Wednesday, August 18, 2010


JSH: Usenet's world spanning reality

To me it's a good working hypothesis to strongly suggest that all those years of posting on Usenet, mostly in math newsgroups, have a good bit to do with some of the oddities of a peculiar popularity(?) that I now have, where I noted yesterday that so far THIS YEAR I have hits to my math blog according to Google Analytics from 94 countries/territories as Google puts it. Along with that information which people might doubt, most can do various web searches to get their own sense of it, like on: mymath

That Usenet still has a role to play is interesting in and of itself, as for years now in readings I've done I've repeatedly seen it considered to be a dark corner of the Information Superhighway whose time had long passed. And often the newsgroups seem to be just a hopeless jumble of bizarre conversations—many nonsensical—juxtaposed with ads, and various other spam which can be very bizarre.

But people CAN cut through the noise. I do.

In my case I can at times oddly enough sort of dominate the newsgroup enough to get howls of complaints from posters, posting, to decry all the attention around MY posting, which always strikes me as rather odd…

So how was it done? That is the question which is intriguing me more and more and a lot probably has to do with Google Groups, and the indexing by search engines, which means that Usenet can get pulled onto the Internet, but selectively. Very selectively.

But the exact mechanisms do puzzle me, though I would think that the worldwide nature of Usenet itself, and the ability to push out information through posting, allows the growth of familiarity that is necessary to become in any way "established" in just about any social arena, while intriguingly, the negatives pushed out against me, seem to have made my ideas the real stars here—not me!!!

My own position, not surprisingly, is that my ideas are valuable, so the world is picking up on them regardless of what people might say on Usenet against them. While even those who might disagree, must be somewhat taken aback if they do a search like: algebraic integers vs complex numbers

Or: binary quadratic Diophantine equations

Today with hits from so many countries to my math blog I no longer feel much of a compulsion to get published through traditional means—though I do try at times but now only send to the Annals of Mathematics which has a paper currently under review—as why bother?

Search results on my ideas now routinely eclipse those of established mathematicians, or even entire institutions with one of my favorite topics being the ongoing competition of my definition of mathematical proof with the Wikipedia.

THE Wikipedia. Of course the Wikipedia has a LOT more information than just its page on mathematical proof, but the ability of users around the world to do a simple search and see my ideas in direct competition with it, still floors me:

Search: definition of mathematical proof

That Usenet and the Internet are about the new, and that the new always brings in surprises doesn't quite seem fulfilling just yet, though it is odd to possibly be a part of history in this way, where a transitioning world may move away from mathematical journals and the processes that have been in place for generations.

After all, if when people do a search on binary quadratic Diophantine equations, and one of the top links is mine, it stands to reason that the simple reality of that availability is a potency far greater than that of researchers who just have a journal article, somewhere, out there.

That my work now outshines that of mathematical professors all over the world—at least by web searches—is a reality so disturbing to some that posters have routinely made posts in reply when I bring this subject up--attacking the value of Google searches themselves.

So back to Usenet, what lessons may there be for others who are trying to get their ideas known in our possibly wacky world, where a "crank" or "crackpot" can beat top ranked math professors, mathematical journals, and entire organizations like the Wikipedia in search results?
  1. Argue effectively, argue honestly, and for God's sake—argue!!!

    I call it the battle of ideas. If no one is arguing with you about your ideas, then in my opinion, you're not getting anywhere. But personal attacks don't seem to do much. I've tried them. And I've been on the receiving end of quite a few! Notice that didn't stop me from getting 94 "countries/territories" so far this year. The personal attacks my have hurt my personal fame, but my ideas don't appear to have been impacted at all as their continued dominance is just a web search away at any given moment to be seen.

  2. Try to stay away from personal attacks!

    With all of the above said, it IS a rather stunning reality that my personal fame level is clearly a trickle compared to the apparent domination of some of my ideas. A search on my name in Google still brings up a link to, where I'm ripped on as a crank. Clearly then my story is not an unequivocal success at this point! As presumably most would prefer not just that their ideas dominate, but that they themselves get some popularity as well.

  3. Practice. Practice. Practice.

    The situation I have today was over a decade in the making and I also had the luck of coming in with a transition in the world, as the web takes over in so many ways, and so much transformation is occurring. But also for years I've had the idea firmly in mind that practice is an essential part of any strategy that is meant to be successful in the long-run.
Through years of posting I have a practiced sense of how to do it. Feel confident doing it, and developed a personal style so distinctive that when posters try to imitate it, they are often immediately called out as frauds. That takes a lot of practice and a lot of thinking of writing as an art. Communication isn't easy. Whether you hate my style or not, the reality is that my writing has driven quite a bit of activity over the years, and that cannot happen without working for it.

After all, today grabbing your attention is something lots of people are trying to do ALL THE TIME. If it were easy, everybody would get more than just the supposed 15 minutes of fame. But you see, not everybody CAN get a lot of attention as then I guess all people would be doing would be staring at each other as everybody caught everybody else's attention and then what could actually get done?

Reality is a few people grab attention because it's hard to do, and should be hard. Otherwise, how could we possibly get any work done?

Usenet can be your ticket to worldwide attention for your ideas. But it is your ideas first, last, and foremost. They can take you on electronic wings around the world, so there I will end it, as you still have to THINK.

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