Kavinayan Sivakumar

PhD Student at Duke University studying multi-agent AI and decision making

Starting a Blog

09 Aug 2021 » blog, writing

If I have to be honest, starting a blog was an idea I’ve had since I graduated college. The idea first originated when an older alumni told me it not only helped him establish a footing in a space he was interested in, but also resulted in people from other domains reaching out to him based off the other topics he wrote about. I also had close friends start websites, one of them writing mostly about computer science and machine learning, and it made me want to share my thoughts and possibly teach in some capacity as well. As a result, shaping the blog towards an academic identity seemed natural, given the interest in robotics and AI in recent times.

But for anyone who knows me, I probably talk about robotics and AI the least in casual conversation. Maybe it’s because I spend most of my waking hours focusing on it so I’m attracted to other avenues of conversation; or maybe it’s because it still hasn’t breached the fabric of public opinion, as opposed to topics such as cryptocurrency which have garnered fervent support and are the subject of viral tweets. It’s probably a mix of the two, but taking a look at the main things I talk about with friends - books, life philosophies, sports, video games, chess - it’s hard for me to write solely about my academic work or items that pertain to it, purely because I find a lot of things interesting. And if I find something interesting, I usually tend to nerd out about it.

When I made this blog, there was a description field that stood empty. I tried the standard, “I write about things I think are cool” and “Thoughts on chess, robotics, life, among other things” but it didn’t sit right. I wanted a space where sure, I could break down a research paper I found interesting or maybe write about chess principles for aspiring players, or even explain the own work I was doing in academia. But I also wanted a space where I could talk about my opinions on the state of board games or my personal strategies for getting better at Starcraft 2 (“better” here is defined as Gold 3. I said “better”, not “competent”).

There are some other arguments for a wide variety of subject matter on this blog: I discovered through some personal experimentation that I was far more productive in my daily academic work when I set aside time for creative projects such as writing, learning strategies for poker, or startup ideas. Though this could merely be placebo (I know it’s not any hard proof, but come on, are you really going to make me do literature review for my first post?), I like to think it’s a left brain-right brain concept at work. Another is that writing about anything I find interesting will help offset the academic writing I have to do for research papers and doctoral exams.

The description field now reads, “You know Calvin’s Transmogrifier? Imagine that but as a blog”. Calvin and Hobbes is pretty dear to me, and I could probably quote you almost every strip there is. The Transmogrifier is this device that turns you into anything you want. In reality, it’s a cardboard box with an arrow on the side. That’s what I want this blog to be: a place where you can read about almost anything, because the options to spin that arrow to are going to be various. But come what may, it’s going to take up a few strips. Maybe even a Sunday edition.


  1. https://disemvowel.wordpress.com/2010/05/20/calvin-and-hobbes-by-bill-watterson-transmogrifier/, Bill Watterson