Welcome to the course blog for Math 115F: Cryptography, the first-year writing seminar I teach from time to time at Vanderbilt University. This semester is one of those times, and I'm looking forward to exploring the history and mathematics of codes and ciphers with another group of first-years.

Here's the syllabus for this fall's offering of the course. You'll want to read through it carefully. You'll also need to do a few other things to get started as a student in the course.

  1. Obtain copies of the three texts we'll use this semester: The Code Book by Simon Singh (Anchor, 1999), Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson (Avon, 1999), and Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (Tor, 2008). Please note that Little Brother is available as a free download from the author's website.
  2. Activate your account here on the course blog, which is powered by WordPress. I'll send you an email with a link to do so tomorrow after class. As noted in the syllabus, you'll be blogging regularly as part of this course. Once your account is activated, read through these instructions for authoring WordPress posts. I'll give you your first blogging assignment soon.
  3. Sign up for an account on Diigo, the social bookmarking service. Once you have an account, request to join the Math 115F Diigo group, where we'll be sharing news articles, websites, and other online resources relevant to the course. I'll let you know your first social bookmarking assignment soon, too.

Two important points about the blog and Diigo: One is that if you need any help using these digital platforms, just ask. The other is that you're welcome to use a pseudonym on either platform. Your blog posts and Diigo bookmarks will be on the open Web, meaning anyone could see them. You might want your name attached to them as a way to start building a digital footprint that represents you well. Or you might prefer a little more anonymity for your work in this course. Your choice. If you use a pseudonym, however, you'll need to tell me what it is so that I can give you credit for your blog posts and bookmarks.

Image: "Welcome" sierraromeo, Flickr (CC)