Updates and Think-Alouds

On this page, I haphazardly record updates and free-write to help my thinking. After some time goes by and the page gets long, I copy everything here into an “Updates” post. To see what I’m up to in less detail, read my Now page.

Sept. 15, 2023 – Thoughts on the complexity of nonpromotable tasks in academia

Whew, this is a roller coaster month – I’m feeling some whiplash from the semester starting, and just going through some tough times. I feel like the PhD is hard for reasons I didn’t really expect. A wise person once told me that good things come out of what’s uncomfortable, and that is true. I think I’ve committed on continuing my current research trajectory which has evolved into career development, and through my “career development coordinating” activities at DataWorks, studying what are the problems with hiring in the tech sector. It’s more than just horrible technical interviews, and some of it might cut across hiring more generally, but some really is specific to tech jobs.

Anyway, one unexpected challenge in the PhD is realizing some of my thinking patterns and defense mechanism that served me in my developer job don’t serve me now in this job. For example, “as a woman in tech” I was always on the lookout to make sure I wasn’t doing too many nonpromotable tasks or taking on more emotional labor than I was being paid for and that was part of my job. I would always think about, what am I being paid to do, and don’t do more because it’s not for you, its for the company. I had this defensive about my contribution and my worth – even though I really liked my job, I would make sure I wasn’t giving more than was fair. It’s really different in academia because, as a graduate student, the whole premise is that you are doing exponentially more work than you are paid for. And, the kind of research I’ve chosen to do and that I still want to do, i.e., very applied, “action research” where you work with a community to solve real problems, is in some ways defined by all of the operational labor that is largely unacknowledged in any formal way. But, the investment I make in this largely unrecognized labor is directly related to my relationship with the community and the quality of the solution to the problem.

I mean, the defensive is still important there to make sure I am maintaining a home life, etc, and to make sure I’m doing work the contributes to my research track record, not others’, but it’s still not quite the same, e.g., it might not be your paper, but you’ll get your name on it, and you might learn something new and develop a relationship that’s really valuable for your work. Many tradeoffs.

Anyway, all this may evolve the further I get into my academic career, but yeah, just sharing something about the PhD that I didn’t foresee.

Aug. 23, 2023 – Temptation Bundling

Now I will go to a coffee shop for some “temptation bundling”, where I pair an difficult task with something I am generally tempted to do. For me, this is reading dense articles (difficult task) with a cappuccino and potentially a cookie (something I am generally tempted to do).

Aug. 19, 2023

Just published an update!

Previous Updates

These are collections of updates and think-alouds from the past!