"Maybe someday you could continue Jerry Becker's email listserv." --David Webb, circa 2015

Dr. Jerry Becker died on April 16 at the age of 85, leaving behind his wife, three children, many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and a very useful set of email listservs. By way of my Ph.D., Dr. Becker is an academic great-uncle of mine, although I never had the pleasure of meeting him. I can't pretend to fill his shoes, but there is something I can do to continue in his tradition by providing a service similar to what he offered for so many years.

Today I'm announcing (Self-subscribe here.) It's an email distribution list to share the kinds of things people used to share through Dr. Becker: job openings, conference announcements, requests for articles for journal issues, and other items of interest to the mathematics education community. Instead of sending items to me, subscribers to the list can email the list address directly and I'll moderate items along that appear legitimate and useful. I'll tweak things along the way and, if there's demand for additional lists or services, I can consider offering them. The service is provided by an international GNU Mailman host. The software isn't flashy, but it works and isn't going anywhere. I may not live to 85 to keep hosting the list like Dr. Becker did, but I'll stick around as long as I can and I won't be surprised if Mailman sticks around that long, too.

So who am I and why am I doing this? I'm the mathematics specialist at the Colorado Department of Education, and prior to that I was a high school math teacher and a Ph.D. student at CU Boulder. Regardless if I was working in practice, research, or policy, I've been interested in the organization of education communities and how they communicate ideas. This includes professional organizations, Twitter, the Global Math Department, and forums like MyNCTM. Under the domain, I've blogged and maintained a wiki, and at one time spun up an experimental instance of a social network using free software. In my current role with CDE I operate the CoMath listserv, which has been in existence since 1995, and I help edit the Colorado Mathematics Teacher journal. My advisor, David Webb, made the comment above somewhat offhandedly partway through my graduate school experience and it's stuck in my head ever since. Dr. Becker didn't leave his listservs to a successor, and the subscription lists they contained are (as they should be) the private information of his university. But that doesn't mean we can't try starting anew to continue the old.

I've long believed that if mathematics teachers and educators are going to all be part of a professional community, it's going to take many different related sub-communities in many different forms, using different technologies, membership structures, languages, and different target audiences. We're too numerous to all huddle under one hashtag, and too smart to think that our ideas could—or should—fit in one place. Maybe others will start email list services of their own to meet a particular need, or find other ways to communicate. That would be excellent. The more the merrier. We all have a part in this, and my next part is to moderate a new email list. So if you have something to share, or need to have things shared with you, I'll be at waiting for you to subscribe and post your messages.