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1. I've started a "discovery" page as a place to do original research on the ways of figuring things out in mathematics. I will start by rewriting and sharing a systematic survey that I have done: https://groups.google.com/d/msg/mathfuture/50pk00XZCLQ/HnQjrun8ej8J "A system of deep structure in solving math problems".
• CommentRowNumber2.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeApr 20th 2016

Andrius, hold it for a moment. The entries that you have created do not fit the kind of material that the $n$Lab is meant for.

For newcomers to the $n$Lab, the rule of thumb is to first hang around a bit to see what the regulars do, start by making some little edits in existing entries, and eventually, when you get the hang of it, go for creating new entries.

2. Urs, Thank you for explaining.

My confusion resulted from what I read on the following pages:
* "Home page": "The purpose of the nnLab is to provide a public place where people can make notes about stuff. The purpose is not to make polished expositions of material; that is a happy by-product."
* "What is ... the nLab": "Show the big picture."
* "what to contribute": "original research: The nnLab is expressly meant to be a tool for researchers to make notes they find relevant for their work. This means that if you have an original insight and feel like recording it in context, you are welcome to do so on the nnLab."

I couldn't find any sample pages of original research, however.

I hoped that at least the ideas I have developed here might be possibly relevant to somebody: https://groups.google.com/d/msg/mathfuture/50pk00XZCLQ/HnQjrun8ej8J

In general, I am looking for a forum where I can openly work on my thoughts in the big picture in Math. Please, I'm very grateful if you can recommend such a forum.

Without such a forum for developing "big picture" views of math, it is very strange how anybody could try to propose a unifying framework. The questions that I listed on the "big picture" page all seem relevant. I'm interested to learn more about category theory, and as a start, I have a Ph.D. in Math.

I'm glad for you that you have found each other. Thank you for your feedback.
• CommentRowNumber4.
• CommentAuthorMike Shulman
• CommentTimeApr 20th 2016

In general, I am looking for a forum where I can openly work on my thoughts in the big picture in Math. Please, I’m very grateful if you can recommend such a forum.

As was suggested in another thread, you would probably do best to start your own public blog or wiki. There are plenty of sites that will provide free hosting for blogs and wikis.

• CommentRowNumber5.
• CommentAuthorDavidRoberts
• CommentTimeApr 20th 2016
• (edited Apr 20th 2016)

The original research that has been done here fits in so neatly with the rest of the material, unless you are familiar with a topic it can be almost impossible to tell. And, ideally, this is how it goes.

Here ’stuff’ doesn’t mean literally anything. It needs to roughly fit with the raison d’être of the nLab, which is viewing existing maths through the lens of category theory when possible, or else how one can inform one or other by their interaction. The philosophy pages here, for instance, are largely populated by topics or references that are relevant to development of categorical viewpoint of logic in the broad sense.

3. Mike, David,

Thank you. Yes, I have led a public online laboratory, Minciu Sodas, from 1998 to 2010 with hundreds of participants. So I do work at my own wiki. On my own philosophy, I work alone. But where it intersects with math, physics or other subjects, it would be meaningful to participate in forums where I could learn those subjects as I interact with them, and other people might be interested in my own ideas, too, perhaps.

David, I would think that category theory is or will be especially successful whenever it yields new, "nonexisting" maths. I created a few pages for investigating such areas where there is much opportunity for inspirational discoveries in math. Working openly on such areas at nlab would almost certainly lead to connections with category theory.

One example would be an "algebra of perspectives". For example, a lost child is smart if they realize that they are the child and not the parent, and so they should not look for their parent, but rather go where their parent might find them. This kind of thinking involves "the child's view of the parent's view of the child's view of the parent's view of the child's view". That is quite possibly something that could be modeled with category theory.

What is telling for me is that none of the comments I have received had anything to do with the importance of the topics of my pages (except that they were apparently too important) nor with their content (if anything should be changed) nor even with their style (how to improve it). But the comments were "ad hominem", directed at me for who I personally am. It's hard for me to imagine how I might have behaved differently. I wrote a few pages and came here for feedback.

