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The Metric January 23, 2012

Posted by Sarah in personal, progress.

Even before AcBoWriMo, I was trying to use data to keep myself motivated. It’s too easy for me to putter around on little things and call it “work”, or to lose whole days to just worrying about getting things done but not actually DOING anything. So I created the Dissertation Score. The Score favors time spent writing and analyzing data over less-progress-oriented tasks like reading and “other”. The math is as follows (time measured in minutes):

Score = (writing) + (analysis) + (reading/2) + (other/2) – (freakouts/2)

I use a little app called Klok (the free lite version – it’s nagware on launch) to track my time and then at the end of the day I just drop that in to my spreadsheet and it makes pretty graphs like this:

Note how I spent about 10 days NOT doing anything productive. At least not dissertation-productive. My current target for the Studious Network’s Academic Writing Accountability group is a score of 120/day. Given how little I am able to work on weekends, though, I might revise that to trying to keep my moving average above 120. Still thinking about that one.


It’s almost like I don’t exist… August 22, 2010

Posted by Sarah in personal.
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I know, because I blog here oh-so-often. But that’s not what this post is actually about.

Every semester, the UMass sociology department sends out a list of graduate students and their contact information. And for my first six years of grad school, there were always names on at list that you looked at and wondered, “Who the heck is that?” They were the students who’d been around a long time, whose funding had run out, who were off somewhere else, who may or may not have actually still been working on their degrees.

They were the ghosts.

And while I was at the ASA meetings last week, it occurred to me: I am a ghost. I have been a ghost for five years now, and half a ghost for a year before that. This first hit me when I got to my hotel room late at night after a moderate flight delay and then waiting nearly an hour for my luggage to come up from the belly of the plane. I was sharing with two other grad students, compliments of putting out a request for roommates on the grad student mailing list. They were names I had seen on e-mails that I deleted almost immediately. I had never met either one of them. They mentioned things like “the revolution” and other departmental events and I had no idea what they were talking about.

Throughout the conference I met several other current “young” UMass graduate students, all of whom were introduced to me by friends who were on campus at the same time that I was. Some of those friends are ghosts now, too, feeling more or less the same disconnection from Amherst that I do.

I guess I really am the itinerant sociologist.

PhD by Correspondence February 19, 2009

Posted by Sarah in personal, progress.
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One of the major challenges for me as I write this dissertation is that I’m for all intents and purposes doing my dissertation “by correspondence”.  (And yes, I have actually taken correspondence courses… before the Internet.)  this means that I don’t have regular meetings with my committee, or a working group to share writing with, or any kind of regular interaction around my research.  When we first moved here, I tried to start up what I called the “Itinerant Sociologists Club” but that idea fizzled basically immediately.  I occasionally chat with folks in whatever department I happen to be teaching in during any given semester, but I haven’t formed any long-lasting intellectual friendships.  Some of this is my fault, and some of it is just… adjunct hell + PhD by correspondence.

Since the first of the year, though, I have a new system.  I am writing regular “status updates” that are getting circulated to my advisor as well as some interested friends.  This serves two purposes – it gets me feedback on the things I’m thinking about AND it’s writing that will eventually make it into the dissertation itself.

My first update laid out some of the early correlations from the survey.  There are some interesting patterns emerging, but I haven’t worked out exactly what it means yet.  I did make a whole lot of extra-shiny graphs in Numbers, though!

For the next one, I’m comparing the demographics of my survey “sample” to other studies of bloggers.  The two best comparison cases so far are the Pew report on bloggers from 2006 and the October 2008 State of the Blogosphere report.  Tomorrow I’ll be looking at a couple of earlier SotB reports as well.

Oh, rats… December 20, 2007

Posted by Sarah in personal.
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I missed my first chance to be a talking head in the newspaper!  The tech report for the Buffalo News called Canisius looking for someone to talk to about flash mobs and social technologies and they ended up directed to me.  Unfortunately, the stuff that he’s writing the article about is happening on Saturday, when I won’t be available to chat with him.  :^(

Academically Star-Struck December 7, 2007

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A while back I contacted one of the major theorists upon whose work I’m basing my dissertation to request the text of a keynote speech he had given.  He wrote back quite quickly and promised the book chapter that the speech was based on (still in manuscript form) soon.  We bounced e-mails back and forth a bit and I hadn’t thought much about it in probably a month.  Got another e-mail from him yesterday saying he didn’t want to keep me waiting and included not only the text of the chapter we had discussed previously but also drafts of numerous other things he’s working on, and welcomes my comments, corrections, and suggestions on them all.

WELCOMES MY SUGGESTIONS!  As if!  (OK, probably he’s just being polite – but he certainly didn’t have to do a core dump of work-in-progress on me!)  Though, as Trine points out, perhaps I’ll know I’m ready to submit when I am finding holes in his work.

See, I really was there! October 22, 2007

Posted by Sarah in AoIR, personal.
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space and place

Originally uploaded by buridan
Thanks to Jeremy for the shot, and not for posting the “giant pez dispenser” shot.

How very … quaint! January 19, 2007

Posted by Sarah in personal.

I was just running around the library picking up some materials to look at both for my dissertation and for the abstract that Mark and I are working on.  One of the items I wanted was Sidney Aronson’s 1971 article “The Sociology of the Telephone” (International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 12(3), 153-167).  This article isn’t available online; Canisius does have the journal in bound periodicals.  Since it can’t leave the library, I had to photocopy it.  Not only did I have to photocopy it, I had to do it single-sided, since the machine that has duplex capabilities was non-functional.

It had been quite a long time since I’d made a single-sided copy of a journal article.  The Internet has spoiled me.

Now that I’m slightly more coherent… December 19, 2006

Posted by Sarah in futureprojects, personal, progress.
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When I posted yesteday afternoon, I was barely functional, having been up since 5, barely eaten (a breakfast sandiwch and a coffee at the airport, a ginger-ale and 2 bags of peanuts on my flight from BWI-BDL, a Luna bar and a diet coke, and a small bag of Raisinets), and done the defense. Now I’ve had food and sleep and the company of good friends, and I can say more about the academic bits, mostly in list form. (more…)

A Booster Shot of Confidence November 7, 2006

Posted by Sarah in personal, progress.
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(should come in a shot glass…)

As I sit here outlining the conclusion to my dissertation proposal, I’m suddenly realizing that, yes, I do have something unique to contribute to sociology and Internet Studies.

Man, that feels good.  Especially since I HATE writing conclusions.

Inconceivable! November 7, 2006

Posted by Sarah in personal, progress, publications.
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I just discovered that The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life was not in my Bookends library. Those who know me well will be shocked and appalled by this.* I take it as a sign of how little I have actually gotten accomplished in the past 2ish years (since my HD crashed in early September 2004), because I KNOW that it was in my library at that time.

In other news, I learned a few days ago that my review of Viviane Serfaty’s book The Mirror and the Veil has finally been published at RCCS. (It seems that other reviewers were even more behind deadline than I was!) I was especially interested in reading her response to the reviews; I haven’t had a chance yet to read the other reviews.

*I have, in fact, been known to literally bounce with glee when I get to discuss Goffman.