Wow. I’m back in school. And overwhelmed in that way that only school can offer – more reading than is physically possible combined with a radical shift in discursive styles and output combined with the weight of feeling as though everything is overdue. Of course, everything *IS* overdue, including blog entries.
Because i’m back in school, what’s on my mind is why. Some of my dearest friends have left this semester and nothing makes me cringe more than being asked when i’m going to graduate. (I promise that until i do i will continue to say “3 more years” as i have since the beginning.) I’m trying to unpack why i believe in academia and why i want my PhD. Or maybe this is an annual reality check.
I love having a knowledge project, a philosophical direction to grapple with a core issue of humanness. I love being intellectually engaged with the end goal being knowledge above all else. I love learning and i love teaching.
Of course, i absolutely despise writing – it’s like pulling teeth and i seem to avoid it like the plague. There’s nothing fun about grant writing and the internal politics are brutal (although not as bad as in non-profits).
The irony is that the deeper i go into academia, the more i enjoy having one foot in industry. I really like helping people work out development problems, offering applicable critique in a way that they can move forward. Of course, my goal isn’t monetization so i can’t imagine actually being responsible for the development of a product inside a company, only for helping people who are motivated by monetization figure out flaws in their plot. Of course, my politics are still strong here and i cannot imagine helping projects that will monetize by abusing people in any form.
I am not invested in only communicating with other academics or people whose end goal is knowledge production. I’m happy to talk to developers, journalists, businesspeople. I find the conversations stimulating and the questions that are asked challenging. That’s part of why i read blogs not just academic papers – access to diverse views. I love thinking of my peer group as being broader than just other academics and i love getting feedback or having conversations outside of the academy. Unfortunately, peer reviewed papers in academia take forever and it’s really hard to motivate to get my ideas out that way when i can just throw things up online and get burnt at the stake and then rework my ideas. Somehow, the idea of not sharing until it’s peer reviewed feels so institutional.
Of course here is where i’m going to get myself into major trouble with academia. I don’t think that the institutional boundaries are the end-all-be-all and i do think that they’re quite limiting at times. I’ve never been one to appreciate rules for rules sake. I’m half terrified that my openness is going to get me into major trouble down the line (another reason why i’m terrified of graduating).
The other trouble is that by having feet in multiple worlds, i’m not doing justice to any of them. I’m not the best academic i could be and i’m not the best consultant or whatever that i could be. And i have a million things that i should write about here but never get around to. Worse: there are a million conversations that i would love to have but simply don’t have time for. My desire to have it all means that i can’t actually balance anything.
In the meantime, i feel like i’m moving forward at speeds far too fast for comfort, continuing to balance on the weeble wobble system and hoping that it will all work out. Am i naive as hell?