In as much as the nlab seeks to be the principal online community for category research, it reflects on category theorists as a whole, as well as what category theory is intended to be good for. That is why I interact, because I don't yet know how it will turn out. But now I suppose I know. Thank you for that.
4. Just another parting thought, perhaps. Every test is not only a test of the test taker. It is also a test of the test giver. Is the test the right test? That might perhaps be a deep idea in category theory. You're welcome.
• CommentRowNumber8.
• CommentAuthorTodd_Trimble
• CommentTimeApr 20th 2016

My confusion resulted from what I read on the following pages: * “Home page”: “The purpose of the nnLab is to provide a public place where people can make notes about stuff. The purpose is not to make polished expositions of material; that is a happy by-product.” * “What is … the nLab”: “Show the big picture.” * “what to contribute”: “original research: The nnLab is expressly meant to be a tool for researchers to make notes they find relevant for their work. This means that if you have an original insight and feel like recording it in context, you are welcome to do so on the nnLab.”

I can see why that might be confusing. It correctly reflects the intention, but the intention first has to be read correctly (not unlike the example of the smart child who divines the mind of the parent first before acting, rather than acting independently without consideration).

But the comments were “ad hominem”, directed at me for who I personally am.

I missed that entirely.

• CommentRowNumber9.
• CommentAuthorfastlane69
• CommentTimeApr 20th 2016
• (edited Apr 20th 2016)

But the comments were “ad hominem”, directed at me for who I personally am

It’s not ad hominem to say that your contributions lack a n-POV and thus are not a good fit for this site IMO.

This means that if you have an original insight and feel like recording it in context, you are welcome to do so on the nnLab.”

Herein lay the crux of the matter IMO: your insights are neither original nor in-context.

You listed several questions but provided zero original insight into how n-POV can help. Not only is “listing questions” not the same as “doing research”, but the fact that those questions “may” be answered by CT is irrelevant; until you DO answer some of those questions with CT, IMO, those questions are not n-POV and thus not a good fit for the n-Lab.

Citing “a kid views their parents” etc is a fine start… but only a start! Take that model, develop it, show how it is natural and doesn’t depend on the choice of child or parent, show how it is universal and it applies to all familial relationships, and then show what the functors are between parent, childs, and other families… now you’re n-POVing hardcore!!!! But merely talk about this and than and not take it to its natural and universal n-conclusion? That’s just verbal masturbation IMO.

(disclaimer: I am a no nothing unaffiliated with n-Lab; IMO should be taken as that)

• CommentRowNumber10.
• CommentAuthorTodd_Trimble
• CommentTimeApr 20th 2016

Best is just to follows Urs’s advice, in the exact order he gave:

For newcomers to the nnLab, the rule of thumb is to first hang around a bit to see what the regulars do, start by making some little edits in existing entries, and eventually, when you get the hang of it, go for creating new entries.

Mostly what we do here is straight mathematics; Urs is the chief representative of mathematical physics. Forays into other more speculative areas such as categorical structural approaches to sociology and child/family development, psychology and human intelligence, etc., is probably a long ways off and I think generally we’d be much more tentative about including such material here, although everything is looked at on a case by case basis.

There is a lot of potential for penetrations of nPOV’s into other areas; you can see some examples being worked on by the young people currently working with John Baez on e.g. chemical reactions, electronic networks, phylogenetic trees, etc. But as you can see if you follow these developments, these projects are years in the making and they entail serious careful scientific work. And those are areas which already closer to the so-called “hard sciences” – “softer” areas such as sociology or psychology or studies of human intelligence, aesthetics, etc. would be even more taxing to mix seriously and meaningfully with category theory, I would think. (Music would be easier I think because it has a strongly formal component.)

• CommentRowNumber11.
• CommentAuthorfastlane69
• CommentTimeApr 20th 2016
• (edited Apr 20th 2016)

<would be even more taxing to mix seriously and meaningfully with category theory, I would think

If you can draw nodes and links, you can categorize. And as nodes and links are everywhere in the hard and soft science, ergo CT can be applied almost everywhere.

I’m grossly oversimplifying what can be CT of course but only in response to your over-complexifing the same. ;)

IMO, perhaps n-Lab would be better served if it made a statement to this effect, that n-Lab, IMO, has a focus on the mathematical EXPOSITION AND PROOF of CT ideas and not necessarily the APPLICATION of those ideas.

