Picture of Robert Dawson

In your hands you hold — or don’t —  the first all-electronic issue of the CMS Notes. After fifty years, during which the Notes has evolved from a typed and photocopied newsletter to the professionally-produced publication that you’re familiar with, the paper version has been retired.

I’ve been expecting this for some time. Printing and mailing cost money, and I imagine that it’s a rare CMS member who reads their copy of the Notes more than once. Archivists and librarians call such publications “ephemera”, and electronic publication suits them very well indeed. Online, they are easy to read, easy to delete once read, and easy to call up again should you ever wish to.

The biggest argument against this step, brought up at many Publication Committee meetings over the years, was that the paper copy, left around the mathematics common room, would familiarize junior faculty with the fact that there was something called the Canadian Mathematical Society that did interesting things. I don’t think that argument ever lost its validity – it just became weaker in comparison to the financial argument. So please, if there’s an article or review in the Notes that you think a nonmember colleague would enjoy, send them a link – ideally, to the whole issue.

Hands holding mobile phone with Newsletter

However, I see a truly positive side to this. Paperless publication gives us a flexibility that we didn’t use to have. We can use colour more freely. We can potentially use embedded video clips or sound (we promise not to abuse this ability!) And we have more flexibility in terms of length – if somebody sends us an unsolicited article, or an unusually long review, we don’t have to wonder where the pages are going to come from.

So that comes down to you – do you have a Notes article in you? Think of the sort of things that appear in the Mathematical Intelligencer (not the more research-oriented material) or the MAA magazines.  Canadian content is a plus, controversy not ruled out. Try to keep it short, because while bits are free, our readers’ time is not unlimited.

We’ve had, for some time, two columns that have run mainly on submitted material – Education Notes and Research Notes. Please give special consideration to anything you could submit for these; they are, I think, popular with many of our readers, and we’d like to hear about your special research topic or teaching thought.

Finally, Crux Mathematicorum has already gone virtual, and so can also take a wider range of submissions. Crux has always taken problems and articles about problem solving; its scope will, we hope, now expand to include recreational mathematics articles in the Martin Gardner vein. Anything in that line, at a level comprehensible by a bright high school student, should be sent there.