Archive for the ‘meta’ Category

I’m coming towards the end of my first year in a PhD program. That’s almost entirely accurate. I’ve been in another program that would have eventually resulted in a PhD in philosophy, but since I left with a Master’s degree, it doesn’t count. But now I’m 15 hours into a PhD in rhetoric and scientific and technical communication, with just two papers to write for the remainder of the semester, and then I have a summer to recover/get ahead on my exam readings.

So thinking about that, I figured it would be helpful to go back through the year and think about what I’ve learned. Maybe it’ll be helpful for those not yet in a PhD program, maybe it’ll just be helpful for me a few years down the line when I look back to how naive I was. (more…)

The semester is thankfully nearly over. While I do have about 150 pages of grading to do, I get to start that on Friday, giving me plenty of time to work it all out. And while I do have two major papers, drafts for both are finished (thanks to me forgoing Thanksgiving). There will also be a take home exam, but I’ve seen the questions and they are interesting and thought provoking. Plus I have time to gather quotations and write outline before I know which question I’m answering.

So semester break is rapidly approaching. Only it won’t be a break. Yeah, I’ll take a few days off, and take it pretty easy most of the rest of the time, but I’ve got a lot of work to do. (more…)

This week I read, among other things, “Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Research” by Charney, “Working Memory in an Editing Task” by Hayes and Chenowith, and caught up on my reading about Empirical research. In reading all this, the major conclusion I’ve come to is that while Empirical research is interesting, and while the conclusions this research can draw are important, reading about them is, to put it mildly, difficult.

I’m not going to review these articles here. This week, I am more reflecting on these works in and of themselves and as representations/lessons for the semester thus far. (more…)

The Burning Question

Posted: September 9, 2008 in Brainstorm, Futurism, meta, Methods, writing

When I was in college, I came to the conclusion that the only way to really go through with a PhD was to have a burning question, something that kept me up at night, that demanded my constant consideration. I should say that by ‘came to this conclusion,’ I mostly mean that I was told this by people who I trusted, and it rang true to me.

Thankfully, at that time I had a burning question: Does personal identity depend on outside forces? This leads to questions about downloading the brain into a computer, about virtual persons, about cloning, and all the other great sci-fi geek questions. That question kept me going through my BA, and, though I wasn’t cut out for the Philosophy PhD program at the research university where I was at the time, the question still burned bright enough to get me an MA.

Yesterday, I was asked what my research question was. What do I want to research about? It was in class for Research Methods, so it makes total sense that I would be asked. I wrote something down, the first question that came to my head.

Last night, it kept me up. (more…)

On starting again

Posted: August 21, 2008 in Brainstorm, meta, School

I’ve finally started getting back to work. Apparently, I needed more of a break than I thought I did. Between moving house, getting to know a new town, starting to build a network of friends, and learning my way around the campus, there hasn’t been all that much time for real work.

Thankfully, that’s starting to change.

Of course, I haven’t been ignoring work. (more…)

There is not as much research being done as I had hoped there would be. I wanted to get back into academic reading, and start posting regularly to this blog. Unfortunately, or fortunately, my brain decided, as it often does over the summer, that I need time off. So I haven’t been able to read anything that isn’t strictly for pleasure, and I’m even having difficulty at that.

Part of it is the move. I’m now in Minneapolis, still settling in and getting to know the city. But that’s neither here nor there.

One of the ways I’ve been spending (wasting?) my time has been with Stumble Upon, which pretty much drains productivity. I like to imagine it’s collecting all that lost productivity somewhere. While stumbling, I have often come across articles about life extension. As science fiction is a passion of mine (especially as it becomes more predictive), I’ve found myself thinking about life extension and immortality quite a bit.


I’m very nearly finished my thesis. I achieved the non-content goals (4 pages of citations, more than 40 pages of text) without problem, and I believe I’ve answered all (or most) of the comments I was given on an older draft. Point is, I’m feeling like it’s almost over. The End is Nigh! but in a good way. (more…)

The clock ticks

Posted: March 31, 2008 in meta, Pedagogy, Usability

About a week ago, my adviser asked me if I had started packing yet (I’m moving to another school for a PhD program next year). I responded “Not physically.” He laughed. I hadn’t meant it as a joke. At the time, I thought I meant just that while I had started planning how to pack things up (like my office), I hadn’t actually started yet.

Looking back, though, I see that I really did mean what he thought I meant. I’ve started packing up and leaving school. I have one foot out the door. Senioritis, if you prefer. And I really don’t like that. (more…)

Philosophy vs. Rhetoric

Posted: March 6, 2008 in meta

Over the weekend, I was visiting a school that will soon be my new home. It was a recruitment weekend, and while it was exhausting, it was lots of fun and felt like a vacation. The hardest part, in many ways, was keeping myself separate and trying not to allow myself to be woo’ed, though that was what the weekend was for. I figured that where I spend the next four or five years is in itself an important decision, but the fact that for the rest of my life, that’s where my PhD will be from makes it even more important. So I wanted to be sure I was making the decision because it was the right one, and not just because people were really nice to me. I didn’t want to be that easily manipulated.

I like to think that I’m not; time will tell, but this school has made me the best offer, clearly wants me very badly (a nice little point for my ego), and is a very good school. So a few days after getting back, once I’d had time to sleep on it and let the glitz and glamour fade a bit, I made the commitment.

But that’s neither here nor there. The reason I’m writing this post is because of an event that occurred during the recruitment weekend. (more…)

The paper on discount peer response went, in my opinion, very well. I’m quite proud of it. There are issues that still need to be addressed, and there will be revisions that still need to be made, but for the most part, it’s pretty solid. In terms of my thesis, that word has come down that I can use that paper as the first 50% of it. So I need another 20 pager to round things out; one that focuses on theory and not on teaching. It’s a good point; I do need to examine other things. As much as I want to spend my life teaching, I know that part of the game is theory and publishing, and if I want to get the teaching gigs I want, I need to play the game. Besides, theory is fun. So I have the other 50% to get done.

(actually, doing the math, the first paper is 45%, the second is 45%, and a brief introduction tying the two together will comprise the other 10%)

So I need to figure out what I want to do for the second half. Which means heading back to my list of research interests. For the purpose of this brainstorm, I’m going to go down the list and see what I have immediately to say about each of the items that jump out at me.