The LaTeX Ninja: Topics and the pseudonym

Since starting this blog about a year ago, I am at a point where I think my choice of typical topics is more or less stable. I also have used the WordPress “categories” to add many of these topics and also hope to develop some of them into some sort of series. What these ‘series’ are for, is explained in the category descriptions now.

The Ninja: A pseudonym

Also, I wanted to quickly address another thing: My pseudonym. I have already talked about why I started this blog multiple times before. There is a basic mission statement in the about section. Long story short, the ‘LaTeX Ninja’ was a goal, not a label I put on myself. It doesn’t describe ultimate LaTeX wisdom (for that, I have sometimes used the term ‘LaTeX Guru’). If the LaTeX journey you can join on this blog were a computer game, you you start out as a ‘LaTeX Noob’. As you gain experience, you become the Ninja, then – maybe one day – you become the Guru and get to preach the TeX book to fellow believers 😉

But enough with the jokes. What I really wanted to address is the question of why I write under a pseudonym as this issue has come up lately (not in a negative way, but anyway). The pseudonym is meant as a ‘character’. When I post on the Ninja, I am not in my role as a DH professional. At least not strictly speaking because I don’t write as ‘myself’. I write as the Ninja. I write as this character I created. This gives me the freedom to play a role, but also to express the thoughts I want to express without any second thoughts about me representing my institution, for example. On that account, it’s also not like this pseudonym means I am posting here anonymously. If you take a close look at my Twitter account(s) you can learn who I am if you want to. Just recently, someone who knew me and knew my blog but didn’t know that it was my blog made the connection from knowing some stuff about my personal life which I had been hinting at in the blog posts. So if you want to know who I am, feel free to have a closer look.

The Ninja: A persona

Please remember, this blog is a personal blog. It doesn’t reveal all that much personal information because here, I only want to share things relevant to the LaTeX Ninja persona. But most importantly, I want to be able to say what I want to say without being linked with my institution or employer. I don’t know whether they know about my blog (however, it would be easy for them to find out). I don’t know if they follow my blog or approve of what I have to say. And I don’t care because this blog has nothing to do with them and I want to keep it that way. A bit like a splitted personality 😉  Some of my colleagues know about it. One of them is an accomplice here, playing the role of the Noob.

Another thing the relative anonymity allows me to do is to post about topics I am passionate about and people interact with them because we care about the same topics. I don’t want to hear that I only get read because people know me. Many of my friends and colleagues have so many more Twitter followers with their personal accounts. I don’t want this to be a personal account. I also feel that some of the DH blogs around the DH Twittersphere get more attention than the Ninja does, even though they post much less frequently or regularly, because the authors share their identity and affiliation. Because (that way?) they are maybe more visible in the community. (However, visibility on the internet is also mostly a question of how long you’ve been around for and how regularly you created valuable content, so that might just go away with time). I don’t want people to only follow me because they know me. It’s kind of like Tim Ferriss’s business model built on Kevin Kelly’s 1000 true fans idea.

I don’t know about you, but I have no damn clue how to get 100,000,000 to visit my website. But I knew I could find a way to get 250,000 to find me. […] Let’s say instead of 250,000 visitors (which takes a lot of time to get) you have just 1,000 email subscribers. […] Kevin Kelly calls this the 1,000 True Fans approach, where even 1,000 true fans can fund you for life:

A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author – in other words, anyone producing works of art – needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.

This is pretty amazing if you want to create something with impact. It means you don’t always need venture capital fundraising. It also means that 1,000 “true” fans are worth more than 100,000 vaguely interested readers.

Also, I am female and I write about tech topics. And sadly, there still is a lot of bias and difficulty around that. I want this blog to be known as a relevant, interesting and valuable resource on LaTeX, the DH and surrounding topics. I don’t want to hear that people only read my blog because I’m a blonde or some other bullshit. I’d rather have a few real fans who actually engage with my content. Which I do already. Thanks a lot, everybody, by the way. Even to the quiet readers – who I was thrilled to learn – actually exist. (Engagement encouraged though 😉 )

The pseudonym I chose is not exactly feminine. Actually, I would expect a first time reader to expect a man behind it. I think that’s good. Well, no, not really, but you know what I mean. I don’t want to be evaluated differently because I’m a woman. I don’t want readers to be biased from the first time they read my blog. And they would be because, sadly, that’s just how bias works and we’re all biased. Women are seem as incompetent unless they prove otherwise (sometimes not even then) and men are seen as competent even if strong evidence points in the other direction. I don’t want to discuss this (at least not here – I discuss it frequently on other channels), but this is definitely also an underlying decision for me choosing this format I have chosen.

The Ninja: A Journey

This blog has been going on for a year. I need to think about how I want to go on. I want to get back into my schedule of posting every week (which is kind of working already). But I have also taken the time to update the categories now because I wanted an overview of topics and to see if they still match with the ‘brand image’ and ‘mission statement’ or ‘niche’ I have defined for myself. I think they do.

I was a bit short on time this summer. Still, I have posted most of what I wanted to talk about during the last year. I have some DH tutorials, some general thoughts, some (mostly CV) templates and some LaTeX posts. A future goal will be to work more actively (or rather: resume working more actively) on some sort of ‘curriculum’ a new LaTeX user can follow not only to learn enough to get going but also to systematically reach an ‘advanced level’. I have been promising you a post containing my definition of what this means for a long time, almost since I first started the blog. I hope I won’t let you wait much longer.

Short term, I want to add some more DH posts I’ve been wanting to do for a long time (many have been lying around as drafts for almost as long as this blog exists now). I also want to try to generally make my posts a little less long. On the one hand, this will help make them more readable for you, on the other hand, it will make it easier for me to keep up my regular posting schedule.

During this first year, I didn’t really need a plan. I just posted things I had wanted to write for a long time anyway. I had more than enough ideas. In fact, I still do. In the future, I want be more conscious of the balance in the different categories. Last year, there was a lot of LaTeX in the beginning, then a lot of ramblings and teaching over the summer semester, then lots of CV templates over the summer break I spent on a fellowship and then some more DH now. Maybe I’ll manage to mix up the topics a bit more in the time to come, so readers interested in only a certain topics, say either “LaTeX and not DH” or “DH but not LaTeX” all regularly get something interesting for them.

If you have any thoughts on this, want to request a tutorial or a subject or give feedback of any other kind – this is the moment 😉

Wish you a great next week,


the Ninja



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I like LaTeX, the Humanities and the Digital Humanities. Here I post tutorials and other adventures.

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