science, what being a professor is like, and a whole range of various things. And from what I can tell, it has given the different communities I was targeting a better idea of what each of them is like, in terms of culture and process. That perhaps hasn't always been a good thing, but overall I'll view it as a success.
I didn't realize when I began how much blogging would raise my "visibility", but that seems to have been a pleasant side effect. I'll admit, I'm glad to have been able to take advantage of that. Perhaps I'll be invited to give fewer talks now that I'm giving up the blog. Or fewer PCs. Maybe at this point that's not all bad. Or maybe stopping will force me to explore other positive ways of raising my visibility, perhaps by writing another book.
Overall, I've had a great deal of fun blogging, and that alone has made it worthwhile. Over the last several months, however, I've found blogging less enjoyable. Some of that must just be fatigue; I suppose I've been running out of things to write, making writing harder. But also there have been fewer comments, and -- as discussed in this post over at the Complexity blog -- there has been much more of an unpleasant tone in (anonymous) comments (across many blogs) of late. It's a sign for me that, as fun as this all has been, it's time for me to stop. My new position has provided a good excuse, but I probably would have stopped anyway.
Perhaps blogging has just been the latest Internet fad -- perhaps our social networks can't support the number and diversity of blogs that we have, and our attention is now moving elsewhere. (Like, back to work.) I'd like to think not. I think the latest P=NP? phenomenon is an excellent demonstration of the potential power and importance of blogs. (Again, Dick Lipton's blog was a wonder.) I hope that all the bloggers we have in our community keep going, that new bloggers come into the picture, and that we use blogging -- or whatever new tools come along -- to enhance communication within and across our communities. As an example, I've spent some time the past few days looking around at the CS Theory StackExchange Q and A site, prompted by Suresh's posts. I'm not quite sure what to make of it yet, but it's been fun to explore and seems to have interesting potential.
Thanks to all of you who have been reading, and especially to those of you who have been taking the time to provide thoughtful comments. I wouldn't have continued for as long as I did without you. I've enjoyed this experiment, and I'm gratified to think that some of you have enjoyed it to. I'm sure I'll still be around, offering my opinion at other places. And I hope when you see me around (physically), even though I'm not blogging, you'll consider trying to strike up a conversation with me; I'm sure we can find things to talk about, and, without the blog, I'll be missing this type of conversation.