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• CommentRowNumber1.
• CommentAuthorzskoda
• CommentTimeFeb 12th 2021
• (edited Feb 12th 2021)

Dear $n$Lab members. This last year we were all much moved to online seminars in the past year and all wish more of live seminars in future than in past year.

Having said that I think that having an institution of an official online seminar within $n$Lab community and having its occasional instantiation may have some value.

Some of the prominent contributors of $n$Lab have no university affiliation (e.g. Todd) or permanent affiliation and sometimes they may need a support of our community to make some invitation to other people to do a seminar offer attractive to the invited and also supported by some attendance/received within the $n$Lab community, and sometimes we can have our internal topics of interest discussed on zoom or alike rather than with lengthy discussions (of the subject, not the technical issues, I meant) in the forum and so on. In perspective, we can record some of the lectures for youtube or other repository, while keeping informal the others.

I am not talking about some very regular activity, we all are busy anyway, but it just occured to me that having the institution of such seminar (and with a time, tradition) may be beneficial long term and in some special occasions. It may also promote $n$Lab to other mathematicians.

I am aware that some of the past ideas, including the blog part of the $n$Lab did not take off, I am not sure how natural is this idea to this community.

Any thoughts ?

• CommentRowNumber2.
• CommentAuthorDavid_Corfield
• CommentTimeFeb 14th 2021

We seem at the moment to have lost some of the buzz of the old days around here. Whether that’s just the way of things, people pursue their own avenues, find new vehicles like Zulip, or whatever, I don’t know.

• CommentRowNumber3.
• CommentAuthorRichard Williamson
• CommentTimeFeb 14th 2021
• (edited Feb 14th 2021)

I would say the nLab and nForum have just evolved, not necessarily in a better or worse way. As I mentioned in a thread at the beginning of the year, I see a very positive diversification of authors, many young. The nForum is perhaps typically used with a more focused/narrow scope these days, as more direct support for the nLab, but there are still wider discussions now and then; I for one welcome these :-).

A real time n-seminar wouldn’t be something for me for practical reasons, but a non-real time version, say a thread in which someone presents something and then it is discussed, would be of interest.

• CommentRowNumber4.
• CommentAuthorMike Shulman
• CommentTimeFeb 14th 2021

I had an idea like this a while ago, pre-pandemic even, but never pursued it. I think it’s a neat idea, and would be happy to participate if someone else wants to organize it. I bet there are plenty of people who don’t hang out at the forum regularly but would still be interested in attending an n-Seminar.

(BTW, although for a long time Todd had no university affiliation, as of a couple of years ago he is back in academia.)

• CommentRowNumber5.
• CommentAuthorDavid_Corfield
• CommentTimeFeb 15th 2021

Could there be a more novel format than just another zoom talk series? More interactive.

• CommentRowNumber6.
• CommentAuthorTodd_Trimble
• CommentTimeFeb 15th 2021

Yes, I am at Western Connecticut State University.

• CommentRowNumber7.
• CommentAuthorzskoda
• CommentTimeFeb 16th 2021

Thanks for some comments; I might take the organizational role if needed and when more ideas formalize.

5: yes, we may think of something, though even if not I would disagree about the phrase “just another zoom talk series” as having a function of this community interests is from our perspective not “just another one”. For example, I do not see which another zoom series would help settle some of the current issues when we do something here. Which format ideas do you have in mind, David ? (I could think of some, but maybe you have specific ideas)

Western Connecticut State

Great news to hear! Sorry I did not notice before.

have just evolved, not necessarily in a better or worse way

I agree, advances coming with Richard’s software improvements and the massive as never young math population being literate in higher category theory (in sharp contrast to 2009 or so) which – by statistical laws – appears here more and more often, all together it has many sides which are more progress than retreat. On the other hand, indeed it has a bit less of a community feeling than 10 years ago.

