13:51 11/06/2004 Mathemagenic: Mathemagenic
Mathemagenic
...giving birth to learning...
        

Mathemagenic

  Friday, December 31, 2004


  The blank page

It's a pity that my camera is broken and I can't share images of Moscow in the snow... It's a perfect weather: -5, almost no wind, large snowflakes falling slowly, New Year lights... And on the top of it fresh orange juice, free WiFi, jazzy music at Moscow-Roma, end-of-the-year thinking and curious anticipation of 2005...

It was a good year, the one that is almost over: lots of changes, travelling and fun. Year of growth, both personally and professionally. Year of adventures, year of meeting people and turning online connections into joint work.

As the year before 2004 was a year of passion and no work-life balance, with blending fun and work into exciting and rewarding mix.

Funny enough, now I want more balance. It's not about "work-life balance" since my work is part of my life and I don't want to draw lines in between. It's about something else.

Passion can take you far away, shake your world and turn it upside down. Often between excitement of discovery and fun of making things happend there is no time for doing nothing, relaxing, slowing down, letting ideas submerge and transform, creating a space for silence, emptiness and things waiting to emerge.

This is something that I'd like to learn in 2005: not being driven by passions all the time, letting things go, slowing down and creating welcoming empty spaces. My own definition of balance :)

And, for all of you, close and far away, I wish dreams that come true. Start of a new year is good for it - the blank page gives us the right to dream, isn't it?


  Free WiFi in Moscow

Moscow is getting wireless: Yandex (Russian search engine & more) provides free WiFi in restaurants, clubs and other places where you may want to get connected. So far Moscow is pretty well represented, but other cities are catching up as well.

The growing list is at Yandex.WiFi. In case you don't understand any Russian, check Moscow free WiFi at Plazes (although there are only two plazes there - those where I had my favourite WiFi+FreshOrangeJuice combo :)

More on: travel 

  Sunday, December 26, 2004


  40 questions about 2004

Following Liz Lawley and Jack Vinson I think of my year in 40 answers...

  1. What did you do in 2004 that you'd never done before?
    Paragliding. BlogWalking. Getting divorced.
  2. Did you keep your New Years resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
    I did - it was about joint actions with other passionate people. I will - it will be about balance. 
  3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
    My cousin. Some of my colleagues.
  4. Did anyone close to you die?
    The Fish.
  5. What countries did you visit?
    Did a lot of travelling in Europe. Most memorable are discoveries of Portugal and Italy, and coming to UK with return visit after my first time abroad 10 years back.
  6. What would you like to have in 2005 that you lacked in 2004?
    More time before alarm clock goes on (ah, so unrealistic :)
  7. What date from 2004 will remain etched upon your memory?
    November 5.
  8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
    Not being afraid to step out of my comfort zone.
  9. What was your biggest failure?
    Not sure I had big failures, but lots of small dissappointments. The biggest of small dissappointments is that I still have to learn to get rid of things I do not need. Thought it would be easier :) 
  10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
    No
  11. What was the best thing you bought?
    TravelMate
  12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
    Two people born 10 March with a 10 year difference deciding to marry their loved ones in 2004 :)
  13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
    Terrorists
  14. Where did most of your money go?
    Travel and presents
  15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
    Finding out that I'll become an aunt.
  16. What song/album will always remind you of 2004?
    First album of my best friend.
  17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
    • happier or sadder?  happier 
    • thinner or fatter?  have no idea :) 
    • richer or poorer?  more or less the same
  18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
    Going to the gym. Spending time with friends. 
  19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
    Spending money :)
  20. How will you be spending Christmas?
    [I guess for me it's about New Year since it's selebrated more than Christmas in Russia]. My family, dacha, steam sauna, snow... Warm in the middle of cold :)
  21. Who did you spend the most time on the phone with?
    My mother
  22. Did you fall in love in 2004?
    Yes
  23. How many one night stands in this last year?
    None
  24. What was your favourite TV programme?
    Extreme engineering
  25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
    No, don't think hate makes anything better.  
  26. What was the best book(s) you read?
    The Samurai's Garden
  27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
    Not sure I had great ones... 
  28. What did you want and get?
    Love.
  29. What did you want and not get?
    Light notebook paid from my work (had to get it myself :) 
  30. What were your favourite films of this year?
    The Last Samurai
  31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
    29. Decided to do it differently, took flight to Italy and had a beautiful evening in Florence. 
  32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
    I'm very happy with what I've got.
  33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2004?
    "Lady in red": everything between little girl and business woman in a range of pink, red and cherry :) 
  34. What kept you sane?
    Hope.
  35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
    I fancy real people - those around me :)
  36. What political issue stirred you the most?
    US elections. 
  37. Who did you miss?
    My family and friends in Moscow (despite that this year I was there more than usual). 
  38. Who was the best new person you met?
    Hard to make choices...
  39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2004.
    Taking risks pays back.
  40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year?

