Author: M.J. Ryder

About M.J. Ryder

Writer, academic and digital communications professional.

PhD update – the end is in sight!

It’s 8:21am. I’ve been sitting at my desk now since a little after 6am, working feverishly on amendments to a journal article while also planning out thesis amendments, my next blog series, and ideas for the In The Zone podcast. I’m also trying to sort out my work situation for next year and scour the internet for somewhere to live. Oh, and I’m also organising a conference.

Just another day in the life of an academic hermit!

But it’s not all bad. The end is now well and truly in sight. I’ve met my second supervisor and updated my thesis with his suggestions, and now all that remains is to check that he is happy with my changes and cut out about 400 words to bring my total under the 80,000 word maximum required by my department. Though 400 words may not sound like a lot, this will still take quite a lot of work as I’ve already honed down a lot of my content to the bare minimum wordage where possible.

This may be hard to believe, but the main challenge with a humanities thesis is not reaching the word-count, but cutting down your content to fit within the maximum limit. Nearly there though, and not too long to go until I submit!

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Dwayne Johnson and the myth of hard work

Everywhere you look these days, people are ‘working hard’ on social media, telling us about their lives, their jobs, their children and all the many things they do to fill up their time. And when they’re not working hard, they’re spending their time telling us about how hard they’re working, or how much they’ve deserved the break they’ve given themselves from all the hard work.

But what really is work, and why do we do it? Is there even such a thing as working too hard?

I can’t say that I have all of the answers at this point, but I do have several thoughts…

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Online grammar checkers – Grammarly revisited

Way back in 2013, I was invited to write a review of the online grammar checker, Grammarly. I was paid by Grammarly directly to write this blog, with the only requirement being that I had to open with the phrase ‘I use Grammarly’s free online grammar check because…’ At the time, I found Grammarly to be a fairly useful tool, though I did raise several concerns including the academic implications of plagiarism checkers, and the danger of Grammarly becoming a crutch for weaker writers.

Now, six years on, I find cause to revisit my original review of Grammarly, and reiterate many of my original concerns as Grammarly continues to expand its reach.

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Robotic consumption – what Uber’s new ‘quiet mode’ tells us about the human and the machine

Taxi app Uber has announced a new ‘quiet mode’ for customers using its premium Uber Black service. By selecting the option via the app, users can order a cab where the driver is instructed not to talk. While this change has proven positive with many users, some taxi drivers have responded negatively to the new quiet mode, with some critics claiming it treats taxi drivers more like robots than human beings.

While these critics may certainly have a point, they miss the essential fact that all taxi drivers – and indeed, all humans being – behave, and are encouraged to behave, in a robotic fashion. This blurring of the human and the machine isn’t really anything new, but rather, has been going on for a very long time indeed.

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