My adviser tells me that I am a “systems thinker.” She isn’t the first one to notice this – I know that she is right. I am constantly trying to optimize and improve the systems I use in my daily life. I notice when things aren’t working, and I
obsess over often think about ways to improve those processes. In fact, this can be quite a bit of a burden, because it means that I am constantly exposed to one of my greatest temptations to procrastination, and it quickly becomes self-reinforcing:
- I notice something about my workflow that isn’t working as well as it could.
- I research, brainstorm and test ways to improve my workflow.
- I notice that I’m not being very productive (because I’m not working).
- Repeat from step 2.
The best way I have found to counter this process is to find ways to accomplish multiple objectives at once, preferably by building on what I am already doing. This website is a part of that process. I have been having trouble working on my dissertation for quite some time now. I know that I need to be making progress, but it just isn’t working out for me. As a communication professional, I believe that I need a strong understanding of programming, web design and web development in general. I also need to know about writing for the Internet, because the Internet has become the primary place of consuming the written word. Finally, it is important to me to maintain my own online presence. I am envisioning that this website will help me to accomplish all of these goals.
Working on the Dissertation
It is my intention to post regularly about my progress on my dissertation. I don’t yet fully know what this will look like, but I do plan write posts about topics within the dissertation. This mimics the way that some classes require small, frequent assignments that can eventually yield much of the raw material in a final project. I may also post short descriptions, summaries, or reactions to pieces that I read. A lot of this is still up in the air, but what is important to me is that I derive benefit toward the dissertation and toward my eventual employment from working on the website.
Programming, Web Design and Web Development
As a Communication professional, and as a knowledge worker generally, I believe it is important to understand how the Internet works. I spend a significant amount of time working with a computer, which is one of the most powerful tools that humans have ever invented. It seems like if I don’t learn how to use it effectively, I will have squandered an opportunity to be fantastic at what I do. I already do much more of these things than the average graduate student does, but I believe the payoff is worth the effort. These tools are powerful, and they are changing the world. It is, in my opinion, worth the time spent to learn how to use them well.
Writing for the Internet
Writing for an online audience is hard. I no longer know what students are taught in High School – it has been too long since I was there – but I have not been impressed by my students’ writing skills. It seems that there is an over-emphasis on one particular genre of writing, which I find troubling. The majority of students who leave high school and college are not likely to engage in very much of the type of writing that they have been taught to produce in high school and college. This is a shame. Students are not generally taught to use non-verbal elements of writing, such as layout, text styles, images, and other things which help engage readers.
Maintaining an Online Presence
As knowledge workers, it is becoming increasingly important for academics to have an online presence. If I want to engage people outside the “Ivory Tower” of academia, then I will need to be accessible. Maintaining an online presence allows me to engage with others and to be find-able. As I continue in the job market, I am hopeful that it may also help me to find the type of job that I want.