Pink it's my new obsession
Pink it's not even a question,
Pink on the lips of your lover, 'cause
Pink is the love you discover

Pink as the bing on your cherry
Pink 'cause you are so very
Pink it's the color of passion
'Cause today it just goes with the fashion

More on: life 

  Wednesday, December 22, 2004


  Disconnected or How to contact me over coming month?

It's just one day left to work, one day before my travels start.

It's going to be a crazy month: I start from flying to Moscow on 24th December and come back from US 24 January. I'll be on the move, sometimes connected, sometimes not. I have no idea if I'll blog and how much, I have no idea if Radio will work reliably (which it never does when I travel :).

Because our office relocates together with all our servers I will not be able to check my work email from tomorrow till 3 January. If you need me at that time, please, mail to my Gmail account or use this form.

I may appear on MSN/Skype, but don't count on it. If you think you may need my mobile phone number, ask by email.

In case you want to know my travel plans: first Moscow, than various places in US.

Actually I want to write nice "end-of-the-year" post with reflections, future outlook and warm words, but unfortunately the only thing I could think right now is PACKING.


Do you know that in Russia Christmas is celebrated on 7th January?

:) 

More on: life travel 

  Tuesday, December 21, 2004


  A bit of reflection on personal information management

It's a bit crazy over here. Finishing work and packing everything at work as our office moves to another building over Christmas... Was going through old paper archives, throwing away lots of paper and thinking about strange ways I do personal information management.

  • I'm not tree-friendly at all: I've got lots of printouts. Many of them are from stuff I have digitally as well. Sometimes I find multiple copies of the same document (= I wasn't able to find it and printed again).
  • I'm not good at throwing away papers when they feel related to my current work (even old papers) - somehow deciding if I should keep them or not takes too much energy and (as storage is not a big issue) I just keep them till my work switches to something else.
  • It's difficult to get rid of papers I have emotional relation (for example, drafts of my PhD proposals 2 years ago). I guess I just keep them till emotional connection fades away :)
  • I'm not very good putting papers into folders. If I do, there are some regularities:
    • Most of my old folders are project based. Usually I remember papers I used for a project, so I know where to find them.
    • Most of my current folders are topic-based. I wonder why.
  • I guess many my strategies of working with information could be described as "survival of the fittest" - somehow I hope that important things would come back to me and remind about themselves (and this could explain why I'm so bad answering emails :)

What is really funny is that for a researcher doing work on personal knowledge/information management I'm pretty bad with organising things myself (those who saw my desktop at home know :). Doing research makes me well aware of many things I do in a strange way, but doesn't help much in changing my habits (actually the opposite - often I can come up with "objective" justifications why mess on my desk is so important :)

One more strange observation - just added someone's blog to Bloglines in order to remember to contact the person to arrange for a meeting when I'm in Amsterdam beginning of next year. It's such a simple task (arrange a meeting with person X when you are in place Y around moment Z and have some free time), but somehow I can't find anything better than Bloglines to remind me about it :)))


  Monday, December 20, 2004


  Refactoring in the backstage

Last Friday I was feeling a bit quilty when I blogged instead of finishing the report I was supposed to finish (one of the things I like about blogging that it helps me to make space for important even if urgent is pressing not to ;).

Now, getting online after an offline weekend and discovering thoughtful comments from close colleagues and distant readers, I don't have any traces of that quilty feeling. Once more I feel how rewarding sharing your uncertainties with others could be... It will take time to digest comments and even more time to react, since urgent is still there ready to claim time...

And, on the meta level, this reminds me of a metaphor of Giuseppe Granieri that Riccardo brings commenting on my post about finding time to blog:

Lilia refers to blogging as a new, value adding, way to do things: thus it becomes just a different tool to organize your thoughts, daylife, research, whatever. In this sense asking how much of your time does blogging require is exactly as asking how much of your time does breathing require?

