So, here we are at the end of the 23 Things and I will admit I have learnt a thing or two. Seems you can teach an old dog new tricks.
The best trick I’ve learnt is Creative Commons. It’s like magic that I can generate a recognised logo to protect my work so easy and yet so official looking. I will no longer turn up my nose at Wikipedia knowing the work which goes into it and the traceability of the articles but treat it with a different sort of caution knowing that any old idiot (even me) can add to it, and inflict their own bias and prejudice on the unwary reader. It is something I would like to do more often too, knowing just how much I can contribute to knowledge of the field, at least to a lay audience. In reality though, who has the time.
Public engagement is becoming a greater expectation for Doctoral students these days and I think if I’d known about some of these tools earlier I could have used them to do more. I would still love to organise public engagement opportunities using things like Slideshare and Pinterest, so watch this space. And I’ve learnt a lot from resources others have made available on the internet. So many people pass on their expertise so selflessly by the power of the internet. Who’d have thought YouTube could be used for anything except watching cats being cute and people walking into stuff. Less likely to get on RudeTube though.
Through pure apathy I had resisted getting a LinkedIn page but I am beginning to see the potential benefits for collaboration or looking for jobs. I’m very bad at making effort and keeping in touch with people but through LinkedIn I can add people I’ve met at conferences without feeling like a stalker. There is a slight temptation to look up old colleagues and rivals to see how well your doing relative to them but that probably has more to do with my competitive nature than LinkedIn itself. I think I will find the same is true of a number of tools I have learnt to use but never bothered to try on my own. Things like Doodle Poll, Screencast-o-matic, which I have used since and found useful.
It’s not all been a walk in the park though. The whole program acts as though researchers should talk freely about anything and everything with no consideration of the consequences. It may just be because I am part of a company and a bit old, but I don’t want people who deal with me on a professional level to know aspects of my personal life. Facebook, chat rooms, Twitter, and blogs; all these things should be kept either strictly professional or separate from your work life. Facebook is for friends, LinkedIn is for work. I would even go so far as to say the program should discuss some of the negative aspects of mixing business and pleasure as a warning. Surely there must be plenty of examples of disciplinary action because of something an employee wrote on Facebook which shouldn’t have got back to the boss? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Also not everything you do is suitable to be shared. It seems the program is encouraging people to loose sight of the commercial sensitivity of their work. Everyone at Surrey has the potential to hit on a big idea; and they should be able to take full advantage of that big idea. I think this point is missing and should be addressed.
I will keep up with a few tools I have been exposed to but I think the majority of Things will sit in my tool box gathering dust for a few years until the rare occasion I find a use for them again. But it has opened my mind and helped me kick down a few psychological barriers at the same time, and for that I am grateful to you 23 Things.
If I’d had the choice though, would I really have spent so many hours getting to know my Things? Probably not. The time may have been much better spent learning programming or keeping on top of literature. Aspiring Journalists, Authors of Chick Lit and Hippies will, I’m sure have developed some indispensable skills. But for me it’s just the tissue paper in the present bag. It’s not the important part (the present) or functional like the bag itself. It’s just a bit of fluff that tags along with my degree and offers a slight distraction in the unwrapping, but hasn’t really changed me as a final product.