in Life

Why I started qount-it

There’s that prezi which, in principle, does answer that question. And there are also tiny paragraphs over on the currently open blog (phi). I don’t really know what to add here, so I’ll just tell you a story.

I don’t know when the idea came – I don’t even remember if it’s my brother’s idea or mine. It was some time after I made that math magazine in class X, in which I just copy-pasted wikipedia like the most pathetic doofus I’m aware of being. Sometime after that, when I grew a bit to look back and feel ashamed that I’d contributed to such a buttload of pointless crap (and that ‘magazine’ was distributed to random sixthies and seventhies too – poor kids), I think my brother said to me that we should make a math magazine, national at the least; there is none that we know of – yeah, mathematics today is a magazine for entrance aspirants. Not much mathematically inclined people – especially in India. We went through numerous ideas; the closest of the kind of popular non-fiction we wanted to make – was plus. I even thought of simply printing and selling plus articles. And the like. We went through an infinitude of lame names as well, for a math magazine. Mostly far too embarassing to even mention. Most of this thinking and name-searching happened about August-September 2009. At the same time, the idea of what our magazine was supposed to be, significantly matured as well. One of the prominent inspirations for what we want as our company, or at least somewhat similar, was envato – the psdtuts guys (the point being, they have good content, with a substantial aim of user-generated content.) So, the aim became such – unlike plus, the specialty of our magazine was supposed to be, that it’s aimed to be based on user contributions. At that time, I would also claim a significant difference to be that we’d have a prettier site, and commenting facilities. But plus recently upgraded and does have comments, as well as article pdfs, something I’d imagined. The other ‘specialty’, was that considering mathematicians wrote the articles on plus, though they try to be friendly, nice and not presume our knowledge about anything, I barely found articles on plus that were adequately engaging as well as provided scope for understanding and learning stuff. There was (is) no fun content. And so on. I don’t know how much I can “ensure” that I myself can write engaging math articles on Phi, let alone anybody else. Although, slightly like Plus, our “target audience” so to say, is pretty much anybody who likes math; but the primary target right now, who’d gain from, or engage in phi, our magazine (or the entirety of qount-it for that matter), is currently supposed to be school students. Because I can’t see how we can ‘influence’, or be of any outstanding purpose for non-school (home-school counts as school. School is basically a period when our minds are happy, creative, fertile, and generally by default eager to learn new stuff) people. And exposure to awesome math in school, I believe, would be real helpful/cool/fun to lots of people – those who like math, and even those who would potentially like math if they saw the cool, self-thinking, creative side of it, rather than the monotonous school stuff.

Everybody, all around the math… oops, world, is concerned with math education. It is valued, and considered essential. Also, when you start looking for something real earnestly, it starts popping up everywhere doesn’t it? So, we chanced upon Lockhart’s lament – some piece of awesomeness. It was already a year and a half old when I landed on it, but in most cases, until something radical (like qount-it, yeah right! :P) happens, it’s going to be timeless. That essay also gave me a much more mature perspective of math, art, and the stuff, than what I had then. Also, it gave us a much better definable purview as to what we want to present in our math magazine. Around the same time, for other reasons I’ll hopefully disclose later, we also got obsessed with the letter q. And we started thrusting it in all places there is a ‘k’ pronunciation in a word. And we’d also realized that the magazine wasn’t going to be the only thing we’ll be doing. A magazine by itself, would be far too ephemeral. In the infinitude of blogs, and also numerous magazines, few people (apart from involved mathematicians, or jobless people like me), know about the many niche math blogs, and magazines there actually are; and barely any in/from India. And magazines fail to stick around, and/or make a difference – or so is my opinion. The name qount-it happened (sometime around Jan 2010, I guess – I should check the domain registration, which we did within two weeks of landing on it, but bleh), with random, vague, and mixed up plans of doing lots of things. The other comparison, of a much more involved site – became AoPS. We planned of doing lots of things, online classes, online group problem solving sessions, contests, forum discussions, and more than one thing which we later saw that AoPS is/has already done. I’ll tell you the details of the numerous plans for qount-it, for a trade that you write for phi. 😉

We picked the name phi, sometime in January 2010, along with lots of other names, for the lots of other things. Why qount-it is still the upper thing (primary domain), is because we still plan to do the numerous other things.