Giuseppe instead chose to refer to blogging as a "batch" process, building up and refactoring in the backstage of our mind 24 hours a day, and requiring "practically" just those few seconds needed to actually write down the post.

I guess it's more: when you blog something you may trigger others' thinking on the issue, so then your own "refactoring in the backstage" gets connected with ideas of others, making the whole process more powerful and more rewarding.

More on: blog writing 

  Friday, December 17, 2004


  Hard choices: researcher vs. blogger?

There is something that bothers me for a couple of weeks... First, a bit of history...

One of the comments I recieved from Inna Kouper on weblog conversation paper was about my involvement in it, the fact that as a researcher I could influence the conversation if I knew I was going to study it. I realised that Inna was right and included a statement that when the conversation was unfolding I wasn't going to study it.

Now I have to confess that it's not 100% true - somewhere in the middle of the conversation Aldo suggested to do a study on weblog conversations and I brought that particular case as an example. Although we didn't make a choice for the case at that moment, we made a decision to study weblog conversations. And there is even evidence in my own blog:

I guess this conversation (and especially it's hidden part) is a good example of tensions between "thinking together" and "doing together" as well as tensions between private and shared. To give you a feeling of the hidden part: some of the invisible activities related to this conversation (hope nobody gets angry about the disclosure):

  • [...]
  • me talking about this whole story with a colleague from another university resulting in our decision to study if/how weblog conversations (do not) support actions

I don't know if that decision influenced my participation in the conversation. Did it bring additional degree of reflection? For example, would I post this summary of hidden activities if not that talk with Aldo? Don't know... Probably I would, since it was a logical way to continue my thinking on hidden agenda, but there is no way to know.

At that moment I didn't think about this issue - I just continued to participate in the conversation regardless the fact that it could get back to me as a case. Now it's different: I became more aware of "me as a blogger" and "me as a researcher".

So, as a result two weeks back I was struggling with another choice. I saw an interesting conversation unfolding, I wanted to participate, but I also thought that it would be a great "another case" to add to our paper since we discussed some future work with Aldo. Those two seemed to contradict: as a blogger I wanted to participate, as a researcher I knew that a better choice would be to stay away, so I could claim more objectivity in a future analysis.

The only thing that saved me from writing at that moment was the fact that I was too busy to find time for writing :)

Now I probably should be happy with it, since it feels too late to contribute and I can safely study the conversation (although, I'm not 100% safe as the work we did with Stephanie was reffered to at several moments, so I managed to influence the conversation even without direct participation :)

The funny thing is that I'm not happy with it, because next to being a researcher, I'm a blogger. Deciding not to contribute because it makes easier to justify my research changes my usual behaviour and influences conversation anyway (Monica said once that once you are a member of the community silence is a participation).

Anyway, I'm in trouble. I combine researching blogs and blogging research. I study my own community and I write about it. It's a strange case of action research, where not only reflections are shared and shape the future, but also meta-reflections (like this one :). I will have hard time to justify it anyway...

So, I guess instead of making hard choices I'd allow myself to be myself doing heavily participative research that influence everything I study. It feels more authentic than making certain choices because it's easier to justify my findings at the end. I hope that I'm explicit enough about what I do as a researcher.

At the end I'm just one of the players in the community, so would be stupid to think that it goes in particular direction because of my influences. I'm just playing my role, which happens to be a researcher who blogs about research of own blogging community :)))

Related reading: Chapter 3 "Reflexivity and participation in Online Games" from Torill's dissertation.


  Thursday, December 16, 2004


  Stellingen

Stellingen are propositions that go with a PhD thesis according to the Dutch academic traditions. Those propositions are not a summary of a dissertation, but (I think :) rather a set of statements characterising a PhD-to-be and his or her values/thinking/reflections in relation to the work done.

Of course, it's a bit early for my own PhD (still 2 years to go), but I feel like starting to work on my own stellingen.

At this moment it's not about personal KM at all, it's about my relation with my PhD research...

Read Stellingen >>

More on: PhD writing 

  Reading on personal information management

Was sifting through my bookmarks/blog/paper collections on personal information management for a workshop... Found some papers I haven't seen before and finally got a bit better feel for PIM research
(at least between CSCW/HCI crowd).

