And The Jukebox Played Nothing Cos it’s Bust

Not bobbins.
Not bobbins.

10 points if you pick up this week’s title is a quote from the not-at-all bobbins Frank Sidebottom‘s version of The Smiths’ Panic.  I’ve been listening to a lot of Frank in recent weeks (after watching the eponymous film) while I’m working and I just keep discovering stuff of his I’ve never heard before.  Brilliant, funny, funny stuff.  Think I’m going to need to make a side trip to Timperley next time I’m over Manchester way to visit his memorial statue.  Although he is very rude about llama in Zoo Scrapbook. This week then I:

  • Teaching
    • Media Communications
      • Much fun was had (well by me at least) looking at the work of Edward Bernays (father of PR) and considering how we can use it to construct adverts that speak to the hidden desires and motivators of the public.  Not to mention exploring how the group mind works and can be influenced by marketing.  It was a really buzzy seminar with a lot of chatter, and some excellent comments from a lot of the students – so I’m marking it up as a win.  Hopefully they got something good out of it intellectually too, as I got the impression they’ve found the last two weeks of lectures very heavy going.  Not helped by only 20-30 students out of a cohort of 180 turning up – the lecturer this week was more than a little put out by it!  Oh yeah, and I decided to show both a brief clip from Python (Life of Brian) and the following Mad Men clip to really illustrate how to apply these psychoanalytical approaches in making a marketing/advertising pitch.  For me it’s long been on of the real defining moments of the series, and going back to consider the psychological undertones just made it all the more enjoyable.
    • Face to Facebook
      • Onto collaborative creativity this week, a topic I feel more naturally at home in.  So a video from Charles Leadbeater (fun fact: he co-created Bridget Jones’ Diary) and discussions around the ideas of collaborative peer production (although skirting around Benkler’s work, with which I’m fairly familiar).  At least one of the groups didn’t seem that energised by the whole thing – not sure if they were expecting us to look more at Wikipedia (that was the lecture focus).  But as this was only the example of a really successful peer collaboration we didn’t really dig into it too much more.  Reworked the seminar a little for the other classes to see if that helped and it did a little bit, although still a fair amount of heavy lifting.  I’d be fascinated to find out how much the module deviates from what the students expected it to be, I guess since I’ve taught the whole thing before I can see how the whole thing hangs together logically…but I do wonder if some of the topics and seminars seem a bit left-field to them.  Ah well, at least I got one group chatting somewhat animatedly about how to replace a competitive neoliberal capitalist political economy with something embracing more collaboration in its ideological framework.
      • Speaking of which How many of these people have you met in your seminar? I think I can recognise some of these archetypes in my audiences…  Thank you The Tab!
    • Marking
      • Finally ploughed through the 40+ essays I had to mark.  Tried not to bitch (too much) about not really getting paid to do this, while focusing on making sure I gave each student who’d submitted some useful guidance and feedback.  On the whole the standard wasn’t bad at all, which was heartening.  Hopefully if they take account of my comments their actual assessed work will be nothing short of magnificent.  As I’ve told them a few times, I’d love nothing more than to hand out handfuls of 1sts!  We’ll see what the reality is over Easter!  Started uploading all the marked essays on Friday…only to discover I’d missed a couple.  Gah, bloody useless VLE – the backend is so clunky to use.  Then again as a student the front end is pretty poor too.  Still, guess it’s better than having to physically collect the essays (like the module leader seems keen on) and mark them by hand.  Online FTW really from my perspective.
  • Chapter writing
    • Two steps forwards, 1 step back.  It’s been the main focus on the week…and has edged closer…and closer to being done.
  • Conference proposal
    • Battled with the online system to submit my other (more academic) conference proposal for an hour or so.  Finally got it done, and now won’t hear anything until late March.  Suspect it’ll be one of three responses a) Accepted, no comments b) Rejected, no comments c) Told to rewrite for acceptance.  My gut feeling is probably b or c.  Frankly my confidence in myself and my scholarship is really at an all time low right now.  *sigh*
  • Online speaking
    • Been asked if I’ll do a short slot in a couple of weeks for some academics over Skype.  Exciting, but waiting to hear a few more details.  Hope they’re happy with some off the cuff speaking as I don’t quite know where I’ll slot in any preparation time – I must….must…must focus on the chapter to the exclusion pretty much of everything else right now.  Although I’m going to have to draft my UKSG talk in the very near future too.
  • Frustrations
    • Oh nothing new here, other than stressing about ever finishing the chapter, stressing that my work isn’t good enough, depressed over the utter isolation I’m living through as part of the PhD experience.  Not seen or spoken to a fellow PhD in months now, which can’t be healthy.  Thank Grud I’ve my undergraduate students to at least inject a little bit of humanity back into my weekday routine.

And finally…I think I’m feeling more like the post-doc here…kudos to whomever created this…although I’ve not got a source to cite!

Academic minions

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