Perhaps a “non-proof based applicaitions of CT” section or something of the like could help divert discussions like the OPs to more profitable and less intrusive venue? I know there is a “philosophy, etc” discussion forum already but what I suggest would be a little bit more solid than pure “speculation” but still not rising to the level of “provable fact”.

(PS: too bad we have to use our real names here or I would call myself “IMO”)

• CommentRowNumber12.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeApr 20th 2016

If you can draw nodes and links, you can categorize. And as nodes and links are everywhere in the hard and soft science, ergo CT can be applied almost everywhere.

I have seen this idea expressed before, but I am dubious. There is a considerable difference between identifying a category somewhere and actually doing category theory. This difference is similar to the difference between identifying a set somewhere and actually doing set theory. Or the difference between identifying a tree somewhere and doing operad theory, etc.

• CommentRowNumber13.
• CommentAuthorfastlane69
• CommentTimeApr 20th 2016
• (edited Apr 20th 2016)

There is a considerable difference between identifying a category somewhere and actually doing category theory.

There sure is.

Dwell upon that for a while in relation to your postings: are you just identifying potential categories or are you actually doing CT?

As I see it, n-Lab is wholly disinterested in the former but very curious about the latter.

• CommentRowNumber14.
• CommentAuthorMike Shulman
• CommentTimeApr 20th 2016

In as much as the nlab seeks to be the principal online community for category research

As far as I know, the nLab does not seek this.

• CommentRowNumber15.
• CommentAuthorTodd_Trimble
• CommentTimeApr 20th 2016

Re #14: true, that.

• CommentRowNumber16.
• CommentAuthorfastlane69
• CommentTimeApr 21st 2016
• (edited Apr 21st 2016)

Though he does make a valid point: you are viewed that way from people like us that are not part of any formal CT or math community.

To whit, try to think of any other “online community for CT anything”… I can’t think of any but n-lab.

You may not “seek it” but you may have to deal with the fact that you still “found it”.

• CommentRowNumber17.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeApr 21st 2016
• (edited Apr 21st 2016)

This thread didn’t start with anything related to category theory, or even to theory; and it is unwise to now turn the discussion as if that were the issue. The pages in question were unsuitable not because of their topics, but because of their lack of substantial content. (I have meanwhile cleared them.)

To see a recent example of a page whose kind of topic is maybe akin to what we have seen here, but whose content is suitably substantial, check out Thomas Holder’s page on kinship.

(And if Thomas reads this: please announce substantial edits like this here on the nForum!)

• CommentRowNumber18.
• CommentAuthorfastlane69
• CommentTimeApr 21st 2016
• (edited Apr 21st 2016)

Sorry Urs. I am fully aware that the OP’s content had zero CT and I’m certainly not suggesting that his content has a place here.

My latest statements are only a reminder of what n-Lab looks like to us outsiders and that confusing it for ” THE online community for CT research” is a very realistic and natural perspective that will only get stronger and attract more edits like the OP the longer n-Lab is up.

A little more disambiguation as to what YOU WANT the n-Lab to be or not be beyond the “a place for the n-POV” IMO may help streamline and prevent well-meaning people from mucking things up as the OP did…

… especially when the opening line to the site is “This is a wiki-lab for collaborative work on Mathematics, Physics and Philosophy ” and “philosophy of n-POV” is a broad enough topic that one can see how a random person off the net would interpret that “incorrectly” in your eyes.

• CommentRowNumber19.
• CommentAuthorfastlane69
• CommentTimeApr 21st 2016

BTW, if n-Lab is NOT the “online community for CT research”, then what is? ;)

• CommentRowNumber20.
• CommentAuthorUrs
• CommentTimeApr 21st 2016

BTW, if n-Lab is NOT the “online community for CT research”, then what is? ;)

This is a wiki-lab for collaborative work on Mathematics, Physics and Philosophy — especially from the n-point of view: insofar as these subjects are usefully treated with tools and notions of category theory or higher category theory.

The clause that was being violated is “usefully treated”.

• CommentRowNumber21.
• CommentAuthorfastlane69
• CommentTimeApr 21st 2016

I don’t think there is any doubt of the clause being violated; I’m merely trying to clarify if the n-Lab does seek (or already is) “the principle online community for CT research” or if instead #14 and #15 are correct.

