Thursday, June 25, 2009

Why I blog

I have been regular at maintaining the blog for the past month or so. My feelings have been mixed so far. On the one hand, it is an effort to keep up the writing effort day after day. One of my goals is to make sure that the blog remains fresh for future readers. And the freshness of the blog is to totally a function of keeping up the effort of adding new and interesting material. With my day job and with the challenges of keeping up with the ever growing demands of our 5-month old, writing is always not easy.

But being a glass-half-full kind of guy, what has this exercise brought me?

For starters, it has got me to start writing again. I am a firm believer that writing is a great way of organizing your thoughts and making them more logical and structured. And it is a habit that I had at one time, lost at some point and am keen on regaining again. Communication is an important skill in today's world. With all the clutter, media generated noise, terabytes of data and messages flowing back and forth, the Internet driven distractions, it is important to cut through the clutter and reach out powerfully with one's words to make a difference. Gandhi had a difficult enough time getting his word out to millions of his countrymen and getting them united against the British. But that was close to a century back. Imagine Obama's difficulty in getting his thoughts out to people in today's hyper-information age. And the way you get better at communication is by keeping at it through weekdays and weekends, through work deadlines and daughter's shrieks of excitement. Hopefully, I am getting better at this stuff.

The other big positive for me is that I am beginning to learn a lot more and at a much faster pace on my professional interest, math models and statistical inference. As Hal Varian, chief economist at Google has famously remarked, the statistician job is going to be the sexy job for the next ten years. And this field is evolving so rapidly that it is extremely critical to keep updating one's knowledge and skills and remaining ahead of the curve. In order for me to provide a stream of meaningful material for the audience of this blog, I have had to spend a good amount of my time reading and updating my own knowledge base. Just last morning, I managed to read an interesting article on multi-level modeling. This took me to a web-site dedicated to multi-level modeling at the University of Bristol. And the lecture notes in turn made me aware of some of the ways I could tackle some ticklish problems at work. (Look at this really cool lecture. It is a video link and needs Internet Explorer as the browser.) I have become much more aware of the latest problems and solution kits out there in the last month, than what I learnt in the past several years. A huge plus for me.

So all-in-all, I am hoping to learn something out of all this and make at least a fractional improvement to what I want to add to the world. And hopefully keep my audience engaged and interested in the stuff I write. My writings are clearly not meant for the masses, I don't have any such hopes! The people who are likely to like my writing are going to be similar to me: numbers-obsessed, math-loving and tech savvy geeks. And if I can make a fraction of a difference to my readers as this exercise is making for me, I will be a happy blogger.

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