I'm going to blog some papers, but if you don't want to wait check PIM+papers del.icio.us bookmarks

And, an overview of PIM challenges from Personal Information Management Group Report by William Jones and David Maier:

  • Information is fragmented; so too, is the study of PIM
  • How do we capture information from our lives away from the computer (and other electronic devices)?
  • How do we keep others from capturing and disseminating our information?
  • Where do the bits and pieces go?
  • Who owns the information in the workplace?
  • How can an employee's knowledge of the information space be captured for later use?
  • How do we know what is working and what isn't?
  • How can we make more effective use of existing tools and technology?

A lot of these applies to personal KM as well (and don't ask me about relations between PIM and PKM, read the role of information in knowledge sharing instead :) My favourite piece at the moment:

Evaluation of new PIM tools and techniques is very difficult for a number of reasons: a.) the tool/technique may help with one aspect of PIM but hinder others. It is necessary to evaluate the overall effect of a tool/technique on an individual’s ability to manage information. b.) PIM tools/techniques cannot be easily evaluated in a laboratory setting. Management of information occurs against a backdrop of other information and everyday tasks. A synthetic benchmark or common information collection can’t very well play the role of an arbitrary subject’s personal information space. c.) People adapt and their needs change. An accurate picture of a tool or technique’s utility emerges only over an extended period of evaluation.


  Wednesday, December 15, 2004


  Writing: three words

From What we write and why by Michael Benton, Alan Clinton, Davin Heckman, Subhash Jaireth, Marc Ouellette, and Matthew Wolf-Meyer

1:

<4> There are three words that can be invoked to illuminate the urge that compels me to write. The first word is respons(e)/ibility. It seems that I, like many others who write, situate myself within Socratic tradition according to which our place is also in the Agora and the bazaar, the places from and in which we can participate in the "great" symposium of humanity. By doing this we become the constituents and the constitutors of the public sphere, one of the important features of which -- that which sustains it as public sphere, to borrow Habermas's words -- is democratic and social communication. One of the essential conditions to maintain such communication is to feel responsible to respond, hence the word respons(e)/ibility. I feel responsible to respond to utterances, speaking(s), writing(s) and acting(s) by other participants. The need of a meaningful communication asks from me, to paraphrase one of Bakhtin's central themes, not only to listen and read but also to speak and write. By adding my voice to the cacophony of voices I try to unsettle the power/knowledge relations that operate within [dominate] the public sphere.

2:

<7> The second word is translation, understood both as "rendering" and "movement." Each time I write, I find myself translating (rendering, moving to and fro) some one else's ideas, concepts, thoughts, and images (the already written, read and seen) into my ideas and images. To a large extent this is because I am confronted with the given-ness of verbal and non-verbal languages. I continually move between langue and parole, between the oral and the written, and vice versa. I continually traverse the routes from the visible (the seen and the shown) to the verbal and vice versa. As if, to use de Certeau's image, I walk and talk at the same time, as if talking/writing would always take me to other places. But writing as translation also tells me that each event of translation is associated with a certain degree of refraction. Like rays of light, ideas, images and thoughts bend, get refracted, change their trajectory. It is, as if, however careful one may not be when one pours water from one jar to another some of it is always spilt.

3:

<12> The third word is reflexive. Metaphorically it means to be able to carry a mirror that would make the bearer aware of the world behind him/her, the cultural and cognitive topography of one's location, which on the one hand helps one to say what she/he want to say but simultaneously limits what can be said. It also means that one is always interrogating his/her own project. This interrogation of what one has written and is in the process of writing doesn't have to be outside the writing. The writing, the text, has to make the reader conscious of this reflexive, the sideways, glance by foregrounding it. Preference, then, should be for writing that reflects the anxiety, the tension and the unsettledness of writing.

From editorial of Winter 2003 issue of Reconstruction (which also calls for papers on blogging). 

More on: blog research writing 

  What if...

What if I wouldn't have to work on all the things I have to work and would have as much time for blogging as I like?

What if I could follow those interesting links, read all unread stuff in bloglines, comment to all interesting posts, write myself, write on all topics that come as "would be nice to blog", write pieces that would connect bits and pieces from other weblogs and have time to craft writing?

Would it change anything?

Probably not. I'll always have more to read and more to write about than time to do it. Don't know a better exercise for learning to "let go" than blogging...

