Distractions, reflections

David Ing, at large … Sometimes, my mind wanders

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Tues. Nov. 15, 2006: Book before dissertation

I’ll be writing books before finishing my dissertation … which is okay, in Finland!
David doesn’t behave like the normal Ph.D. student, which is acceptable in Finland.

(by David): I had to prepare for the dissertation seminar, which is mostly a coaching session for people who haven’t done extensive research in their careers. I have to say that I’ve found this a strong point in the training at HUT. This seemed to be something that was missing in my education when I was at UBC. Last year, I was sitting in a class taught by my friend Annaleena, where she stepped the master’s students through how to do library searches (e.g. the Web of Science database). Annaleena has said that the professors at HUT may not be the most dynamic speakers, but they’re good researchers. I would add that they’re generous with their time with Ph.D. students who are apprentices. This is despite the fact that in North America, where a professor supervising five students would be considered heavy, and Stanford chaired professors aim for one — Finnish professors may supervisor as many as 25 students. They’re really overworked, so I mostly try to stay out of their way.

That being said, I’m still a Ph.D. student here, and participate in the doctoral seminar. To be up front, I haven’t done that much writing on the dissertation since I was here in the spring, but I’m not going to hide behind that. One result of aligning my dissertation research on innovation with the research relevant to my day job is that I’m now making advances on book, to be co-authored with some friends at work. Thus, it’s become an interesting pitch at the university. I’ll probably get the book done and published before I finish the dissertation, which itself will be done sometime before I finish my course work. It’s certainly everything backwards from the normal student.

In my university role, I’ve come to prepare fewer slides, and find that writing on the blackboard works well with students for whom English isn’t the first language. It slows down my talk — I really work on speaking slowly, already — but for the dissertation seminar, I put together a lot of the slides that I used at the conference in Florida in September. I created three slides up front to explain the outline and direction of the book. The whole presentation deck was 35 slides.

At the dissertation seminar, I decided to only speak to 3 slides. I’m sure everyone was happier.

Tues. Nov. 1, 2005: Slipping into academic lectures

Attending a debate at the Rotman School on “IT Doesn’t Matter”, with Nicholas Carr and Don Tapscott taking sides.
David sneaks over the university to hear a lecture, and is found out.

(by David): I take advantage of living in downtown Toronto, and being an alumnus of the commerce program at U. of Toronto, to attend various Rotman School events. It’s one of the leading business schools in the world — no one would argue that it’s top 50 worldwide, and there’s always the quibble about whether it’s in the top 20 worldwide, and its position in the top 5 in Canada — and it’s got a strong academic staff, so there’s always good speakers coming through. I just have to mark my calendar to remember to go.

My attendance at Rotman events isn’t directly related to my day job — I don’t have or want any official power there — so I just slip the event into my work day, and shift some hours around later, so there’s no real impact on my day job.

So, on this day, there was a debate between Nicholas Carr — famous for his IT Doesn’t Matter article — and Don Tapscott, who is a well known consultant who happens to live in Toronto.

Normally, my visit wouldn’t be a big deal… I usually just come in, and take a seat at the table up near the front of the lecture area. I came into the building, picked up my badge, hung up my coat, and slipped in beside the curtain up near the stage, and went to sit down at my usual position in the front row … and then I noticed that the CIO — my current client — was sitting two seats over from me.

We said hi, he introduced me to someone he was with, and I did my usual note taking and recording.

No damage done, but at least one person at my client knew that I wasn’t billing for those two hours that morning! At least this is some recognition that I work for a client for my knowledge, and not really by the hour ….

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