The Morning Paper: a short summary every weekday of an important, influential, topical or otherwise interesting paper in the field of computer science.
There are several ways to take your morning paper:
- By subscription to The Morning Paper mailing list
- by following me, @adriancolyer, on Twitter
- by visiting this blog,
- or by RSS subscription to this feed
During the course of a year, we’ll cover a broad range of computer science topics. I’m an expert in none of them! To the extent that I manage to bring any insight to the papers that I write up, this mostly comes from (a) reading a lot of papers across the various sub-disciplines, and (b) getting to see a lot of companies through my role as a Venture Partner with Accel in London. (It probably comes as no surprise if I also tell you that I spent the first 20+ years of my career in technical roles before finding myself at a VC firm!).
I’d like to take just a few moments to share with you what to expect from The Morning Paper, and offer a few suggestions for how you can make the most of it.
In terms of paper selection, my only real rule is that I find it interesting and that I believe it’s worth sharing. I’m naturally curious and love learning, so the set of things that I find interesting is pretty broad! To read, understand (to the best of my ability) and write-up each paper takes me a minimum of two hours, more often two-and-a-half to three hours and occasionally longer. My goal is to produce a piece that you can read and digest in around 10 minutes or less that gives you the essential ideas. I.e., something you can consume during a coffee (or tea!) break. Over the course of a year, you’ll be exposed to the ideas from 200+ papers.
I recently came across the following quote from Andrew Ng:
When I talk to researchers, when I talk to people wanting to engage in entrepreneurship, I tell them that if you read research papers consistently, if you seriously study half a dozen papers a week and you do that for two years, after those two years you will have learned a lot. This is a fantastic investment in your own long term development. (Inside The Mind That Built Google Brain: On Life, Creativity, And Failure)
Not all of us can make the time to seriously study six papers a week, but if you can manage to take on board the key ideas from five that’s still pretty good in my book! Please don’t feel pressure to read every single edition of The Morning Paper though. It’s fine to just read the ones that pique your interest, but I do strongly encourage you to dip into some of the papers from outside of your own area of expertise.
I believe we get the most out of a paper (and the ideas within it), when we actively engage with the material. Creating the write-ups is one of the ways that I do that, and having a few thousand people expecting their daily paper write-up to arrive in their inbox keeps me going on days when I don’t otherwise feel like doing it. (Thankfully, there aren’t many days like that – I love learning and sharing, I wouldn’t be able to keep going if I didn’t!).
Here a few suggestions for time-efficient ways of engaging with The Morning Paper write-ups that will help you get even more out of them:
- Try explaining to a colleague or friend during a coffee or lunch break what today’s paper (write-up) was all about.
- Encourage a group of your friends and/or co-workers to also subscribe. (Just send them to this link). Get in the habit of chatting about the paper of the day socially in the office (or the chat forum!). Is there an analogy to some situation in your own environment?
- You might even go so far as to create a mini reading group / discussion group within your company that meets once a week to discuss the week’s paper write-ups. It’s a bit like an in-house papers-we-love meetup, but without the difficulty of having to find speakers to present every time. If you do set up one of these, please do let me know. I’d love to hear any stories about how you’ve found it once it’s been up and running for a while too.
- Forward a paper write-up to people you think might enjoy it and add a few comments of your own by way of introduction.
- Share a paper that you enjoyed with your social network. I’m @adriancolyer on twitter, and I tweet each day’s papers as the write-ups go online.
- Start a discussion on HackerNews or Reddit about a post that catches your interest. (I tend to focus just on writing the content – that takes enough time as it is! – but if readers help spread the word about the research I’m covering then that is always appreciated!).
If you’re a battle-hardened practitioner, I hope you find it stimulating to (re?)-engage with research ideas. With the gap from research to practice narrowing considerably in key areas of our field there’s plenty you can use, and I always like to cover papers that I believe practitioners can get immediate benefit from.
If you’re a researcher, I encourage you to especially take the ten minutes a day to read the paper write-ups from areas outside of your core research area. I believe many of the most interesting ideas and breakthroughs come from cross-fertilisation across the different (sub-) disciplines. Distributed systems, database systems, and machine learning communities all have plenty to teach each other as a simple example. If the paper of the day does happen to be in your area of expertise and you can add additional insights, please do leave a comment on the blog so that everyone can benefit. (Comments are moderated because spam, so sometimes it can take a while for them to appear).
If you’re an under-graduate or recent graduate, welcome! If only I had started this habit when I first graduated – think of all the compounding of ideas over the years!!
For whatever reason brings you to The Morning Paper, I hope you find at least one or two ideas every now and then that excite and inspire you, or that you can put into use. If that happens, I’d love to hear about it.
All the very best, Adrian.
About me: I’m a Venture Partner with Accel in London, where it’s my job to help find and build great technology companies across Europe and Israel. If you’re working on an interesting technology-related business I’d love to hear from you: you can reach me at acolyer at accel dot com. Prior to joining Accel I spent over twenty years in technical roles, including CTO roles at Pivotal, VMware, and SpringSource.
Thanks for reading The Morning Paper!