Richard MacManus on something related:

I wonder if weblogs are making our reading and writing habits temporal and 'always unfinished' (to twist the term 'always on')? Having written an article for Digital Web Magazine (and I must get around to writing another one), I can confirm it takes at least a couple of weeks to 'craft'. Whereas with my weblog, although generally I write carefully crafted long-form posts, it's still of-the-moment and a lot of times it's an ongoing theme I'm exploring (ie it's not "finished").

I would probably write more "finished" articles for my blog if I didn't feel so much (social?) pressure to continually update my RSS feed. As it is, I only write an average of 3 posts per/week anyway, but still...

And same goes for my reading. To participate in the blogosphere you have to keep up-to-date with the RSS feeds in your circle of influence. Which leaves less time for reading "professional" and finished articles.

Although often I escape into blogging when I don't feel like working on a larger, "finished" pieces, I guess I really need those pressures to produce something finished to take an extra effort for synthesising "always unfinished" into something "finished".

Back to finishing something bigger :)


  Monday, December 13, 2004


  BlogWalk 6.0 - Social software in corporate settings - Chicago

After blogging on the move in Umea, Sweden BlogWalk travels across the ocean! 

BlogWalk 6.0

  • When: 21 or 22 January
  • Where: Chicago (to be more specific: most likely Evanston which is near by)
  • Focus: Social software in corporate settings
  • Local host: Jack Vinson
  • More: BlogWalk Chicago wiki page

I'm really looking forward to it. Excited and a bit scared - have no idea what could happen while replanting our European adventure in North America :)

As usual, it's by invitation only, but if you know why you should be there let us know. BlogWalks are open for new people, but we need to know who will be coming and why to keep the conversations meaningful.

And - re: walk part of BlogWalk - Terry Frazier is not the first one to warn me that Chicago in January is not the best place to walk outside. Of course, for a Russian it's not scary (see hard data from Jack :), but may be we should be creative about the walking part. Is there any interesting local place to walk inside?

This post also appears on channel BlogWalk


  Edublog Awards: results

Edublog Awards voting is finished:

Well, what can I say, a great bunch of people sharing a great bunch of blogs, thanks to all who came along & voted!

Basically, congratulations to everyone who was nominated. As I’ve gone on about ad infinitum the idea of how ‘results’ might work has been troubling me a fair bit and I’m really keen to avoid ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ (because really, these and the many great blogs that weren’t nominated (probably due to lack of credible-blog-clout…) are all very much winners) and in that thinking we kinda decided to scrap the ‘editorial’ aspect and just let the votes decide.

And the winners are:

  • Best Individual Blog - Pharyngula
  • Best overall group blog - Crooked Timber 
  • Best resource sharing blog - OLDaily
  • Best Research Based Blog - Mathemagenic 
  • Best blogged paper(s) - Bridging the Gap: A Genre Analysis of Weblogs 
  • Best designed & most beautiful blog - Blaugustine 
  • Best technology meets pedagogy blog - Teaching & Developing Online 
  • Best use of weblogs within teaching and learning - Bee-coming a Webhead 
  • Best Newcomer (2004)  - Chasing the Dragon’s Tale 
  • Best Librarian Blog - Library Stuff
  • After a weekend offline it was fun to discover that my weblog won in the Best Research Based Blog category. Thanks for those who voted, but also for everyone who is there - inspiring, reading, commenting - because without you blogging research wouldn't be that exiting and that rewarding. And especial thanks to company, Telematica Instituut, for taking risks of someone blogging about work and my colleagues for a good company.

    And, next to a good personal feeling, I really hope that events like Edublog Awards will help to make research blogging a legitimate activity for a researcher and not a strange and even dangerous hobby :)

    More on: blogs in research 

      Friday, December 10, 2004


      Blogging in a company

    Carla and Anjo post some reflections on the discussion on blogging experiences we had yesterday with other colleagues who started blogging in 2004. About juggling priorities and finding time, exposure ("blogging in your underpants" as Rogier said :), discovering your own format and audience, being regular and being provocative...

    It was fun and insightful (especially on not blogging :), but for me personally most valuable thing was to feel that I'm not alone anymore, that I have a good company at work to experiment, to share experiences and to reflect on them...

