About the FractaLog Blog...

I started this blog in the Fall 2005 semester version of HON 462 - Chaos and Fractals. This course is an Honors course that is 1/2 seminar and 1/2 computer discovery lab. The course usually has a mixture of majors - math, CSC, chm, bio, econ, etc. It is not a math course, but rather a course on the ideas behind chaos and fractals, how the world is modeled mathematically, and the implications for modeling because of chaos. As a result, the course is almost as much philosophy and culture in addition to strange mathematical results and compelling graphic images...(See About The Course for more details, including a history of the development of the course.)

In past versions of the course students kept a journal of their reactions to the readings and computer sessions. This year I decided late in the semester to have a group blog, first asking the students if they were comfortable with the fact that their personal observations would now be (potentially) viewable to anyone. They did agree to this, and really took to blogging for the remainder of the course. I believe that part of the success of the blog effort was the look and feel of the site, and of the posts - students told me that they were showing their posts to friends and family.

You can find the student posts by going back in the monthly archives, or following the Student Post link on the Category Index Page. Most student postings are in September and December of 2005. The reason for this 3-month gap is that the students began posting immediately after the blog was started in Dec. I then asked them to go back and enter postings they had already written in their journal (and post-date them). They began doing this, which explains the September posts, but then the semester came to an end!

I wish I had started the blog on day 1 of the semester, and I will certainly use it for future courses. Some students did post a follow up message or two in the Spring 2006 semester, and others have indicated to me privately that they have read some of the postings I have put up since the class ended.


I have posted a lot since December 2005. Basically, I post something whenever I read about, or hear about anything remotely connected with chaos/fractals - e.g. weather forcasting, computer art, mathematical modeling , chaos in literature, etc. I also post items on blogs in education. (Again, check out the Category Index to find these posts.)

As most bloggers readily attest, blogging itself is quite addicting. I certainly agree, but I also find it very exciting because of its potential as both a unique teaching tool and a way for me to be more diligent/systematic about my preparation for teaching. I use the blog to post ideas that come to me that I might use in future courses, or just bits of info that in the past I would have cut out and placed in a drawer - never to be seen again! But the biggest draw for me is that blogging prods me to be more disciplined in my writing - because I will be using it in future classes.

Some technical stuff about blog hosting...

The first version of FractaLog was hosted by Blogger, the free Google service. Setting up a quick blog on Blogger is very easy, and using blogger is also very intuitive. Over time, however, I felt limited because of blogger's lack of a categorization function. After looking at many other blog hosting solution providers, some of which were free, I decided on squarespace because it is much more of a web-site environment, of which the blog is just one part. This will allow me to have a dedicated site to the chaos/fractals course,and I will be able to post syllabi, student projects, class readings, and other resources as needed. Over time, I expect that this site will become my home web site.

As a result of the switch from blogger to squarespace, the student posts that were in blogger appear here with my name as the author. I cannot change this, so I added a beginning line to each student post indicating the original author.

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