I realized yesterday that I had to start blogging in french. I plan to go to france next summer to do some research, and I'm practicing speaking, listening and reading, but not writing. Writing provides another opportunity to learn. It's very different from speaking. In speaking, when you don't know how to say something, you create a "work-around." You find another way to say it, maybe not precisely what you wanted to say, but you get the idea across. In writing, however, you have a dictionary by your side and you look up the word or way of saying something that you prefer to use. They involve different and complementary skills and I need to do both. I'm in DC right now and I don't have my dictionary, so I won't start today, but tomorrow I will. Maybe I'll blog at least one or two paragraphs in french, as a start. Eventually, I should do it all in french. It's a way to preserve my thoughts about this experience *and* practice french at the same time.
And that, indeed, is the essential problem I need to solve right now. How to get more efficient about what I need to do because I don't really have time to do it all however I feel like. It's got to get efficient.
So, for today, a summary of my trip to DC. I came to talk with other copyright attorneys in higher ed about an education initiative of the ARL, but we also talked about digital delivery of educational materials, Google Book Search, and many other things. I visited with UMUC about being their Visiting Scholar and they worked very diligently with me to come up with a plan that benefits us both. I was very happy to find that they were flexible enough to accomodate my current state of panic about being unable to do everything I already have commited to do, let alone new commitments. The Kims were superbly calming. I so appreciate that. I really need that right now.
Anyway, the connections are just amazing. Everything is connected (duh). I am not worrying so much anymore about projects and specific readings. I just do the readings and then liberate the connection-detector and go from there. I seem to go from the specific, the detail, to the general very quickly, sometimes too quickly I'm afraid. I seem to be much more comfortable with the big picture firmly in mind. Context.
So, specifics. Norman's Design of Everyday Things had basically one thing to say and he said it over and over and over and took 200 pages to do it and it's not really a total waste of time, but it could be said so so so much more succinctly and without all the stupid examples. Let's move on. Preece, which everyone seemed to hate at first (and I wasn't that enamored of it either) now seems to me like a much better resource, more practical for the project-oriented approach of Luis' class.
For KMS, our readings are more like good background reading so far, but I can see that we are getting deeper and deeper into the specifics of different kinds of KMS and it's going to become maybe way too dense to be able to stay on top of it all. I need to know this and want to learn it, but it is too much too fast and that usually ends up meaing that nothing really gets into long term memory. Ultimately, I feel that's wasteful. I need more time to think about things and work with them and get them into meaningful contexts or else it's just an exercise with no real long-term utility. I wonder whether it's just me? I wonder whether professors care? I know when I was a professor that I felt students needed at least some exposure to a wide range of subjects or topics within the course framework, but now I wonder if the overload defeats the very purpose of that exposure. Does exposure count if there's no film in the camera? If the end result of exposure is forgetting everything, it's just like exposure without film in the camera. But what to do about it?
Well, this is *my* graduate school experience. There's no reason that I should accept someone else's definition of what success is. There is some level of accomplishment implied in attaining the degree, I accept that, but I am not at all convinced that the level or type of accomplishment defined by the professor is or should be the *only* accomplishment that is adequate to earn the degree. Maybe I'll talk to Mary Lynn about this. I know I'm not going to change anyone's idea about what graduate school should be like. And there's probably no small amount of "if it was good enough for me, it's good enough for you" going on. I don't want to do less, I just want to do more of one thing than of another. I want to do more thinking and reflecting, and less reading for exposure and moving on to more reading. Too much reading leaves no time for reflecting. Is that not true? If the standard full time course load leaves no time for thinking, then something is wrong with this picture. The reflecting is what I came her for.
Well, I have to get the efficiency thing fully implemented before I make the judgment that there's no time for thinking. So, I'll give it another couple of weeks. Then I'll reassess.