in which I suffer a minor setback due to hyperbolic discounting

I wrote a paper with some collaborators that was officially published today in Nature Methods (though it’s been available online for a few weeks). I spent a year of my life on this (a YEAR! That’s like 30 years in opossum years!), so go read the abstract, just to humor me. It’s about large-scale automated synthesis of human functional neuroimaging data. In fact, it’s so about that that that’s the title of the paper*. There’s also a companion website over here, which you might enjoy playing with if you like brains.

I plan to write a long post about this paper at some point in the near future, but not today. What I will do today is tell you all about why I didn’t write anything about the paper much earlier (i.e., 4 weeks ago, when it appeared online), because you seem very concerned. You see, I had grand plans for writing a very detailed and wonderfully engaging multi-part series of blog posts about the paper, starting with the background and motivation for the project (that would have been Part 1), then explaining the methods we used (Part 2), then the results (III; let’s switch to Roman numerals for effect), then some of the implications (IV), then some potential applications and future directions (V), then some stuff that didn’t make it into the paper (VI), and then, finally, a behind-the-science account of how it really all went down (VII; complete with filmed interviews with collaborators who left the project early due to creative differences). A seven-part blog post! All about one paper! It would have been longer than the article itself! And all the supplemental materials! Combined! Take my word for it, it would have been amazing.

Unfortunately, like most everyone else, I’m a much better person in the future than I am in the present; things that would take me a week of full-time work in the Now apparently take me only five to ten minutes when I plan them three months ahead of time. If you plotted my temporal discounting curve for intellectual effort, it would look like this:

So that’s why my seven-part series of blog posts didn’t debut at the same time the paper was published online a few weeks ago. In fact, it hasn’t debuted at all. At this point, my much more modest goal is just to write a single much shorter post, which will no longer be able to DEBUT, but can at least slink into the bar unnoticed while everyone else is out on the patio having a smoke. And really, I’m only doing it so I can look myself in the eye again when I look myself in the mirror. Because it turns out it’s very hard to shave your face safely if you’re not allowed to look yourself in the eye. And my labmates are starting to call me PapercutMan, which isn’t really a superpower worth having.

So yeah, I’ll write something about this paper soon. But just to play it safe, I’m not going to operationally define ‘soon’ right now.

 

* Three “that”s in a row! What are the odds! Good luck parsing that sentence!

5 thoughts on “in which I suffer a minor setback due to hyperbolic discounting”

  1. Planning to write a long blog post, huh? This seems sort of backwards. In my experience, long blog posts happen when I’m procrastinating on something else. To procrastinate on a blog post . . . that’s pretty meta!

  2. I hear you, Andrew… I’d also much rather write a long blog post than do many other things. But for that very reason, I won’t let myself blog during the day time. By the time blogging time (> 9 pm) rolls around, I’m often too tired to do anything else. Hence the procrastination!

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