• CommentRowNumber22.
• CommentAuthorTodd_Trimble
• CommentTimeApr 21st 2016

I don’t know if the nLab could be reasonably considered to be “the principal online community for CT research”, but I’m somewhat doubtful. If my understanding is correct, the vast majority of those who call themselves category theorists have contributed little or nothing directly to the nLab, and there are other online associations of category theorists. The really regular contributors are a pretty small band in fact, and you could even say they are a motley crew.

(With regard to #14 and #15: there is a distinction between “seeks to be” and “is”, and to my knowledge Mike is right that the nLab, composed as it is of individuals who are somewhat loosely associated, isn’t “seeking to be” anything of the sort, and that’s all I was agreeing with.)

It’s true that the nLab has become over time a pretty vast repository of categorical wisdom and is to some extent useful to quite a few researchers, but I think it should really be taken for what it is: a wiki where we can make open notes, somewhat haphazardly but having a useful hyperlinked infrastructure, that we can return to time and again. I’m not sure what part of that is not clear to outsiders. I’d think that careful readers could easily discern the wide variation in quality and depth, which indicates that the organization is largely driven by spontaneous individual needs.

5. Urs, Todd, Thank you for your suggestion. I was going to try that out. But now I see that Urs has erased my pages. So I think I will best go elsewhere.

The home page encourages participants that the purpose is not to make polished expositions of material. It even seems to encourage an occasional doodle, although I didn't see any doodles anywhere. It's also strange to have a "lab book" without any questions in it.

There seem to be many pages that have practically nothing to do with category theory. For example, consider the page on Combinatorics.

I read that such pages are important because they provide a larger context for the pages which do have to do with the "n-point of view". And because in the future they might themselves. But the pages have to start somewhere. I also read that stubs were encouraged.

So I think it would make sense to start a page on "beauty" here. But maybe beauty will absolutely never have relevance for the "n-point of view".

On the About page: The material recorded in a lab book can include:...Ideas for future work. Which I took to mean questions as well as investigations.

The page on Steering Committee states the idea: "There is nobody who would be the one in charge of the nLab". But Urs, apparently you are in charge. You didn't alert or ask me or others at this forum before deleting the pages I added. I see they were toxic.

I had read this post by Eric:
https://nforum.ncatlab.org/discussion/28/the-unthinkable/#Item_7
"As far as how big the nLab will get, I think it should get as big as the field of n-categories gets, which could be pretty big. At a minimum, it should be able to easily handle 10 people simultaneously editing possibly different (or even the same) pages. I also think it would be REALLY unfortunate if another group starts ANOTHER wiki to promote collaborative research on n-categories. In fact, the nCafe could and should ultimately encompass all of mathematics."

So that is the basis for the statement I made about representing the category theory community. But this is the "n-category" community. I apologize for my mistake and mostly irrelevant thought.

Best wishes to you all. Good bye.
• CommentRowNumber24.
• CommentAuthorTodd_Trimble
• CommentTimeApr 21st 2016

Andrius, thanks for sharing your thoughts here. I think some of your points are good ones; there are others that seem based on a misunderstanding.

I’ll explain one way in which pages are created: when someone is creating or revising an article, they may include reference to an article that hasn’t been created yet; the way this is done is to type an article name between two pairs of brackets, which winds up looking like this: $[ [article\; name] ]$. After the revision is submitted, the article name will appear in gray with a question mark after it, instead of the green which appears in the case of an extant article which has been linked to. That article name in gray acts as a kind of invitation to create a page with that article name, by clicking on it.

So, for example (I haven’t gone into the history to check if this is the case, but it’s plausible), someone revising the article $[ [species] ]$ or $[ [matroid] ]$ might type in $[ [combinatorics] ]$, and that someone or someone else might get the ball rolling by clicking on the gray link and writing something, usually a stub, and with intent to return later with some more details. However, such stubby beginnings to articles are usually organically linked to other parts of the nLab.

So, if there are such gray links you see, or stubby articles you see, where you have mathematical knowledge and can make a technical contribution, then that would be an excellent way to get your feet wet as an nLab contributor. It doesn’t have to have an nPOV necessarily, but such edits should be open to the possibility that others may wish to inject such points of view later. Anyway, this is just a slight elaboration on the kind of thing Urs was suggesting in #2.

