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!
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
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…
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.
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
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.
It’s been a while since my last PhD update, and a lot has been
happened since my last
blog in February. Since I last posted an update I’ve published a journal article, approved a proof on a book
chapter, and even appeared on national radio! And this isn’t even to mention my
podcast, website work and the small matter of my thesis…
It’s all going on!