Monthly Archives: February 2013

Physician, heal thyself

Around a month ago, in the midst of a new trimester at work and the return of hundreds of students to the campus, I unwittingly stumbled into an evening of soul searching and fact-facing-up-to. The PhD which I had been registered on for 18 months and focusing on for much longer was no longer the right path for me to be pursuing. Over the course of a couple of hours I kept track of the arguments against, reaching some 30 bullet points and convincing myself in the process that this was a pivotal moment (towards what I’m not quite sure, naturally).

Why is any of that the business of this blog? The PhD was the foundation of this blog, the focus which gave it purpose and drove me to come back to it time and again. I have no intention of discarding the blog though, nor will the research work that I’ve done be wasted – it will find a home and a purpose. Officially however I have suspended my studies, initially for a year. As things stand I do not anticipate picking them up again in the form in which they were structured, it just wasn’t working for me.

In the immediate term, in the here and now, what I had hoped would provide me with a structure in which to place my research activities became instead a cloud over me. It wasn’t possible to have a clean break from work because there always something to be doing. Yet the PhD didn’t feel connected directly to work, this was a personal commitment and therefore occupied a place in my non-work psychology. Not a particularly contented place at that: it wasn’t making me happy because the progress was slow, or the benefits intangible, or the pay off too far away to motivate me. I’m sure I’m not the first person to feel this, but I found myself wondering why I should be going through it if I didn’t recognise the benefits and couldn’t be sure that this was the best way to go about trying to attain them.

Looking further ahead and I could see that there would be more of this to come. More weekends compromised by unproductively trying to make a small amount of progress. More time away from doing things I’d like to do, whether that be work related or not. It’s fine to cut extra activities out of work if it means freeing up time elsewhere for research, but after a while you lose contact with things that make the job more varied and rewarding than it might otherwise be.

The longer term, of career progression, has been altered by this course of action, this decision. That said it was an uncertain future anyway, so it’s just as much an opportunity as a hindrance.

Fortunately, right here and now, I’m very happy in my work, with no intention to go anywhere and (I hope) a supportive employer and some great colleagues. I’m very grateful for the opportunity and the supported offered me to pursue a doctorate, it has taught me a lot. I’ve also been privileged to work with some fantastic supervisors and colleagues, who I hope will want to work with me again in the future. I may still become Dr Jarman, there are ways to achieve it through publication, but that’s not something to worry about now and not something that’s going to shape my research choices and decisions. The themes of my PhD live on, in what form is TBC.

Move along now.

A wee while ago Twitter bought Posterous. There was uncertainty at the time about what this would mean – for the service, for the existing blogs hosted by Posterous, for the people behind its development and whether that was the cue to jump ship. I stuck around, partly through inertia and partly because I figured that the import/export tools to make a clean transfer to an alternative would only get better as time went by.

The situation took on a new urgency a week ago when it was announced that Posterous was about to disappear. So the last week has been an interesting mix of experimentation, discussion, play and progress. Having started the old blog with my own domain name I’ve transferred that across too and am now happy enough to start posting in the new blog and driving a little traffic that way.

My new blog is a self-hosted WordPress.org affair and my key to getting it there was to go via WordPress.com (which is the WordPress-hosted version). At first I wanted to go direct from Posterous to .org, but there wasn’t a native import tool available. Third party tools were there to try, but they didn’t cut it. WordPress.com does have its own importer though, so I created a free space there, imported from Posterous, then went from there to my desired self-hosted site. Some bits of formatting have gone awry and it doesn’t seem to handle photos as well as Posterous (in galleries), but the posts are there and available for editing. What’s very satisfying is that the metadata has come too, primarily the tags and some other stats – this includes the posts keeping their original date of posting. Remarkably the links I’ve sent out since starting the blog appear to still work, redirecting to the new site.

I’m now open to ideas on how best to progress from here, what to add to the space and what to take away. The possibilities are clearly much broader than they ever were with Posterous, so I’ve come of age… or at least I’m found a place at the grown ups table even if I don’t recognise half the food on my plate.