I think one of the big historical blows was when codecogs support for xymatrix stopped working, what discouraged many who liked to draw diagrams and were not as skillful as Urs in improvising with what was available. This also broke many cycles including Joyals catlab. Now we have a nice support for sourcecode-written diagrams including TikZ thanks to Richard, but somehow some of people who left probably do not know; catlab is locked for edit and so on. I personally retreated much to my own labs (private and public) and also spend more time teaching (and had a year totally out of science, betting on a blockchain collaboration which eventually became unaccceptable to me and I left).

• CommentRowNumber8.
• CommentAuthorMike Shulman
• CommentTimeFeb 16th 2021

I think one of the big historical blows was when codecogs support for xymatrix stopped working

If so, then perhaps quiver support will also help reinvigorate things.

1. This also broke many cycles including Joyals catlab…. catlab is locked for edit and so on

Just to mention that Dmitri Pavlov recently fixed all diagrams on the CatLab, and I tidied up a few other broken things. Thus it should be in reasonable shape now. Let us know if you find anything broken and it can be fixed.

• CommentRowNumber10.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeFeb 17th 2021

Just to recall that André Joyal never interacted with the $n$Lab (see here), while for instance Xiao-Gang Wen (comparable ballpark of awe-by-prominence, if that’s what it takes) made a real effort (see here) before being chased away by, let’s say, the buzz of the old days. (He is still waiting for a reaction here ;-)

My suggestion: good practice for attracting and sustaining good $n$Lab activity is to focus on:

1. interesting and substantial contributions;

2. high signal-to-noise ratio in discussions;

3. no bullying.

• CommentRowNumber11.
• CommentAuthorAlec Rhea
• CommentTimeFeb 17th 2021
• (edited Feb 17th 2021)

I would definitely be interested in attending nLab seminars.

• CommentRowNumber12.
• CommentAuthorDavid_Corfield
• CommentTimeFeb 17th 2021
• (edited Feb 17th 2021)

$4$. Charitable engagement with other people’s conceptions.

By ’buzz’ I clearly didn’t mean that, but people showing genuine interest in each other’s ideas and engaging in collaborative conversations. I’m just saying that this has dwindled.

• CommentRowNumber13.
• CommentAuthorPaoloPerrone
• CommentTimeFeb 17th 2021

I would love to have an “nLab seminar”, both as a member of the audience, or as “workforce”! I also really like the idea of making the event more interactive than a talk over Zoom: that’s the “lab” part! Any ideas on that front?

• CommentRowNumber14.
• CommentAuthorzskoda
• CommentTimeFeb 17th 2021
• (edited Feb 17th 2021)

Thank you again for thoughtful insight.

Just to recall that André Joyal never interacted with the $n$Lab

I think that it is beneficial to be inclusive to various styles/channels of contribution. I have seen Catlab as a stimulating and integral part of the effort till it became dormant.

André has excused himself early on that he feels more comfortable writing more self-contained definition-theorem-lemma-proof style of exposition of foundations of categorical mathematics, the self-contained complete style which is complementary to the main lab. We used to crosslink to some of those pages (especially those on factorization systems and alike) and reuse some of the material there in early days. He also discussed a bit in other communication channels we had at the time. He also offered in an early discussion to teach somebody (as his assistant) who would help his pages grow. I think it was stimulating, for me at least, to have $n$Lab as a rich set of resources, cafe and catlab included and being able to cut and paste and crosslink within the same software and finally to be comfortable that things which may be missing in $n$Lab are written somewhere near by.

When John Baez started Azimuth I was thinking of it as a compatible platform (and, partly, content) though not on the same server, where some of the same people sporadically contributed. However (unlike their forum part) the Azimuthwiki contributions died out in few years to the extend that, triggered by some 2020 spam, the (Azimuth)wiki edit button has been disabled there since December.

P.S, I see the stack project as a big project analogue of Catlab, but it offers more specialized, 1-categorical and more narrow vista than the idea behind the catlab was. My understanding was also that catlab was to offer a compact exposition of modern categorical math rather than massive works as the Lurie’s magnus opus. I doubt that many people have clear enough general insights to find the shortcuts to accomplish this goal.