Valentine’s day, February 2010, we had such brilliant plans to launch with a valentine’s day card (I made a video too, which we’ll by most chances use the next valentine’s day now) declaring math as our love. But the plan was thwarted, among other reason, due to the pathetic VM tests, and my continuing underperformance in all of them.

1 month later came pi day, but we left that too due to my class XI exams. All remarkably pathetic reasons, but considering the incredibly stupid and poor-mark-fetching guy that I am, and the family, brother that I live with, it was kind of a compulsion that I pretend to care about those, and not waste my time doing extra-curricular things when I can’t keep up with my own curriculum.

Then postponing stuff, failing exams, we saw 22/7 as the next chance. We didn’t even know that had any known significance, so we thought we’d do it with the aim of popularizing that! But, everybody did; even Wikipedia knew about July 22, the pi approximation day. And we still failed to launch on that due to exams and repetitive lameness. Everytime the plans to launch things kept changing. The things we’d simultaneously start off with, were different every time, the theme of our launch site, the theme of our blogs, and the other things. Everything. And it was a continuing struggle of desperation, because more often than not, we were only downhill in the scale of our plans, from Feb 2010 onwards. Primarily because of how I kept on failing in all my school exams and tests, missing out on SUMaC, and a plethora of similar reasons that can only be attributed to my very own lameness.

Finally, we missed Valentine’s day ‘11, pi day ’11 too. I [submitted the mathcamp app :)], gave the JEE, and didn’t fail I like to believe, but was far from any success in any way. And then I gave the AIEEE. And then began to feel immensely bored, and sad with life, and how I have only failed so far.

And on 4th May, we were thinking of cheap ways to stick it into dates, and just launch. Everybody (Seth Godin and the likes), keeps going on and on about the most crucial things being shipping it – we’d planned so much, we’ve forgotten nearly all of them by now. So many. It feels lame in a stage like that. I came up with 6th may, 6+5=11. Pathetic, eh?

We thought a bit more, and came up with 8th May, 8/5=1.6≈φ. And we decided to make our own Phi day, and celebrate it off. We did. There’s phi, with extremely little content at this instant, and lots of big dreams. I want you to help me. If you’re here, by most chances you’re a friend anyways, and like math. So write me a nice fun article, about something simple, but something at the end of which, one does learn something. And if you don’t [yet] like math, subscribe to phi. At this instant, we’re so disorganized, we don’t even have a feed set up. You could put the link into your google reader, or the sort. You could like our Facebook page, or follow us on twitter, if you want to try and somewhat follow phi, qount-it, and the growths and new content as well.

If you actually read this far, I commend you immensely. Because I just realized that I forgot to answer the question I posted on the top entirely. The prezi was not a formal sidestepping, only a momentary distraction to show you how pretty things I design. The aim of qount-it, as I like to believe, is surmised very well in the tag line, which you can barely see anywhere, because the qount-it individual homepage is still due.

The aim of qount-it, is to “Make Math Marvelous”. Not necessarily with alliteration, but that always helps now, doesn’t it? So, we make math look cool. Not that it/she isn’t, already. We just try and make it more evident, and accessible – basically trying to counteract the mind numbing evilness the school does on all of us, and making math look much more unattractive than “reality” suggests.

I’ll try and write lots of opinionated articles on my beliefs about math, which are basically repetitions or kiddish attempts at presenting my vastly immature and inexperienced perspective. But it’s also my magazine. I also welcome you to do the same. If you manage to pull in enough subscribers, and if we ever make the magazine (or anything of qount-it) paid and you also help me get money out of it, I’d have the least problem in sharing some of the money with you. 