I many times get this question: “Why do you post?”. It is a fair question. In the past, I could have argued that posting helped my career. And, I think it actually did. Despite having a fair chair of publications and citations, it turns out that many people have known me because of some post or video I have published.

You might think that at this point in my career that is no longer true, but it turns out that is still the case. I was at a conference recently and someone who I was introduced to said “Oh! You are the Transformer Catalog guy!”. Pretty interesting that after so many years this blog post was what they knew me for. Actually, regarding that post, I even recetnly received a request to turn it into a journal submission, and it is already under review.

The real reason I post, and you should maybe too

Besides all of this though, there is something that has become apparent over the years and that keeps me hooked to posting: my posts help people, in all kinds of unsuspected ways! I know it sounds a bit hard to believe, but I do get such stories all the time. For example, you would not believe the amount of people that I have met over the years that told me that they learn about Recommender Systems in my 4-hour long Summer School Youtube video that has almost 40k views at this point (and, that I would not recommend at this point since it is a bit “old”).

Let me give you the last of such stories, which literally made my week/month recently. I will not reveal names or details becuase I have not cleared that with the people involved, but if it’s you reading this, feel free to raise your hand.

I was at a Generative AI event in SF last week (one of the two events I get invited to every week, btw). There were a lot of interesting GenAI startups, and people in general. At one point I got introduced to the founder/CEO of a GenAI startup. It is one of those “hot” startups (are there any non hot GenAI startups?) with a pretty decent early investment from investors of high pedigree. When this founder heard my name though, he stopped and said: “I have something important to thank you for.” I was surprised, but I thought he was going to talk about his cofounder, who I know pretty well. But, no, he was talking about himself! “I am in AI thanks to you.” Wait, what? I didn’t even know they guy. So, this required some explanation. Here it is:

It turns out that when this person was first getting into AI/ML, they applied for an internship. The internship was declined at first because they did not have the appropriate background/experience. However, my new cocktail party friend found an obscure post of mine (I think it’s this Quora answer on ALS). They implemented the algorithm and went back to the internship hiring manager. The hiring manager was impressed, and they got accepted. Not only that, it turned out most of their internship simply involved getting the ALS algorithm to work, which they had already done as part of the interview, so the whole internship was a huge success. One thing led to another, and they are now the founder of a successful GenAI startup!

Hearing stories like this one not only make me smile and be happy, but also give me the energy to continue posting. If you have a story like this, I would love to hear!