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I just got the following email:

Hi Noam,

I just came across your blog, Algorithmic Game Theory and found it to be pretty insightful. I’m trying to get some freelance practice, and was wondering if you would be willing to consider a guest piece from me. I could write on something specific for you, or something that would fit in with your blog. Let me know if you are willing and if there is a process or anything. If you choose to accept my article, I would only ask for a single link back to my site, http://www.onlinedegreeshub.com/. I have included 2 of my previous published posts:

http://www.onlinedegreeshub.com/blog/2009/12-celebs-who-give-geeks-hope-for-fame-and-fortune/

http://www.onlinedegreeshub.com/blog/2009/100-ivy-league-computer-science-courses-you-can-take-for-free-online/

Please get back with me if you would like me to send something over for your consideration.

Thanks for your time,
Tara Miller

I have to admit that I was intrigued by this unusual mode of marketing: the sole desired reward is attention — a link to the website. Of course, the spam filter on this blog routinely removes many automatically-generated comments that attempt “stealing attention”, but this offer does not seem to be neither spam nor automatically generated and the offer for the “guest post” seems personalized enough so that real work was offered. What is being promoted seems to be a rather new web site and blog that intend to be a portal for online education/degrees — probably not useful for most of the audience of this blog — but still seems to contain some useful links to online material. I was impressed enough with the basic premise of this offer (as well as somewhat flattered by the suggestion that the attention that my blog can bring is worth something) that my response was to use the letter, with the links, directly as a blog post. So, Tara, if you’re actually reading this, a comment on your experience with this marketing effort would be appreciated.


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The new GoogleReserach on Twitter will certainly have some tweets related to algorthmic game theory such as the announcement of the WWW’09 paper “Bid Optimization for Broad Match Ad Auction” by Eyal Even Dar, Vahab S. Mirrokni, S. Muthukrishnan, Yishay Mansour, and Uri Nadav.

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Some academic fields have a “blog community” that caters to the academics in the field.  A few blogs, taken together, perform the function of the “town newspaper” for this academic group, covering new results, problems, funding issues, conferences, gossip, as well as related philosophical and sociological musings.  Theoretical CS is certainly one such field (as I mentioned in  aprevious post).  Math (or at least some sub-areas in it) seem to have something similar (e.g. Tao, Gowers,  Kalai, the secret blogging seminar…), and I think also some parts of physics.  I tried looking for such communities in areas surrounding algorithmic game theory, but couldn’t really find the type of academic-community-focused blogosphere that I was looking for.  The Academic blogs Wiki was of only little help.

Here are some areas that I am looking at:

  1. Theoretical Economics — While there are many many economics blogs, some highly popular (like the Freakonomics blog), many of them seem to address current economic affairs more than issues directly aimed at the economic academic community, not to mention the theoretical economics community which I was looking for.  One blog which is close is Market Design.  
  2. Social choice theory — I couldn’t find anything.  I’m not sure that this is a thriving community any more even though there is an active journal.
  3. Game Theory — Despite a very useful web-site with game-theory resoures, I couldn’t find a single blog devoted to game theory (beyond the previously mentioned Market Design Blog and a blog called game theorist which is actually about raising children).  It would seem to me that the field of game theory — used by many but actively studied by few — would be a natural candidate for an academic blog.
  4. Multi-agent systems — A website called Multiagent systems seems to have very little activity; I couldn’t find other blogs in the field (or actually in AI in general) with any game-theory tendencies.

So, can any readers help?

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The theoretical computer science community has a pretty active blogosphere that indeed “carries a conversation” for the field.  Lance Fortnow’s Computational Complexity blog (now co-written by Bill Gasarch) has been running since 2002.  Luca Trevisan’s blog is focused on complexity, Scott Aaronson’s on quantum computation, Michael Mitzenmacher’s is general, Richard Lipton’s has an historical point of view, and they all, as well as a few others, are really interacting with each other to a level that gives a feeling of a community [Added after a well desrved snark at me:  Suresh Venkatasubramanian‘s (and a few other) focuses on computational geometry, and Mihai Pătraşcu‘s on data structures.]  I think that this mode of community-building is good for science and we are yet exploring the possibilities.  (In this vein, it’s hard not to mention the recent spectacular polymath project on Gowers’s blog.)

Part of the motivation for this blog is a desire for the creation of a similar community for algorithmic game theory.  Some blogs in this community do exist: Muthu’s, Paul Goldberg’s, and David Penock’s is also related.  Lance also writes on AGT stuff in his complexity blog.  A community is in the making and I want to be part of it.

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