Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Digitally Overwhelemed

I am a technologist who can no longer cope with technology.

I can read a news article or a book. I can watch a video. But anything else is overwhelming.

The sad thing is I am unable to do my job without email. But the volume is astounding. Even with extensive filtering systems in place, it is too much.

I am not really sure how I got to this place. I've been using email since... well, let's just say I can recite the connection tones from a 1200 baud modem. But back then, very few people used email. Mostly it was just your friends. Now it's everyone, always, all the time.

With modems, there was a physical barrier to reading email. You could only check in certain locations at certain times of day, sometimes you would get a busy signal and have to redial. You'd sit there, disconnected, reading, playing games, listening to the modem dial. Peaceful and ignorant. And everyone else was too - so when you did manage to log in, there were far less emails there.

Everyone else seems to be feeling overwhelmed too. Though aside from either inhuman self-discipline (don't eat the giant chocolate chip data plan) or ignoring email, it's not clear what the solution is.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Playful Science Joy

The most important quality in a graduate student is playfulness. A light-hearted excitement about exploring something new.

My heart leaps when a student says, "I was thinking" or "I was wondering", and when those thoughts are far beyond the current topic of conversation. The click-clack of connections, new ones unconsidered before.

This is a student who goes to the library because they want to, not because they have to. They read books far outside their discipline. They create wild, innovative ideas as easily as they breathe.

The best part of my job is when I meet a student like this, and feel great hope about the future.