Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How did you travel 2010

Frequently, happily, idylically as well as troubled. There were many journeys.
France was sublime, canal boating sublimer... not a word? Tell it to someone who cares.
And with the ANT research, I travel slowly, which is just the way it is supposed to be according to Latour.
Today i travelled between collateral realities and sensitive research.
Maybe tomorrow is soon enough to check out skype or icq or my groupwise email, meantime, I am having to travel in restricted well.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Beyond avoidance

I've avoided being honest when i know it would hurt, truth without empathy is not a virtue.

Ive also avoided going mad; a phd and fulltime work is majorly taxing.

And Ive avoided finishing the PhD.
Ive avoided managing my time with deadlines. I know they are elastic so why would I?
However, i would quite like my life back now.
Ive avoided strategies that are available, but will use at least once in January. If i make a statement such as this, is it any more likely to occur- i dont know. Ive not tried it before :)
We will see.
I will use 1. the unorganizer to do an accounting of my use of time
2. the writeordie website where writing inside a square can be either time limited or word count limited.

I have meantime avoided the garden; a phd and a garden are incompatable.
I struggle a bit in avoiding guilt. Not of the garden, but of exercise and well cooked meals and of being there for otherss.
The body may recover, the family seem tolerant. I avoid talking to them too much on the content, but it seems it consumes me and spills from every pore, every day. I suspect they would like it done with too...

My biggest regret will be if the methodology section is not done by Dec 31. I work and work and work it, and i feel done over with it, but its still got a little way to go. It is the first time i have attempted a personally set deadline and it frustrates me that the work seems to have its own ideas on what is needed. Resistance seems futile. What it takes is what it takes, i've already put down my clever to pick up my ordinary on this.

What am i unsure of?
Will it/I be good enough? Ive never written a methodology before; am i doing whats wanted? Will a rewrite be required? Its not stopping me though, the learning is useful. When i write, I learn.

This blogpost is in response to the Reverb10 prompt for 20th Dec.
Reverb involves a pledge to write every day: because writing makes you better at it.
I hope so :)
What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Lesson learned

When you hit someone with a brick, it doesnt't make them prettier.

Im glad my friend is still alive.
Tears as i write this, prickles of salt dry under my eyes.
I am tied by etiquettes of silence; its not my story to tell.

But in the silence is also learning; connections to a future, I know now what i will never do:
I will never hit someone with a brick and expect it to make for better performance.
Do not confuse my silence with absence.

Cartographies of Silence
The technology of silence
The rituals, etiquette
the blurring of terms
silence not absence
of words or music or even
raw sounds
Silence can be a plan
rigorously executed
the blueprint to a life
It is a presence
it has a history a form
Do not confuse it
with any kind of absence
–Adrienne Rich,

This blog was brought about by the following post about staying away from the whine and producing better wine...
In wanting to improve writing: write.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

innovations own seeds of destruction

What innovation does:

Everything we invent, Marshall Macluhan concluded, has four essential effects:

€ First, each invention enhances or exaggerates the body part or faculty of which it is an extension. Thus, the car allows us to "run" faster and farther, thereby shrinking our experience of physical distance. Cars created suburbs and ‹ because we climb into them and wear them like skin ‹ they also create private space in public places.
€ Second, each invention obsolesces an old technology by replacing it with a new one. Thus, just as the telegraph displaced hand-carried messages, telephones displaced the telegraph, thereby shortening time and contributing to the immediacy McLuhan called the "global village".
€ Third, each new invention retrieves something old by using it in a new way. Thus, the first content of television became old movies, thereby inviting a nostalgia by rekindling our reflection of the past. TV has also rekindled our interest in nature by bringing it ever more vividly into our living rooms. Cities have inspired a romance with nature.
€ Fourth, when pushed to the limit, each new invention reverses the effect for which it was intended. Thus, the car, which was supposed to eliminate the horse manure that polluted 19th century cities, has now rendered some cities nearly uninhabitable because of toxic air emissions. And suburbia has created the traffic gridlock that increasingly renders car travel impossible.

Each of our inventions "massages" us into a new shape, changing how we think and behave. We become what we make. "You shape your tools and they shape you," McLuhan said. "It's a loop ‹ you start out a consumer and you wind up being consumed."

But its more than context that makes this Latour notes, only sociology seems to get away with blaming the social on the social.

So the seeds of destruction are built in to the object...
We invent cars...i want one, get one, use one...and so does everone else...we have to pay for them, drive to work, manufacture the traffic jam...more time driving less time working to pay for the car...and i find myself in a mobius strip...consumed by consumerism.
Its not 'the social' that creates this havoc...its collected beings, human and otherwise making it so.

I like to be in contact, i take to email...i get 10 a day, no sweat, 20 a day many a day before being overwhelmed...30-50? And then i stop looking...i dont want to i switch media...i go to blog...but get spam..facebook...twitter but before i know it there's too much junk there too... want to gain my attetion?
quaint...write me a letter :)
they are so rare now
i would open it

How to finish the phd in 10 easy steps; Levelling up one chapter at a time

If this is the answer what was the question, post number 2.

Getting a phd is mighty time consuming and i want my life back.
And compared to facing a line up like the one above, my getting educated should be a walk in the park.