    More on: blogs in research 

      Middlespace: predicting and managing bottom-up processes

    More of middlespace - Jeremy Aarons on keynote by Bob Galliers:

    Galliers presentation touched on many issues of relevance to my work. In particular he talked specifically about the importance of both a top-down and a bottom-up approach to the development of socio-technical systems. I took his major point to be that a top-down strategy, involving standardised IT/IS methodology, is "necessary but not sufficient" for successful implementation. Here we are in total agreement.

    However, I was worried by the way Galliers characterised bottom-up processes as "informal" and "emergent".  The worry is that this seems to imply that these processes are unpredictable and unmanageable, since informal seems to imply that they are not formally understandable, and emergence brings in the idea that these processes are somewhat mysterious.

    But I think that the real challenge of knowledge management (or whatever you'd prefer to call it) is precisely how best to manage these bottom-up processes, within the specifications set by the top-down imperatives. Thus characterising them as "informal" and "emergent" really defeats the point - the real challenge is to explore the bottom-up processes in detail, to try to formalise them, and to explore the way they manifest in the broader organizational context. It is on this point that Galliers claimed we were in violent agreement, but I still feel that he underestimates the power of the rhetoric he uses in this case.

    I wouldn't say that the bottom-up processes are predictable and manageable. For sure we can understand them and can try steering in a particular direction, but I guess this would require redefining what "prediction" is and how "management" works. Thinking about sense-making and releasing the energy of others...

    Also, Jeremy, what is the point in formalising bottom-up processes?


      Thursday, December 09, 2004


      Questions on personal categorisation

    Had an interesting discussion with Anjo and Rogier on how and why people categorise things (documents, bookmarks, blogposts)... Thinking of all kinds of things that I'd like to know about my own categorisation:

    • Why I categorise things the way I do? What are the criteria?
    • When I categorise things for further retrieval, how often I actually go and retrieve them? Does categorisation helps in it?
    • How categories evolve over time? In relation to: changes in thinking, changes in tasks, changes in tools I use?
      • e.g. did categorisation in my weblog changed since I started to use del.icio.us
    • How categorisations in different spaces (e.g. file folders, email folders/tags, paper files, weblog topics)overlap? What explains overlaps? How you could connect them? Is there a need to connect them?

    Just a brain dump...

    See also: LiveTopics wishlist or topic-based blogging support on how I categorise things in my weblog and what features I miss.


      Wednesday, December 08, 2004


      I'm a normal person, just a bit too passionate

    As calling me High Priestess of  Euroweblogshpere wasn't enough, now some people think that I'm Ubergeek queen :)

    C'mon, I'm a normal person, just a bit too passionate :)))

    More on: fun 

      Travel plans: US in January - Hawaii/Minneapolis/Chicago

    First thanks to all invitations that followed my questions about people to meet and places to visit during my trip in US. The bad news is that I had to make choices to fit my time and budget. The good news is that I've got 2 years US visa, so it should be much easier to plan another trip (hope to do it!) 

    So, now the planning looks like:

    The last part is still has to be planned. What I hope to do:

    If you happen to be on my way and want to meet or have any suggestions on what to do "around Chicago" please email or Skype me.

    More on: BlogWalk travel 

      Tuesday, December 07, 2004


      Writing PhD dissertation

    Terri Senft points to a great essay by William Germano, If Dissertations Could Talk, What Would They Say? It's about making a book out of your dissertation and it tells a lot about differences between them...

    A dissertation fulfills an academic requirement; a book fulfills a desire to speak broadly. A dissertation rehearses scholarship in the field; a book has absorbed that scholarship. A dissertation can be as long as the author likes; a book's length is strategically arranged for optimal marketability. A dissertation suppresses an authorial voice; a book creates and sustains one. A dissertation's structure demonstrates the author's analytic skills; a book's structure demonstrates the author's command of extended narrative. A dissertation stops; a book concludes.

    Most crucially, a dissertation is written for a committee (that powerful audience of three or four), a book for the world. Yours might be a small world, like the total population of specialists in Etruscan inscriptions, but it's a population that extends beyond the folks you know personally and on into the future. If you want to be made nervous, don't think about what your dissertation director will say when the book version comes out; think instead that, if you're very lucky, someone will be dusting off your work after you're dead.

