The Spirit of TunedIT
May 20, 2010 Leave a comment
Some time ago I spoke to a friend of mine, Paweł Szczęsny from the Polish Academy of Sciences – a biologist, a visionary of Open Science and a pioneer of scientific blogging. When I mentioned about our plans to start a blog for TunedIT, Paweł, after giving it a serious thought, had come up with the following advice: „Remember one thing: do not write about yourself. If someone writes about oneself, the blog becomes terribly boring. Only if you keep writing about something different, it has a chance to be interesting”.
At first, this tip of advice seemed illogical to me – what’s the point in opening a blog related to the web portal TunedIT, if we are to write about something totally different? All in all, this is so natural: if a new functionality comes up on TunedIT, we will mention it in the blog: „Today a new functionality has been released, which enables … it helps in … you can use it like this …” and so on. If there’s going to be a new competition: „Today we’re launching a new competition … the task is to …” Isn’t it the way you do it? Each of us could instantly list a long series of blogs where similar posts can be encountered. Don’t they sound so familiar, so natural, so conventional, so … banal? Hm, wait a moment. Banal? Actually, … Have I read many blogs like that? Sure! A lot! How many of them have I read further than to the second sentence of the paragraph? I can’t recall any… So maybe writing about yourself is not the best choice for your blog, in fact? But if not, what else then makes it tick?
This thought was racking my brains for a while and finally one day I felt enlightened. I recalled how many times I faced problems while preparing texts for TunedIT website – for the Home, About Us, Docs pages and others. Seemingly obvious, but how can you sum up the philosophy of this project in just a few sentences? How to describe all the motives and aims, problems and their solutions? How to describe the story which had begun not a year before, when TunedIT was publicly released, nor two years before, when the work on the prototype had begun, but the story which had been going on for ten years, through a series of inspiring events and ideas – like the ECML/PKDD 2007 conference, where I learned about Joaquin Vanschoren’s Experiment Databases for Machine Learning, the first serious attempt to put experimental results of data mining in order. Or like the Netflix Prize contest in which I participated for some period of time and which became a source of ideas for TunedIT Challenges.
So, the main difficulty is not how to describe TunedIT, but how to describe the Spirit of TunedIT! How to describe all those events, remarks, ideas, conversations which stimulate TunedIT development and point it in the right direction, but which don’t have to be a part of it and whose richness can’t be expressed in brief statements on the Home page. But if not on Home, then where? … Maybe in a blog? But stop, we can’t write about ourselves in the blog, right? Very well! We’re not going to speak about ourselves, about TunedIT. We’ll write about the Spirit of TunedIT!
So yes, TunedIT has a blog now. We’ll do our best not to say a word about TunedIT. Instead, we’ll let the Spirit of TunedIT – our ghostwriter – speak, in a hope that the intimate story of the project and the rich colorful context in which it develops will be far more interesting to you than technical specification of our software. We’ll also invite authors from outside of TunedIT – scientists, programmers, data mining specialists – who will shed light on the meanders of statistical data analysis and reveal the secrets of designing intelligent algorithms able to extract useful knowledge from a sea of meaningless zeros and ones.
Anyway, we won’t let you get bored. Take it for granted.
— Ten artykuł po polsku, in Polish: Duch TunedIT —