Now blogging at diego's weblog. See you over there!

topic inertia

I guess that it will be a couple of days until I stop talking about the thesis and so on.


Okay, that didn't work.

Seriously though. I will probably babble on about this for a while. I think I find it a bit hard to talk about what I'm doing as I'm doing it, not because I won't talk about it but rather because I'm usually barely aware of what's happening at all (things happen too fast!). It takes a while for thoughts to settle. And then I think "ah, that's what it was all about. Fantastic."

Example: what happened regarding the writing style of the thesis. I was going to write about this at some point, and then it just didn't happen.

My supervisor had said (at one point) that there was little clarification of the thinking process behind the ideas. I was just presenting problems and solutions. I had kept the style dry on purpose because otherwise I get too relaxed and I start cracking jokes in the text, etc, and it wouldn't look good. So I rewrote a huge chunk, but as I did it I ended up with a sort of formal/informal/personal hybrid that was a bit weird. When my advisor reviewed it he said (in good humour of course) "Too chatty. We don't want your life story!"

Heh. Right. It's a thesis not a blog. I had to go through several restructurings of the text and this morning I realized that the reason is hyperlinks. The web. I was thinking (and still do, except that now I can see it) of the document as a set of hyperlinked pieces, rather than as a big linear thing. "Jumps all over the place" Was a comment in one of the early versions. Of course it does, and if I can't find something on it I do full text search and... At every turn I wanted to insert hyperlinks into the text, and I wanted to write with whatever structure I thought best, and I wanted to add a Dilbert cartoon because I thought it was appropriate, make it more... personal I guess. Why does science have to be impersonal? Why do we think that someone adding a subjective opinion is badbadbad (of course, it has to be clearly identified as such...)? With research, the process, and I mean the subjective process is very important. What didn't you do? What did you try and failed so miserably that you wouldn't mention in a typical text? Did you ignore a given area because of lack of time, or funding? All of those answers would be valuable for people who would like to understand better the work itself, or continue adding to it, or improve it, or go in different directions...

Then again the Universities probably wouldn't like things like lack of funding discussed in PhD theses...

My mind is blog-warped, I know.

Maybe someday people will, instead of submitting their thesis, email a link to their weblog to the department of graduate studies, with a query that essentially says: "here, all entries for category thesis between such and such a date". And that will be it. :)

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on October 1 2003 at 8:32 AM

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