Another example: if you see mistakes or inaccuracies, then definitely we’d like it if you edit them out and note such events at the nForum.

the purpose is not to make polished expositions of material

That’s correct: that’s not actually the purpose (as is amply shown throughout the Lab), although sometimes people go into polishing mode, and a reasonably polished-looking article is a result.

It’s also strange to have a “lab book” without any questions in it.

You may be right. Actually, the style years ago made much more use of “query boxes” which you will sometimes see, but over time we found out that it was better (easier, more efficient) to use the nForum to ask questions. So hopefully that answers that.

“n-point of view”

This could be problematic phraseology. I suppose outsiders may often wonder whether they are contributing correctly according to some imagined “nPOV’ imperative, and I suppose this might also be inhibiting some people from contributing.

There is actually no rule about this, but the idea that there is an “nPOV spirit” (whatever that means) is probably an internal source of creative tension. It may take a little time to see how one’s contributions could organically fit in, even if one is not an “$n$-category theorist”.

So I think it would make sense to start a page on “beauty” here. But maybe beauty will absolutely never have relevance for the “n-point of view”.

Never say never, but it could be a ways off before such endeavors as you had in mind can be made to fit in harmoniously. :-)

With such things, it’s probably much much better to start off purely factually, rather than launch in with very personal speculations. As an example: if someone were to create a page “Rota on mathematical beauty” and add some illustrative quotes from his book Indiscrete Thoughts, or perhaps links to other writings, then I think there’s a pretty good chance that’d fly. To be sure, people should announce such plans at the nForum.

I’d also recommend (especially to newcomers) starting off slow, e.g., stubbily, and seeing what the reactions are.

(continued next comment)

• CommentRowNumber25.
• CommentAuthorTodd_Trimble
• CommentTimeApr 21st 2016

On the About page: The material recorded in a lab book can include:…Ideas for future work. Which I took to mean questions as well as investigations.

Right, but the nLab doesn’t work as a perch for any and all pet projects. Again, I’d counsel starting in slowly, starting on a factual basis and with links to the literature, and watch for reactions at the nForum.

But Urs, apparently you are in charge.

Discussions between Steering Committee members are not open to the public.

There is no one person in charge, but Urs is, by a very wide margin, the most active and vocal member here. And in some sense he, through his work here, is a guiding spirit. (I personally may disagree with him here and there, but generally I place a great deal of confidence in what he has to say.)

Other than that, it’s true that no one person is actually in charge. We do generally try to get along and work cooperatively.

I had read this post by Eric: https://nforum.ncatlab.org/discussion/28/the-unthinkable/#Item_7 “As far as how big the nLab will get, I think it should get as big as the field of n-categories gets, which could be pretty big. At a minimum, it should be able to easily handle 10 people simultaneously editing possibly different (or even the same) pages. I also think it would be REALLY unfortunate if another group starts ANOTHER wiki to promote collaborative research on n-categories. In fact, the nCafe could and should ultimately encompass all of mathematics.”

So that is the basis for the statement I made about representing the category theory community. But this is the “n-category” community. I apologize for my mistake and mostly irrelevant thought.

IMO, we represent neither the CT community nor the n-CT community. “We” (such as we are, scattered around the world) are individual researchers with some shared interests, and some of us (not including myself btw) do significant work in $(\infty, 1)$-category theory, HoTT, and such things, and I suppose those are central thrusts that are represented here. Those shared interests are very sketchily summarized by the “nPOV”, which is (roughly) the idea that mathematics is often usefully organized and learnt by applying categorical and higher categorical principles. That lends some cohesiveness to the nLab, and I think that degree of cohesiveness has served well.

I’ll add that Eric here is Eric Forgy. He’s no longer vocal here, although he might still be reading what’s going on. He’s enthusiastic about category theory, but works (I believe) in finance and is not a professional category theorist. I agree with him at least to the extent that it would be somewhat weird if another wiki on higher category theory were to set up shop, in “competition” with us so to speak, but there are “sister sites” such as Joyal’s CatLab which are independent, as well as private webs some of us own that are operated independently but fall within the nLab complex.

