I’ve been writing a bunch of paper summaries over the past couple of weeks, and I hope to continue this for several months. Why, though? This post will clear that up.

The main reason is that I’m thinking of applying to grad school, but would like to develop more clear research interests first. I wrote earlier about why I’m interested in HCI, and that has become clearer to me over the past few weeks. The best way for me to understand the field is to engage with the research.

Another reason is simply intellectual curiosity. I’ve been inspired by The Morning Paper, which summarizes a broad range of CS papers, with the author’s only rule being that they find it interesting and worth sharing. Andrew Ng wrote:

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)

This resonates with me. Even if I decide not to apply to PhD programs, reading so many papers will have made me a more well-rounded data scientist. I’m still not certain about where I want my career to go, so learning a lot early on seems like a safe bet.

From the author of The Morning Paper, Adrian Colyer:

I believe we get the most out of a paper (and the ideas within it), when we actively engage with the material.

I strongly agree, and believe that writing these summaries is the best way for me to engage with the research. I don’t know if anyone reads them–this site doesn’t use any kind of tracking or analytics–but that’s secondary to my goal of learning a lot.

Finally, I believe that the most interesting ideas come from interdisciplinary work. This was the reason that I studied integrated science, and I still feel strongly about this today. While I think I am most interested in certain subfields of HCI (algorithmic transparency, how people reason about algorithms, the impact of computing on different groups), I believe that I will develop more clear research interests by reading about adjacent, or possibly even unrelated, fields.