So I have:
1. Done the maths, counted up whats written, yay80,000 already (some thesis are this short!!!) but im still some chapters, bother. I need, Im guessing, but i have aword limit... 20,000 words: two and a half chapters in two months, 60 days if i keep 10 up my sleeve for having a life...before the next semester starts and work gets in the way...if i only write 182 words a day, current average, then the 20000 words i still need are going to take too damn long.
Time to get serious about levelling up. It is only 333 words a day...
2. Redownloaded the phd toolkit- includes chart for unscheduling time so i can 'fit it in' - the phd. And read all the affirmations and anti-procrastination info the toolkit provides
3. Look at #phd and #phdchat on twitter so i dont feel alone; checked today's 'group' time on GMT and participated :) heh is this getting in the way of writing...being connected, find myself smiling lots in the not procrastination, i feel happier about the phd...
4. Looked at the photos of UK student protests fighting to be educated and realise i have nothing to complain about. Trebled student fees makes a PHD cost how much, jaw dropping open...9000 pound a yr... Blood on the faces of students for Gods sake... More procrastination? Strong motivator. Education is wasted on me? NOOOO!
5. Set up the working space, feet up, laptop, books in arms reach, cats on their own chair. Put nurofen gel on the wrist and kept it within arms reach, put the hand splint similarly within arms reach.
6. Googled writing methodology chapters to check I'm not going astray, as well as rechecking the book i have on helping Doctoral students write by Kamler and Thomson (not that useful on this bit, but sstill always good for the way they write) And reread articles by Lankshear and Knobel on the ambiguity of methodology, plus another on ethnography by Agar
Checklist time:
Is the methodology chapter a logical progression from question? YES.
From lit review? YES
Is the chapter a synopsis of what research method has been chosen or a critique as well???MMM Not sure. Think I'll do the synopsis then in next chapter look at how i talk it down to earth. OK tim eto move on.
7. Set achievable goals. Chunk it down. Made the decision to 'level up' by months end; to finish the methodology chapter...just a few subsections to go...thats 10 days...with 5 days for socialising (heh its christmas) and for editing it....or if i fall behind...and i figure this chapter has so far addressed= 4/5 ANT uncertainties...the 5th has some accrued notes, ...then need to ensure performativity, reflexivity and multiplicity are covered if not done seriously enough in 5th section...and maybe arts based research or allegory...if not in the aforementioned bits..
8. Check in to write or die, if/when i get really desperate, and if i ever stop blogging...there's a free online writing box set the word limit, set the timer...
Time to seriously get down to the business of being an educated person
9. I still have the writers diet up my sleeve. Is your writing flabby, useful for editing, given i think i might write too much...good site for writing in a more direct way, how to take out those extraneous words.

and too busy writing to try to think up extra steps just for rounding up the list feel free to add your own :)
...see you when write or die has finished with me :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

If this is the answer, what was the question?

In a reverse of what most quiz shows do, Jeopardy gives the answer, and asks contestants “What is the question?”

“What question was this device designed to answer?”

Mr Watson come here- I want to see you

A landline:
Over time the question shifts:
Is so and so there?
Can they talk with me?
A negotiation
I'd like you to stop what you are doing and talk with me
I want to be with you; together and apart

A mobile:
1992, Dec 3, a three week early naf merry christmas that went unnoticed
I'm writing you a note, it's a message you can look at or not.
And overtime this also shifts, the message is for you, it's for you because a mobile is personal
I have your attention, attend to me.
Manage it
But just because it's short and succinct does not make it impetuous. There is opportunity for review.
I want you to attend to me.
Digital traces of attending, of gaining attention and of being connected.
Digital traces of connecting.
And at not too much cost. The effort can be masked, I dont want ot presume to much, I dont want to appear overly interested...Im a casual kind of medium, the cost is minimal whether financial or emotional.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Education's reigning error

Why do students fail?
And closer to home for me personally as a student:Why do phd students fail?
I have a friend, heh more than one, and I see that their phds have failed them.
What happened?
The ducks didn't get in line; was it a lack of duck flocking skills, or their duck herding skills? Os a combination of the two? Perhaps a weakness in superglue...
Somehow getting the ducks in a line, and keeping them aligned and recording the process of said alignment, all in a way that would make meaning for others, gathering in the supervisor, the marker, the reader, all didn't come to pass.

At this point I recommend reading Machiavelli's The Prince.
Should be compulsory reading for any Phd student intent on completion.
(And it's freely available from the Gutenberg press, and it's a very short little read for a book that is timeless. Machiavelli certainly got a lot of bad press for a book that is basically about winning friends and influencing people. The moral compass is in the hands of the reader.)

I've just been reading some Actor-networking by John Law (2010) on research methods, and there is an overlap point well worth making in regard to seeing what you expect to see in education. He cites Robert k Merton on "the reign of error".
And there is scope for addressing this in regard to education.

Robert K. Merton elevated the principle into what he called the ‘‘reign of error’’.
Banks fail,he said, because people first wrongly think that they will, but then this definition of the situation become true. STS writers Donald MacKenzie and Barry Barnes have shown how this may happen, for instance in finance. But I also think the point needs to be reworked. Methods, it seems to me are potentially more profoundly self fulfilling than Merton’s talk of the "reign of error" might suggest.

And here's what happens in education, the self fulfilling prophecies become embedded in consciousness, girls cant do hard sciences etc etc...
I knew physics was going to be hard...and it was.
And here's a link demonstrating it
When a teacher told me "everyone in this class can pass maths" ...I did
When my phd supervisor tells me i write well, my confidence is boosted, i write more...and i write well :)
Or so I'm told.
And so I continue.

When I see a colleague hit with a brick because performance isn't great, I see something much less pretty occur. Being hit with a brick does not make things prettier or more effective...
It's not rocket science. It's much more important than that.

Law, J. (2010, 31 August- 3 September). The double social life of method. Paper presented at the meeting of the Sixth Annual CRESC conference on the Social Life of Method, St Hugh's College, Oxford, England. Retrieved from

Machiavelli, N., &. (1998). The Prince: Retrieved August 19, 2010, from Project Gutenberg, (Original work published 1532).