150 Not Out

Celebration CC Cake
Celebration CC Cake

Yes I’ve just spotted that this is the 150th post in this blog.  W00t.  Okay, so a fair number of posts have been from before my current PhD studies, but the bulk of them are now well and truly focused on my adventures as a mature post-graduate research student in the arts and humanities.  If you’re a new reader, hi there – and do say hello in the comments, I won’t bite!

Monday

A sorta odd day, in that I had to leave the house around 6.30am to drive myself and Mrs Llama way down south for a meeting, and then all the way back here again.  240mi round-trip and 6.5hrs later (so just after 1pm) we made it back here for lunch and light work.  Having been up early and having done all the driving (Mrs Llama has issues with my car) I’m not going to attempt to do anything monumental.

However, I did re-enroll for my degree year two.  Deadline isn’t until the end of October, but I think it might have been causing me email issues on campus – so following advice from the IT guys at NTU I did this online, so hopefully now my email and everything will keep on working.  Or at least I hope it will!  I did take the time to read through the various enrollment supporting documents, which included one on student intellectual property (IP), a topic as close to my heart as ever.  Nice to see slightly contrary to what I heard from the IP class last year (the one day of the research training programme I was sick, damn it) students do own their IP generated at the uni.

There are clauses, such as sponsors having a claim on potential commercial IP (and the uni too).  Luckily I doubt what I’ll be generating will be exploitable to that degree.  Interestingly the uni does get to have “a non-exclusive right to retain and make available for non-commercial purposes copies of material produced by students during the course of their studies at the university“.  Interesting that “non-commercial” tag – for surely is the use of any of my (or fellow students’ work) in marketing or promotion of the institution in any form a commercial exploitation?  Hmn.  I’ve run into this idea before that universities think themselves “non-commercial” even as they tie down the exploitation of IP generated by their staff, seek to maximize their recruitment and fees and develop technology transfer partnerships.  Yes, indeedy, that doesn’t sound like a commercial organisation at all…

It’s grist for the marketisation of HE chapter I’m working on at the moment, this sort of schizophrenic split of identity that universities like to promote in the early C21st .  “Yes, we’ve public education bodies…unless there’s money to be made, in which case come friendly enterprises, rain capital upon us!”.

I might not be quite so flowery in the chapter, but it’s a useful little local titbit (and I’m sure if I searched other institution’ rules I’d find much worse – I think especially of one or two of my past employer HEIs here).

I’ve also been spending a few minutes working out how to generate a contents table in Libre Office.  I like Libre Office, even more so than Open Office now, although there are some things it just doesn’t do as well as M$ Office I’m sorry to say (sadly Impress is a poor shadow of PowerPoint, and how Writer handles comments by printing them at the end of the document, rather inline with the text is similarly weak).  Too me a few minutes of fiddling with styles and menus, but now I do have a nice little contents page for my chapter which helps give me an idea of the structure – and where it doesn’t quite flow right. Tomorrow, I’ll be hammering at the structure somewhat more forcefully – hopefully after a lot more sleep and no more driving.

Tuesday

Chapter writing and editing.  Wrote and edited the chapter introduction page, covering the focus and the key arguments I wanted to make with it.  Also did one more interview – as one of the big universities I’d approached months ago finally came out of the woodwork.  Think I might underscore that as the very last interview in this phases, as I feel like I can’t really spare the time to do more of them now.

Wednesday

Working on the second section of the chapter, taking stock of the environment within which universities in the UK function.  Today I was mostly writing a brief history of the UK university and material on the ideas and thinking behind universities in general.  There’s probably a lot more I could write on the subject, but for the purposes of this chapter i think I need to keep it relatively concise.  Did come away thinking I need to track down a decent paper or book giving a timeline of the foundation dates of universities.  Wikipedia does have a good page on it, but I got lightly told off for quoting from it previously, so don’t feel I can.  But frustrating since as far as I can see the information is accurate.

Thursday

Still working on the second section, this time mostly on neoliberal reforms and the knowledge economy.  It is slowly hanging together, but there’s a long way to go.  I’m a bit worried as I have a tendency to overwrite in a first draft phase, including everything that might be relevant.  I really struggle to edit things down to a more pithy length – I’m on page 8 of what is supposed to be a 15 page chapter, and only a quarter of the way through writing it.  Could be that it’s better to have more information in here, and given I’m using 1.5 line spacing perhaps there’s really only 6 pages of content.  But all the same it’s a worry.

That's not quite what I meant
That’s not quite what I meant

It’s also a worry just how long it takes to pull this information together and arrange it in any semblance of order.  I can feel I’m a bit faster at it than last week, but all the same I dream of the day I can just skip lightly through all this content and pull it together.  I guess that’ll come in time as the concepts I’m dealing with become more second nature to me, and less like trying to wrestle an octopus to fit into a t-shirt – too many arms, and I’m not quite sure he should be in there in the first place.

Needless to say, there are no octopi in this chapter

Friday

The second section turned into a bit of a monster (possibly with tentacles) but I did manage to get a rough draft of it done and started work on the third section before the day was done.  The third section is looking a bit tricky as it is really the heart of the chapter, so I suspect I’ll be working on it for most of next week.  But at least I’m up and running now on this chapter.

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