    Which brings me again to my lack of motivation for writing a thick scientific text that just a few people will read. I know that this is scientific tradition, but I still can't get myself to the idea of spending lots of time writing mainly for the sake of proving that I'm up to the standard... Of course, I'll get around it, but so far I'm very happy to write hoping to create a context in which other people can think and not to prove that I'm good enough for a PhD (who knows, may be I'm not :)

    And one more quote: 

    The manuscript that an editor wants to see on her desk is one she can't not read. We're inundated by work that is trying, painfully, to sound grown-up, when what we most want is work that conveys genuine belief. But belief in what? Not in the validity of a theory or the judiciousness of a political view, though that might be what gets the author out of bed in the morning. More fundamental than either is a belief in writing's power: belief in the story within the manuscript, in the existence of an interested audience, in the author's ability to reach those readers.

    More on: PhD writing 

      Monday, December 06, 2004


      Nominated for Edublog Awards :)

    I mentioned Edublog Awards earlier, but thought it may be worth doing it again for two reasons:

    1. Voting is open till 10 Decemeber and the categories are:

    2. My weblog is nominated as Best Individual Blog and Best Research Based Blog.

    I'm encouraged to ask my readers to vote to make it fair, but I do not insist that you vote for me :) Many of the competitors are in my own reading list and do great work, so even if I don't win it feels nice being in a good company...


      Sunday, December 05, 2004


      Blog as a way-back machine

    Every time it's a very strange feeling: finding a two years back post and realising that my today's ideas have roots in the past.

    Themes from that particular post: learning from process, apprenticeship, visualising traces...

    And, before I forget it again - Harri-Augstein and Thomas (1991) quoted by Sebastian Fiedler:

    To the extent that a person becomes aware of his or her processes of construction and takes control of them that person acquires self-organisation in learning.


      Friday, December 03, 2004


      Blogging as breathing or how to find time for blogging?

    From Ton's write-up of BlogWalk in Umea:

    On the use of time for blogging

    The most asked question when I speak to people who don't blog, is where I get the time to do it.

    In Umea we discussed time consumption and listed a number of time-consuming factors. Time is needed:

    • To get used to the tools
    • To grow a network
    • To get into action with others
    • To grow trust
    • For getting to know and find useful (re)sources
    • To find your voice (for yourself, for others)

    This seems like a list of things that apply to a lot more situations than just blogging. For instance we compared it to Stephanie's experiences when she first moved from the US to Sweden, and had to find her rhythm in a new country. It also resonates with my own perception that the time I spend blogging is either not very large, or all of the time. Reading blogs, writing to reflect and digest, writing to collect and gather, and sharing along different channels (blog, wiki, company portal, e-mails, etc.) is just the way how I collect and process my personal information flow. Asking me how much time I spend blogging, is treating blogging as an additional activity in my life (which it was at first), and feels to me like asking how much of my time I spend breathing.

    My answers to this question are pretty similar: I can afford spending quite a lot of time blogging only because it's so integrated with my regular activities that it's not an add-on anymore.

    A brief brainstorm of the role blogging plays in my own work: 

    • professional awareness
      • I read weblogs instead of reading mailing lists and searching professional web-sites to stay updated with news and trends
    • work-related search
      • saving time for searching as in many cases I come across papers/information I need for my work via weblogs and blog/bookmark it
      • social search - very often I know whom to ask for a specific information/advice
    • networking
      • reading weblogs is a low-cost way to stay in touch with others (if they have weblogs :)
      • writing my own weblog exposes my own work and expertise, so it's easier to establish contacts
      • better use of f2f time as with bloggers there is no need for updates on each other news
    • conversations
      • getting help or answers fast without being too intrusive
      • feedback on ideas and early drafts
      • development of ideas in a community (actually: in different communities :)
    • research
      • data collection, interpretation and presentation (e.g. as everyday grounded theory)
        • reading other weblogs and being a blogger are part of my data collection instruments 
        • I use my weblog to test my interpretations and to get a feedback on ways of presenting some pieces of research
      • weblog as a research notebook
        • keeping notes on reading, research progress, ideas, publications
        • organising notes into themes to support thinking and future retrieval
      • writing
        • low-threshold space to start writing that helps to start small when working on large pieces (like papers or PhD as a whole)
        • space to get an early (or urgent :) feedback on writing
      • getting emotional support

    I guess there is more... Anyway I'll be back on it because I'm thinking about writing a paper on blogging as a research method :)





    © Copyright 2002-2005 Lilia Efimova Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

    This weblog is my learning diary. Sometimes I write about things related to my work, but the views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.

    Last update: 6/30/2005; 11:34:29 PM.