Saturday, March 26, 2005

The Inagural Post

About once every six months, I'll spend a few hours browsing the Internet of old via the Wayback Machine. Seeing how some of the really big sites have evolved gives you a really neat feeling of history happening in real time- like when you would watch those National Geographic slow-frame videos of a flower or a beehive evolving over months and years, all in a few seconds.

More than anything else, I marvel at how many of those people had no idea what they were starting. You can't blame them, obviously- there are those charts that show the power-law distribution of blog readership, for instance. (Note that I am helping to perpetuate that distribution by linking to Jason Kottke's blog. Since he's started blogging full-time, I figure it's the least I can do to help a brother earn a living.) Most things that start small, stay small. I haven't done an analysis of why this distribution arises in practice, but there are some people who have some very interesting ideas.

Anyways, I wanted to kick off this blog with some meta-thoughts on the history and practice of, well, kicking things off. Starting a blog looks (and I guess now, feels) alot like a first date, or meeting a friend of a friend- which is to say, often awkward and unintentionally amusing. I find that these experiences are helped if you have some sort of ideology (or better yet, a life-changing experience, like visiting Budapest) to discuss and get you through the occasional lulls in conversation. This blog will fill those lulls with thoughts on the current state of software for the quantitatively inclined- particularly statistical packages like SAS and R, since I'm a statistical software developer- but including Matlab, Mathematica, and whatever other obscure package that I come across. Like many blogs, this will no doubt include several rants, since I find all of these packages lacking in some way or another, and critiquing their shortcomings is much more fun than creating something of my own.

In between the rants, you'll find my thoughts on the business of software, politics and the state of the nation, what I've been reading and listening to lately, and the fortunes of my beloved Duke Blue Devils (who took a beating at the hands of Michigan State last night that I will spend several weeks recovering from.) I hope you enjoy and that you'll come back to visit often.


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Good luck with your blog. May Issue 1, Volume I go down as a literary masterpiece.

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