Of course there is also the HoTT (Homotopy Type Theory) community, whose interests are intimately connected with higher category theory. They are completely independent of the nLab, although some people who are active here are active there too. There is a nice symbiosis I think.

• CommentRowNumber26.
• CommentAuthorfastlane69
• CommentTimeApr 21st 2016
• (edited Apr 21st 2016)

. I’m not sure what part of that is not clear to outsiders.

The lack of personal exposition such as you have you shared with us (thank you for that!) is why.

All an outsider sees is AFAIK the only central repository of CT wisdom anywhere… n-POV or otherwise.

And as such, it is natural for us to view you as “authorities” on all things CT and thus this site as perhaps the “only” place to engage in any meaningful CT discussion.

We are not aware of the “motley band” that governs this site, that their views are not “universal” in the math community, who is in charge of what, who decides what is nPOV or not, is that decision by vote, by consensus, by something else, etc, etc, etc..

This is normal for a wiki but consider again the lack of meaningful CT online communities and you’ll maybe start seeing things contravariantly (how others see you) instead of purely covariantly (how you see others).

• CommentRowNumber27.
• CommentAuthorTodd_Trimble
• CommentTimeApr 21st 2016

O wad some Power the giftie gie us.

To see oursels as ithers see us! – Robert Burns

Well, I leave it to others to decide if any of these (perhaps subjective) views can be usefully incorporated into the nLab.

• CommentRowNumber28.
• CommentAuthorMike Shulman
• CommentTimeApr 21st 2016

It’s possible, though I think unlikely, that the nLab happens to currently be the largest (in some sense) online community or respository involving category theory research. I could name some other such communities, starting with the venerable categories email list, and proceeding to the regulars at the ct.category-theory tag on MathOverflow, as well as those at the n-Category Cafe (which overlap with the regulars here, but are not the same) and many other blogs that involve category theory. Most of those communities have many more active contributors than the nLab does, although it’s possible the nLab might have a greater amount of organized content. But regardless of how we measure “largest” or “principal”, that’s irrelevant to the point of #14-15, which is that the nLab does not seek to be the “principal” anything.

• CommentRowNumber29.
• CommentAuthorfastlane69
• CommentTimeApr 21st 2016
• (edited Apr 21st 2016)

It’s possible, though I think unlikely, that the nLab happens to currently be the largest (in some sense) online community or respository involving category theory research

to which you provide as counter-examples:

email list

ct.category-theory tag

blogs (n-Category Cafe)

n-Lab is the only wiki, the only forum AFAIK (<–biggie), and the only place where people can have meaningful conversations on pretty much anything CT related (within limits and co-limits ofc).

In short, as I see it, n-Lab is the only place that has a true “classy” online community as opposed to being a “set” of followers.

“With great power comes great responsibility” - Stan Lee by way of Spiderman, a fictional character that also didn’t seek to be the anything of anything.

• CommentRowNumber30.
• CommentAuthorMike Shulman
• CommentTimeApr 21st 2016

It’s always been quite hard to explain to “outsiders” what the nLab is and isn’t. I think we would all welcome suggestions on how to do it better. But I’m not sure what you’re claiming that we have a “responsibility” to do; I certainly don’t think the nLab has a responsibility to be something that it was never intended to be just because people are confused about what it is.

• CommentRowNumber31.
• CommentAuthorfastlane69
• CommentTimeApr 21st 2016
• (edited Apr 21st 2016)

The quote wasn’t meant to say you should do anything; It was meant to signify that regardless of intent, people are viewing the n-Lab as THE repository for all things CT and that carries with it a certain responsibility towards accurately representing the subject and n-Labs position within it.

But if you did want to do something, suggestions include doing the following in a visible manner from the front page:

• edit the front page and make it more relevant; like removing that “lab book” business…it’s on the front page and it contributes NOTHING or updating the purpose to be more focused.

• making n-Labs position relative to other online CT groups clearer

• making the n-POV position clearer relative to other maths

• listing other online resources for CT such that those that want to talk about non n-POV have an outlet,

• an “about us” where contributors can share their story with CT, n-POV, and n-LAB, much like Todd shared in 24 and 25; this will help people understand what the current users of n-Lab feel it is and should be.

