Benjamin Dickman (@benjamindickman)
In this week’s GMD newsletter, I want to focus on the ways in which ideas are sourced (or not sourced). This does mean, in particular, that I have omitted material around new mathematical progress, a conference/conversation on professional norms in mathematics, and more.
Two inspirational tweets to kick it off: the first from @LBMathematician [in her quote-retweet of @mathedmatters] and the second from @ChristieNold:
Notice in the first image the concerns by generators of original ideas, especially in a case for which one’s livelihood (e.g., earning tenure as a professor) can be a function of proper attribution, and the valid concern expressed in the second tweet around conveying one’s newfound understanding along with those who supported it along the way.
I recently came across an @edutopia article (via Jerry Becker’s listserv) about the “Talk Moves” used at a particular school in Portland, ME. But, the article attributes various Talk Moves to this school – even though they appear in the math education literature! In fact, the first four Talk Moves named in the @edutopia document are precisely the first four from the Chapin et al work below:
Not cool, @edutopia (1.12 million followers!).
I noticed another attribution issue from @fermatslibrary (281 thousand followers!) for whom this is not the first time that work has been tweeted without attribution. In fact, that same link shows another instance in which a reddit user’s original work was tweeted without credit being given.
While these large-follower-accounts are not doing their due diligence in sourcing the content that they are tweeting out to a hundred thousand+ or a million+ people, there are a lot of great examples of proper attribution that came across my timeline recently.
So: To pivot positively, I’d like to highlight some of the quality instances of good sourcing practices in action. First, though, even when attribution and quoting go generally well, there can be another problem with journalistic practices: Picking the title of an article. For example, check out Kevin Buzzard’s response to a Vice article in which he was quoted.
Contrast the bad sourcing from @edutopia and @fermatslibrary with the @ReadPRIMUS account [managed by BK] in which attribution is provided even when the source has no recollection of their helpful remark!
Continuing with the proper sourcing theme: In linking to a NYT piece on mathematicians’ chalkboards, @nattyover credits the photographer and the writer and the person who brought the piece to her attention [the “h/t” abbreviation stands for “hat tip”].
I added links to a few more pieces about chalk, which includes three items by @MBarany.
Plus, an interesting comment about chalkboard handwriting from @katemath:
Among the many items tagged #NCTMBoston19 is the following from @beRealcoach. As to sourcing: Note that the tweet includes an attribution to the presenter, @NicoleBridge1, and that the slide includes an attribution to the writer, Zaretta Hammond.
@alittlestats links to a fascinating article about graphing calculators and their business model and cc’s @Desmos [see the article!] and includes another “h/t” [hat tip] to shout out @MathDoris.
Sam Shah writes a wonderfully reflective blog post in which he cc’s three people [spoiler: one of them is me due to my tweet here] and generously mentions the three of us at the start of the post, too.
Relatedly, @AlexPHoover posted about an Out List + Ally List from Spectra and credits @mikeahill.
Besides Ally Week, we have also been in Hispanic Heritage Month. Check out the #Lathisms hashtag, and the link provided by @zdearaujo here:
Finally, I was excited to read about David Eppstein’s efforts around wikipages for women in mathematics. I saw it in a tweet from @thegautamkamath; check out the link for more!
I hope those who have read this far enjoy the sourcing and sources in this week’s newsletter; as always, I will be grateful to anyone who wishes to notify me about other work that should be highlighted and/or amplified in and beyond math education communities. Hit my DMs, tag me, send me an email; whatever works!
Speaking of mathematical errors, I need to get one off of my chest: In the one REU math paper I contributed to there is a mistake in Remark 2.4. The constants should both be 1 [not both zero, which is what our paper says] if phi has good reduction [whatever that means]. This doesn’t affect correctness and is more of a “typo” than a “deep theoretical error.” But, it is not hard to imagine how small errors can ramify.
To see that this must be an error, one can note that cv and Cv are defined [see below] as being the maximum among various quantities that always include 1; of course, there is no way that 0 will be the max in a set that also contains 1. Logarithms are then applied to each, so it will be better not to be taking log(0)!
(Phew; I feel better already.)