Monthly Archives: August 2010

Travelogue 12: ‘sheeps that pass in the night 02.11.02’

Enjoying the lengthening days of south eastern Australia in the southern spring was a glorious, laid back rural experience.  I spent time on two farms: each of them suffering in the drought, one of them seemingly with greater success though as the herds were larger, the activity greater and the property more expansive.  Both families were very friendly of course, putting me up at part of the Wwoofing scheme – it’s still going strong by the looks of it, although they’re persisting with their Comic Sans obsession…

 

sheeps that pass in the night by davidjarman

Travelogue 11: ‘green 01.10.02’

On my way back to Australia following a northern summer in Edinburgh I spent a week in Bali. This was before the bombing (though only by about three weeks, and I spent in an evening in the bar which suffered most damage) so a snapshot of life on the island before the upheaval.

 

Read on for volcanoes, galleries and good food – but pity my travelling partner for the week, Russ, who being allergic to peanuts missed out on the satay sticks.

green by davidjarman

In house catering.

As part of my drive to get as much PhD thinking and planning done before The Return of Teaching in September I had a couple of really rewarding and interesting meetings with colleagues this week.  The general topic was how could I set up a PhD at Edinburgh Napier, who would be involved, how would it be structured and so on.

First off was a trip down the road to see the School of Computing.  Within the myriad different areas that they work in are some which approach many of the topics I’m interested in, but they’re coming at it from the technology perspective, rather than the events.  The themes of human-technology interaction, creativity and innovation run through much of this work, such as in the ‘Companions‘ project which works to…


develop a personalized conversational interface, one that knows and understands its owner, and can act as an alternative access point to resources on the Internet, all the while nurturing an emotional involvement from it???s owner/user to invoke the shift from interaction to relationship’.

This was a really motivating conversation, held on the street-side terrace of a windswept cafe in busy Morningside.  I learnt a lot about some of the wider work being done at my own institution, and have quickly moved on from thinking that few people seem to be working on the themes I’ve been discussing on this blog.  Potential supervisors were mentioned, or at least people to talk to (when I think I’ve got something worth talking about!): Prof David BenyonDr Hazel HallProf Jessie KennedyHannah Rudman.  The CVs behind those links are very impressive.
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There were two conversations of note this week, as flagged above.  On Friday I met up with a colleague within my own School, someone with a great deal of experience relating to how people have approached and undertaken their PhDs and DBAs within our subject area.  The intention here was to find out what my next steps should be and the get an understanding of the environment I’d be proposing it in: what’s possible given the funds available (or not) and if I were to study at Napier how would a supervisory team be put together?  In bullet point form here are some resulting thoughts:
  • It’s highly likely that only an Edinburgh Napier based PhD would be possible, given funding constraints.  Entry could be in September of January.
  • Whether this means it would have to be primarily within my School, or could be housed within the School of Computing I don’t know.  This is important because another School might not be interested in supporting something they’re not receiving funding for, yet the requirements they would set down for anyone researching through them might not be feasible given my existing commitments.
  • PhD supervision would be structured around a Director of Studies, accompanied by two other supervisors, between them they would need to have at least two ‘completions’ of other doctorates. So perhaps a DoS from within my School, then a supervisor from computing and another closer to home…?  Ultimately it’s not me who would be putting the team together though.
  • It is definitely worth me investigating the Business School’s DBA.  This is delivered centrally and I can talk to Lois Farquharson for more information about fees, start dates and so on.  On having a look at the details about the DBA behind that link I’m still inclined to pursue the PhD route, but a more structured approach might well suit me better to actually get the work done!

Much to feel good about.  Much encouraging news.  Perhaps not the prospect of being able to ‘leave work behind’ by using a different institution as a base, but definitely ways of distinguishing between research, teaching and management.
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I also conducted a self-guided tour of parts of Glasgow Caledonian University this week, which has much to commend it in terms of student resources, proximity to the city and so on.  I’m very glad I made the trip through for that (and even managed to walk away from Glasgow with a brand new battery for the MacBook Pro courtesy of my extended warranty – w00t!).
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As a side note, apparently Mendeley is very popular among parts of the School of Computing, so maybe I can find someone to show me how to use it.  This news prompted me to try it out again with some real success – at least I now understand what bits of it are designed to do.  I’m yet to find out how to include page numbers with in-text citations – this has traditionally been pretty important in academic work, yes?

Crowdsourcing Disaster Relief

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Follow the TechCrunch link to a relatively short piece on the uses of Ushahidi and connected technologies in crisis and disaster relief. Among the points to note are that this is from the technology-focused media, that it’s written by guest contributors who are keen to spread the word about how technology can be used in these situations, and also that Ushahidi seems to be dominating this space at the moment from what I’ve seen. This is not a criticism as there are clearly opportunities for other to contribute – that’s the point after all – and as Ushahidi becomes more straightforward to use, more uses will be found.

A ‘mixed’ day at the Edinburgh festival.

A breakfast event, at 8:30am, was an earlier start than I’ve been used to this summer.  It kicked off a varied day, although it’s only 6:00pm just now and the final chapters have yet to be written.  So to a quick run down…

Festivals Edinburgh breakfast debate
A well informed and good sized audience heard from some very interesting speakers at the breakfast debate.  Topics ranged from risk taking to new technology, city infrastructure to marketing.  There was near universal agreement in the many strengths of the festivals, although a state of conflicting interests is clearly a pretty permanent state of affairs once you scratch the surface.  (Maybe it’s just the vocal minority though.)  More to come in next week’s Fringe Society AGM for sure.

Missing a show
 I had a (free) ticket to a show, which I managed to miss by turning up at the finishing time.  I ran the last few hundred yards for fear of being late, not realising the show was already over.  Didn’t feel particularly good about this…  But, I’m not going to mention the show as I hope to go see it again (at cost).

Meeting a spaceman!
There is a man climbing a ladder at the Forest Fringe venue, six feet at a time (then back down).  His name is James and he wanted to be an astronaut, though missed his chance by turning 24.  So he’s going to climb to space, which NASA reckons starts 50 miles up.  He’s due to finish on 30 August, so I hope to be there for the climax – but today I was very fortunate to be there for climb number 20,000!  This was great.  A really good moment that was shared by four people: James, his colleague Andy (Ground Control: he turns over the counter), a cheerleader pal of theirs and me.

I made a joke that at 20,001 that really was some Space Odyssey, which made James smile.  I’m going to add that to the Guardian’s coverage of this endeavour, then get back to my cider.

Mark Watson’s roaming Edinburgh book launch for ‘Eleven’ #watsonbooklaunch

If the Edinburgh International Book Festival wants a way to instil a bit of danger into its programme Mark Watson can provide a template: guerilla book launches don’t come any more subversive, claiming the streets for literature and prose, plot and characterisation. A giddy two hour tour of Edinburgh, from New Town to Old, pleasant Pleasance to smelly piss-alley and eventually to a sedate Waterstone’s and ringing cash registers.

Enjoy the photos and rue the missed opportunity if you weren’t there, but this whole event could have come to a tragic end from a great height if the reading in the alley had gone awry…

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West Highland Way photos II

I’m still just as stoked that I walked so much of the West Highland Way – a couple of weeks’ distance has not quelled my enthusiasm. Here is a selection of shots taken with Bob’s camera (then compressed onto Facebook and extracted by me), conveying more that mere words could ever manage…

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