Caveat lector: This blog is where I try out new ideas. I will often be wrong, but that's the point.

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Crowdsourcing a Letter of Recommendation

I've got a huge favor to ask of you all.

At the behest of some of my friends and colleagues I have decided to go on the academic job market earlier than I expected and apply for a (very) few tenure-track faculty positions. My chances are slim, but several people have told me I should take a shot since the cost is low.

Over the course of running this blog for just shy of three years I've had some amazing conversations and interactions with all of you, however these kinds of conversations are hidden from the traditional academic metrics, and that sucks.

In addition to a research statement, part of the job applications require letters of recommendation as well as a teaching statement.

I've decided to include as an additional letter of recommendation and as part of my teaching statement a recommendation from... well... the Internet. From you all.

If anything I've written on this blog or elsewhere, any lecture I've given, any research I've done has had an effect on you (positive or negative I guess), I would be immensely grateful if you would be willing to take a few minutes to email a statement to me explaining how.


Send me as long or short of a note as you'd like. Because academia is such a hierarchy-obsessed group, the more information about your real-world self you can include, the better: name, title, university or industry affiliation, etc.

But please know that I don't care as much about those things. I'd love to hear from you regardless of your job/title/pedigree. In fact, I personally believe the more non-academics I've reached the better.

If you ask me to keep your comments anonymous, I will do so. If you want to just leave an anonymous comment on this post, I'll be moderating them all, so I will receive your comment but it won't be published here.

Maybe you liked something I wrote on here, Twitter, Quora, the SciAm guest blogs, O'Reilly Radar, whatever. Maybe you liked my TEDxBerkeleyGoogle, or zombie talks. Or hated them. Maybe brainSCANr inspired you to hack your own scientific project or maybe you saw a lecture I gave in real life or on Google Plus. Some of you may have started reading this blog as an undergrad and are now off doing amazing things as graduate students, or in industry.

If anything I've done online has had an impact on you, please let me know.

We in the scientific blogging community are always looking for alternative metrics. But we rarely ask on another for help. I'm asking now.

The idea of having a letter of recommendation from the Internet seems awesome to me. I really hope this works.

(And if you're curious, you can read the draft of my Teaching Statement (PDF) and check out my publication record.)