Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Very Happy New Year! Hear's to a great 2012!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Joys of Academic Writing

Two posts in a week? The world just tilted.

I have not been looking forward to this paper. I've made no pretense about it. I knew it was coming from the first week of October (and in some ways, before that) and I haven't wanted to write it since day one. Researching it for the last month was a lesson in self determination (or preservation), but I managed it.

The problem is that this paper has nothing to do with museums. It's 10,000 words about educational systems and the problems ICTs have caused in the traditional system. It's not interesting. I'm quite certain it is for some people, but educational theories, complaints of ICT destroying modern schools, and fifty other similarly veined arguments, have never held much interest for me. But I know I have to write this paper as the basis of everything that comes. This paper has to prove, basically, that learning outside of school is just as important, if not more important that learning within. And that using ICTs increases that learning potential. It has to prove this, because that is the basis of my bid for museums in my thesis.

But it's not going well. I'm at 3000 words right now, and it's neither flowing, writing or making sense. It's bogged down in five different learning theories which all sort of overlap each other, complicated by three that are for ICT in different uses, complicated by the fact that kids have a sixth opinion. It deals with too much and yet doesn't really come to any conclusions yet (it will). I'm bored writing it. When I'm bored writing something I find it almost impossible to write. I'll do 200 words in an hour. When I am interested and enjoying what I'm writing, I can do 2000 words in an hour (academic work; non-academic is about 4000 in an hour).

Short of having someone read it over right now, I'm not sure what else to do. And I hate letting people read unfinished work. I may have to just slog through the next 1000 words really slowly to get over this learning theory hump and onto the factual part of this paper. Hopefully that will be easier to write and flesh out. This part is like pulling teeth. And the headache isn't helping. I slept horribly last night, and lost two hours the night before. Tomorrow is presentation day and I really need to be awake and well.

Oh, the joys of being a PhD student. At least I am currently listening to the lunch seminar I missed (an account of writing) and hoping that perhaps that inspires me.

Friday, December 2, 2011

New Adventures

This post may ramble around a bit; my apologies.

A week ago I attended the Museums on the Web 2011 day at the IWM in London. It was rather a last minute addition to my schedule, all told, because my supervisor was chairing the day. I find conference attendence awkward. I am not very good at networking (though I realise that is sort of the bread and butter of being a PhD student!) and find approaching groups of people to be a lesson in nerve-wracking terror. Blessedly, there were a few good friends attending! The downside of this was that I don't believe any of us really did much networking. At least I have put names to the faces of Twitterers I've followed for ages and I will feel less terrified about emailing them for assistance in the new year.

There were a variety of very good topics raised and some truely surprising presentations. The most startling for many was a presentation on the advanced level that photographic imaging has reached. I had no idea that a single picture could be 22GB worth of data in detail! It seems to be mostly art galleries that are going in for this level of image detailing, in order to make available works of art on their websites, which technology that allows for pin-point zooming on the works of the great masters. If I was still an art history student, I am certain I'd be bouncing in my seat in happiness. It is still amazing to me to realise how far technology is coming on a day-to-day basis.

The conference was also an opportunity to meet with a former MA collegue, who is assisting with the DREAM conference next May in Denmark. I desperately want to go (despite the high cost), and would welcome the opportunity that the pre-phd conference events would allow me. As my supervisor is once again chairing, I am hopeful something can be arranged. The conference, plus travel, plus accomodation would be a very large fee indeed and I'm certain it's not in my budget. A travel bursary will certainly be applied for!

I have began paper compilation. By which I mean, I am now trying to organise the pages and pages of notes I've taken over the last month into some semplance of useful order. It's not always easy, but I have a workable outline that will likely change on a continuous basis until I write the conclusion. It is due in four weeks, however, so next week I must definitely begin the writing process.

Work has been heavily interrupted due to lack of sleep. Finally, the residential services committee contacted those of use affected by the outside noise yesterday to explain the situation (after 4 weeks) and promise that it will be resolved by next weekend (which will make it 5 weeks since I've had a good night's rest). Of course, the matter of compensation was thrown around at the meeting last night, but it is a valid point. I hope I won't end up being the one to run a campaign again estate services, though. I don't have the time! Though I will happily flag wave my heart out. After this many weeks, after a week now of lost work, I would like something as an apology (besides a verbal 'yeah, we screwed up...sorry', which is what we got last night). I'm not hopeful, however.

Lastly, through much trial and error, the trip to Munich in the new year has been booked! I will be gone a week, able to see one of my cousin's home games and also tour museums to my heart's content. And there will be beer and food at the best tavern in the city. I am most excited and dearly wish I didn't have to wait until the end of January. But it will give me a light at the end of the tunnel for this paper and the research for the next one (easier, I hope!). I'm certain there will be a post about it all in February.

That's me for December. Look for an update in the new year with much Christmas holiday cheer attached!