I Am Joe’s Blog:

May 8, 2005 • 5:36 PM

Looking for More ITotD Topics—and Authors

We are rapidly approaching the end of May—the point at which 365 consecutive Interesting Thing of the Day articles will have been published, as promised. And, as I’ve also indicated, that is the time when I anticipate making some pretty significant changes to the site. (See also the follow-up article here.) But even now, I’m discovering—to my shock and horror—that I’m running out of topics. Yes, it’s true. Although I have no doubt that the world is full of many thousands of interesting things that have not yet appeared on this site, my personal list is pretty well depleted.

Many of the topics discussed so far have come from reader suggestions, which I appreciate enormously. And I have a few more such articles I’m still planning to write. But the pickin’s are slim right now. I could really use a large infusion of new ideas! If there’s something interesting you’d like to read about on the site, please follow the instructions (including, especially, the request for reference sources) on the suggestion form. To help jog your creativity, here are the themes for the next few weeks (and remember, I interpret these themes as broadly and ambiguously as possible):

May 8–14: Missing in Action
May 15–21: Preconceived Motions
May 22–28: Odds and Ends
May 29–31: Less Is More

There will, by the way, be more new articles after that, but (a) not until I’ve had myself a nice long vacation; (b) not every single day, as they have been; and (c) probably without the weekly themes I’ve relied on over the last year. More information about the upcoming changes at ITotD, which I’m actually quite excited about, will appear at the end of May.

One small disclaimer: not every suggestion turns into an article (not even the ideas I’ve come up with on my own). For every article you read on ITotD, perhaps 8 or 10 ideas were considered and abandoned. This happens for a variety of reasons. Sometimes a suggested topic is too broad (“Write something about flowers!”); other times, I can’t dig up enough information to justify writing a whole article. (For example, trivia facts, while interesting, are not what the site is about.) Then there are times when a topic is too complex, too controversial, or in some ineffable way just “not right.” I can’t always say precisely why a particular topic doesn’t work, but I’ve developed a fairly good feel for what I can and can’t turn into an article. All that to say: if you’ve offered a suggestion that has not appeared as an article, please don’t feel bad. It may yet appear; and if not, it wasn’t for lack of trying. I routinely spend an hour or two researching a topic only to find, sadly, that it won’t work out for one reason or another.

So: do send in suggestions, but better yet—become a guest author! Over the past year, about a dozen articles have been contributed by five other authors. I’d be ecstatic if that number jumped to one or more guest articles every single week. If there’s something interesting that you’d like to write about from your own experience, that would be tremendous. Everything you need to know about writing for ITotD is on our Write for ITotD page (or in the style guide). Please do run your ideas by me before actually starting work on an article, and bear in mind that there are a few (easily navigable) hoops to jump through on the way to publication. But I’d deeply appreciate some help with the writing—both now and after May 31.

Comments

  1. Kate Emerson
    May 9th, 2005 | 12:43 pm

    I have read some of your articles and have found them deliciously diverse and informative. — just right for people like me who are intellectually curious but don’t have the time to pursue everthing! So here are a few ideas

    *Ever heard about the Gatling gun or the Puckle gun? *Dandelions, why does everyone hate them and where did they come from? *Forks *Who invented the omelette? — or Quiche??? *What exactly are the 4 humors?

    — Just a few. Kate Emerson

  2. Kate Emerson
    May 9th, 2005 | 4:43 am

    I have read some of your articles and have found them deliciously diverse and informative. — just right for people like me who are intellectually curious but don’t have the time to pursue everthing! So here are a few ideas

    *Ever heard about the Gatling gun or the Puckle gun? *Dandelions, why does everyone hate them and where did they come from? *Forks *Who invented the omelette? — or Quiche??? *What exactly are the 4 humors?

    — Just a few. Kate Emerson

  3. Schremmer
    May 9th, 2005 | 4:24 pm

    (a) How about “petrodollars”?

    (b) I will keep alert to possible topics.

    (c) I would love to contribute but what? Being a reactive person, I need something to react to and I find it hard to react to myself. (I normaly write mathematics “for the rest of us” and even there the going gets tough when I have no one to argue with. Latest thing I wrote, though, was Have OS X, Want LaTeX?, or something to that effect, in PracTeX Journal after having flamed—privately, the editor thereof for a previous “introductory article” which was anything but introductory.)

    So, perhaps, “dialogues” on something?

    –schremmer

  4. Schremmer
    May 9th, 2005 | 8:24 am

    (a) How about “petrodollars”?

    (b) I will keep alert to possible topics.

    (c) I would love to contribute but what? Being a reactive person, I need something to react to and I find it hard to react to myself. (I normaly write mathematics “for the rest of us” and even there the going gets tough when I have no one to argue with. Latest thing I wrote, though, was Have OS X, Want LaTeX?, or something to that effect, in PracTeX Journal after having flamed—privately, the editor thereof for a previous “introductory article” which was anything but introductory.)

    So, perhaps, “dialogues” on something?

    –schremmer

  5. May 10th, 2005 | 1:00 pm

    I like to write, I may try writing an article about something.

    Some suggestions: -There was an interesting article in Scientific American recently about how some of the great painters may have used optics to “cheat.” That might make a good article. -Penrose Tiles -Welwitschia mirabilis (strangest plant known to man) -RFID Chips -Jacob’s Ladder (for making electronic arcs) -The creation of the electromagnet. -Lichens: the pairing of fungus and plant

    Sorry if you’ve already done any of these, I only started reading this a few months ago.

  6. May 10th, 2005 | 5:00 am

    I like to write, I may try writing an article about something.

    Some suggestions: -There was an interesting article in Scientific American recently about how some of the great painters may have used optics to “cheat.” That might make a good article. -Penrose Tiles -Welwitschia mirabilis (strangest plant known to man) -RFID Chips -Jacob’s Ladder (for making electronic arcs) -The creation of the electromagnet. -Lichens: the pairing of fungus and plant

    Sorry if you’ve already done any of these, I only started reading this a few months ago.

  7. May 22nd, 2005 | 3:41 pm

    I saw that you used two of my ideas! Thanks! Let me see if I can think of some more… -The Kakapo Parrot -The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker is in the news right now… -The coelocanth (I think I spelled that right), a living-fossil fish -The history of the Xerox machine -Psychological effects of color

    That’s all for now! BTW, about the welwitschia, I noticed you didn’t mention that if it loses just one of its leaves, it dies. It’s really a bizarre plant…only two leaves, which are never replaced, and never stop growing!

  8. May 22nd, 2005 | 7:41 am

    I saw that you used two of my ideas! Thanks! Let me see if I can think of some more… -The Kakapo Parrot -The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker is in the news right now… -The coelocanth (I think I spelled that right), a living-fossil fish -The history of the Xerox machine -Psychological effects of color

    That’s all for now! BTW, about the welwitschia, I noticed you didn’t mention that if it loses just one of its leaves, it dies. It’s really a bizarre plant…only two leaves, which are never replaced, and never stop growing!

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