In short, know that you are going to get more traffic, not less, as time goes by and CT/n-POV becomes irresistible as THE math and not just A math…

… and thus the quote reminds us to assume the responsibility that representing a whole new field of math on the web entails.

I see big things for n-POV, spiderman big, which is why I think it’s never to early to think about how it/you/we are going to wield that power responsibility.

• CommentRowNumber32.
• CommentAuthorfastlane69
• CommentTimeApr 21st 2016
• (edited Apr 21st 2016)

For the record, everyone is doing an outstanding job here and there is nothing “broke” or “misleading” with n-Lab and I don’t want to give that impression.

I’ve been part of several math, physics, and CT online communities and I have to say this is by far the most respectful STEM community I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with.

Its just that I understand where the OP is coming from and that desperate desire to talk about CT with anyone and about anything. And I also understand how n-Lab looks like a shining beacon, as a central repository for all categorical thoughts big and small and where, gasp, I can seemingly talk about anything CT under the guise of “philosophy”.

I just think with a little polish and updating, the site can prevent similar misunderstandings in the future and strengthen and be more clear as to what it is and is not to the public, that is all.

• CommentRowNumber33.
• CommentAuthorMike Shulman
• CommentTimeApr 22nd 2016

I think it would be wrong to remove the “lab book” note from the front page, because that is the best analogy to explain what the nLab is, and as I said I don’t think we have any responsibility to be something different regardless of how big or influential we get. The OP is right that lab books contain doodles, but a lab assistant who does nothing but doodle in the lab book is probably not going to keep their job for long. A few doodles are tolerated from contributors who have established their credibility through substantial contributions.

Personally, I don’t see anything in 24 and 25 that isn’t covered on the About page already (which includes a section “Who are we?”). But if you do, I would say please take advantage of the fact that the nLab is a wiki and edit the HomePage or the About yourself to include it! The wiki spirit in general is “if you think it’s broken, you fix it”, and I think we would all appreciate improvements in the “public face” of the nLab. Just be extra sure to announce the changes here (probably in a more apppropriate thread than this one) so that people can make corrections or further suggestions.

• CommentRowNumber34.
• CommentAuthorfastlane69
• CommentTimeApr 22nd 2016

As I said, nothing is broken; merely sharing my perspective as someone new to the site and offering suggestons.

• CommentRowNumber35.
• CommentAuthorMike Shulman
• CommentTimeApr 22nd 2016

Sorry, I should have said “If you think it can be improved, improve it”.

• CommentRowNumber36.
• CommentAuthorzskoda
• CommentTimeApr 25th 2016
• (edited Apr 25th 2016)

Other online communities in category theory include the famous category list which functions as a mailing list but also has an online archive. It is more strictly organized, including a human moderator filtering the posts. You could also consult the math blogs list where several links associated or not to the category theory related pages.

• CommentRowNumber37.
• CommentAuthorfastlane69
• CommentTimeApr 25th 2016
• (edited Apr 25th 2016)

The Math Blogs page is on the order of what I was looking for, thanks!

Though, calling the page “math blogs”, I don’t think I would have every thought to consider it a listing of also forums and wikis. Another name, say “math webliography” for example, might make the page easier to find and closer to intent?

(EDIT: having reviewed the page, I now see why it’s called “blog”… LOL)

• CommentRowNumber38.
• CommentAuthorzskoda
• CommentTimeApr 25th 2016
• (edited Apr 25th 2016)

The page used to be called Online Resources but this is too wide (as it is not about software and other onlien material etc. which have their other pages, but about public records of math, physics and philosophy material which fertile people or online communities posted online). Now it is called math blogs with old redirect Online Resources. The choice of math blogs is the shorthand for math blogs, forums, wikis, mailing lists etc. (one can not name all the similar forms of individual and collective postings of math and related content), we discussed this naming extenisively in some past nForum threads. Math is here also an abbreviation for the general subject of nLab, and includes the physics etc. It is hard to come up with some other short working name; it is anyway just an internal tool which is known to those who care in nLab community and it is not really a subject item like say entry algebraic scheme. Somebody has tried to separate pages like physics blogs, but I think it is not helpful to divide the list as most blogs, wikis, online encyclopaedias, mailing lists etc. have overlap between topics in math, physics, computyer science etc. as far as we choose the blogs of some relevance to our nLab community interests.