Opus Solve: Day 19, lessons learned

It's almost three (3) full weeks into Opus Solve, and I can say that I am rather anxious about its (lack of ) progress. Even though I'm committed for the long haul (this continues through the end of October 2016), I expected more immediate success in the short-term. Having not gotten that thus far, I'll offer some pithy reasons disguised as excuses.

Although the roadshow lasted throughout October, I think that marketing this project could have been done for much longer. I rushed to speak with bunches of math departments at select American universities, and the enthusiasm was luke-warm from the beginning. Instead of anticipation for something such as this, there were actually cases where officials openly said they would shelve such discussions at staff meetings. The press also has not been helpful; hundreds of journalists at respected media outlets have yet to publish anything more than what I output on this site.

Another obstacle may be that crowdsourcing IQ is not original. The Web is replete with q and a exchange forums (Stack Exchange comes to mind) and blogs - even mathematical blogs - that occasionally invite others to tackle open problems. Also, those sites are more or less run by dedicated mathematicians from academia. Perhaps it would have been best to start with a very minor proposition (like a special case of a lemma) on one of those sites, and have the space morph into "Opus Solve" here. Maybe, maybe not; the jury's still not out, yet.

Bigger still, crowdfunding mathematics seems to be a drag. You would think that MPP offering such a large payout would naturally magnetize professionals and amateurs alike to this, but it hasn't. Getting folks to part with their money for this cause seems to present itself as too arcane for the general public. No matter how dressed up it is, it's still math, and something people tend to shy away from if they don't see direct benefits. Not having participants probably shows the audience (and potential underwriters) that this likely isn't something worthy of expedience (which is probably why this has been dragging on since 2000). It almost seems like the only way to not fall backwards here is to move forward.




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