Liebster Blog Award: 5 blogs you should check out

Liebster Blog Award

Recently, my neighbor gave me a Liebster Blog Award. This is actually my second one, but I had not yet claimed the first one, under the rules of acceptance of the award. I’ve had difficulty finding the origin of this award and the official documentation of the award, but from what I can tell, the rules are that I must give the award to five other bloggers who have fewer than 200 followers:

So here goes, starting with identifying the two people who gave me the award:

The two who gave me an award

Dana: Dana is a Geek

The first person to give me the Liebster award is a Pittsburgh local, Dana, who is actually inadvertently responsible for my getting into social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, through her talk on HootSuite at PodCamp Pittsburgh 5, in 2010. I still use HootSuite to this day. I also stopped by her talk yet again last year at PodCamp Pittsburgh 6 for a refresher, and it was actually after that when I finally decided to get serious about Twitter:

Dana gave me the award back in November, but I was crazy busy then and decided to put off the hard work of properly accepting the award; that task went deep into my stack of to-do items, but has finally been taken out of the stack!

Dana, like me, started blogging in earnest after PodCamp Pittsburgh 6. She writes on a variety of topics, including the cool activities she does with her kids, comments on current events she feels strongly about, and reflections on learning and living.

Becca: The Earthling’s Handbook

Becca is my next-door neighbor. She gave me the award just over a week ago, not knowing that I already had been given the award (but not yet accepted it!). After that, there was no way I could postpone indefinitely my acceptance of the award.

Becca writes about all kinds of things she cares about, including her journey as she raises her son, her family’s experiments in healthy and tasty cooking, and her commitment to an environmentally sound way of living.

Criteria for choosing five blogs to give the Liebster award to

I’ve postponed choosing five blogs to give the Liebster award to because of the constraints. I follow a good number of blogs, but most of them are quite popular and probably have a lot more than 200 followers. Nobody knows exactly how many followers a blog has, but I understand that the spirit of the award is to give it to people whose blogs are not so widely followed. I don’t necessarily know whether a particular blog is widely followed, but I’ll go by my gut feel of how popular a blog might be (based on number of comments, whether the site also has mailing lists, etc.).

I also have in mind that ideally I should pick blogs that my readers are likely to find useful and read. However, my readers have diverse interests, so I should pick blogs that give at least some representation of the different interests, e.g., I shouldn’t pick blogs just dedicated to Pittsburgh or software development.

Also I’ve chosen blogs that are pretty active or hope to encourage to become more active.

Five blogs for you to check out

Outside My Window

This local blog is very active, and written by Kate St. John, who apparently works at WQED in Pittsburgh. I have never met her, but enjoy her blog because she posts photos all the time of nature, especially birds and trees, along with interesting information and musings of hers. Following her blog is like following the local seasons. If you live in our part of the country, you should definitely subscribe to her blog and get a daily treat!

Andrew Cox

This is a local personal blog by Andrew Cox, a software developer whom I must have first encountered probably no more than a year or so ago, at a Pittsburgh Ruby meeting. Amusingly, I got to know him better largely through his blog and Twitter, although nowadays I run into him often in the Pittsburgh software developer user group scene.

It turns out we have various interests in common beyond being practicing software developers. Andrew is passionate about both learning and teaching in the most general sense. We also pursue health and fitness experiments to improve ourselves. He writes about all these subjects.

Andrew tends not to post on his blog very often, but usually when he does, he writes long, substantial articles that deserve close reading. So subscribe to his blog, and when he isn’t posting, check out his archives too.

Well, I’m Back

This personal blog is written by Rob O’Callahan, an old computer science classmate of mine. He is from New Zealand and loves it so much that he moved back sometime after coming to the United States for grad school and work. He has strong opinions about everything and writes about many things, including his working for Mozilla as a practicing advocate of open Web standards and browsers, technical tidbits, comments on culture, and his outings at home, complete with the breathtaking photos that are why I enjoy following his blog.

Even before meeting Rob long ago, I’d always wanted to visit New Zealand, but seeing his photos regularly keeps reminding me that Abby and I must go some day.

Software Carpentry

This blog is very active, and written by Greg Wilson (whom I do not know), the project lead for the Software Carpentry project, whose goal is to help scientists (and others who are not professional software developers) learn and improve their software development skills.

What makes Software Carpentry special is the strong emphasis on actually making use of empirical educational research, trying out ideas to see if they work, and maintaining an open source philosophy of sharing and building community.

I follow this blog because I have a long-term interest in helping non-specialists learn computer science and programming. Especially given the very recent craze over Codecademy and other “learn to code” initiatives, I think it is very important to be informed on what insights people who have been teaching programming for many years now have to offer.

I don’t know how many followers this blog has, and therefore whether it qualifies under the terms of the Liebster Award, but I’m going to assume that it should be read more than it is, by anyone who cares about the hard task of bringing computational fluency to everyone who can benefit from it, not just those studying for a computer science degree.


This is a very active blog by Cathy O’Neil, who is a mathematician (formerly in academia and formerly in a hedge fund), a mother, an activist. She writes about whatever is on her mind. She has strong opinions and sometimes uses strong language. Much of what she writes about has a quantitative bent, e.g., her explorations of economics, finance (including her involvement with Occupy Wall Street), programming with Python and R; but she has also written about being a female geek and math education.

If you like real-time exploration of serious issues, and don’t mind seeing strong opinions (especially political) you may or may not agree with, check out her blog!


Upon deciding on five blogs to bestow the Liebster award on, I hereby finally accept the Liebster award for myself, and I thank all of you who read my blog and hope you check out the blogs I have recommended! (I also hope the recipients come up with their own lists for us all to check out.)

comments powered by Disqus