Sunday, October 19, 2008

Quiet

Am I the only one who thinks this is a quiet time in the science blogosphere? Seems the only thing people are discussing lately is the economic crisis or the US presidential election. I've been wondering whether this is a non-linear feedback effect. Typically, if I get many emails, I write many emails since I'm already at it anyway. Similarly, if I'm at replying comments, I go check some other blogs and keep on typing.

Anyway, in case you haven't yet noticed it's THIS time of the year again - this time when the postdocs are getting busy with updating their CV and checking the job postings. And as things are, this year I'm again on the market, so I'm spending my time writing research statements and research plans and grant proposal and so on. Meaning I won't have much time to blog also in the coming weeks.

20 comments:

Robert said...

Boy am I glad I don't have to do this anymore --- at least for some time. This can be so frustrating. And we still lack a centralised procedure like a single web page where candidates can post their cv's, where they would like to go to, have referees upload their comments and research groups browsing the market rather than filling in about a dozen different web pages with all differen upload requirements and then send lots and lots of letters....

Bee said...

Hi Robert,

Indeed, I was thinking the same. There are some pages where you can upload your CV/research interests etc in a database but what I'd really like to get around is this collecting of addresses and trying to figure out who wants what documents and how many letters to what address, email or snailmail or both and so on. What I'd actually want to do is check some boxes of jobs I'm interested in, upload my files, type in names of referees and be done. Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

“Am I the only one who thinks this is a quiet time in the science blogosphere?................. Anyway, in case you haven't yet noticed it's THIS time of the year again - this time when the postdocs are getting busy with updating their CV and checking the job postings.”

Damn now you’ve blown my theory apart for I thought that science blogging might correlate to the prevalence of sunspot spots:-) More seriously I wish you of course good hunting and I’m confident wherever you turn up your blog presence will be maintained as I feel certain it has become part of your being.

Best,

Phil

Uncle Al said...

You should not be seeking a new position, Bee. Found a central clearinghouse for the annual filing process. One form, one data cache, international in scope. Software does all the nuisance work surveying good matches, filling in non-standardized submissions, and massively spitting paper back in governments' faces for visas and other certs.

Would it not be grand for each open faculty or foundation position to receive not 10 or 30 idiosyncratic applications but 300 or 3000 perfect ones?

Then Google Employment buys you out for a $3 billion. Uncle Al expects a mere 5% finder's fee (not greedy!). The idea is the hard part. Any strong back can do the labor. "8^>)

Giotis said...

Hi Bee,

I get the feeling that not only the blogosphere but the whole world is quiet. Quiet and tired. Is this an omen of the depression that everybody is talking about? And moreover this would be just a temporal economical depression or the first sign of a declining civilization?

Maybe Oswald Spengler was right when he was talking about the decline of the west. Have you read it?

BR

Bee said...

Hi Giotis,

No, I haven't read it. But I've seen Idiocracy, which very aptly describes the decline of the West ;-) If 'depression' means the world is more quiet and is slowing down in its pointless attempt to outrun itself, I am looking forward to it. It is funny though to imagine the information ping-pong on the internet does reflect the 'mood' of our societies and lets it become measurable on a local level, don't you think? Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Uncle,

Sure, I've had the same thought, and I've plenty of other ideas how to improve the world (some of which you might find on this blog). However, unless absolutely necessary I would prefer not to spend the time of my life with software development. Best,

B.

A. said...

Hi, bee, well, not that I can offer any job now, but I'm interested what kind of job Would you like (if you don't mind posting that here. if you do, mind that is, anyway we wish you very best in your endeavour)

ps. the world is quiet because everybody is at the dentist, and you cant even scream there ;)

Andrei Kirilyuk said...

Robert, Bee and Uncle Al, you certainly can't be so na├»ve as to think that subjective humans can permit an objective machine to do a key-choice work for them: not only science but all human activity has always been based on those subjective, “personal” choices, especially when it's the choice of another, “proxy” person... You can find the proposition of a more realistic, human-based but eventually much more objective and efficient science organisation in my papers (http://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0403084, http://arxiv.org/abs/0705.4562). It's a market-like system and is as efficient as market exchange in economy (with occasional crises in this case being inevitable but still relatively modest payment for the general prosperity growth!). What is important with respect to application (financial support) procedures is that now it's not researchers that are running after support but on the contrary, a whole variety of project-promoting agents and bodies is looking for the best possible support for a given project (and having as their incomes reasonable parts from successful project support/realisation). In this case the same subjectivity is used in an efficient and pro-science way. A researcher should only ensure his/her research results, while everything related to “presentation”, promotion and competition for support is done by those “knowledge traders” (with a small, more pleasant than hard participation of researchers).

When stated, it becomes evident that it should only be like that, in any truly efficient science system. If a project has no true, objectively provable value (as confirmed by proposed explicit problem solution), then it should not even be started (talking about “adult” science, after all “education” stages). Now, if a project is objectively interesting, why should a scientist that ensures the efficiency of content be so closely occupied with very practical issues of its best support or maybe even practical application of results? There should be some special, directly interested (small) enterprises (profession) for that, practically absent in the current, centralised system. Of course, in order for all of it to become real, that system itself should be replaced by a qualitatively different, market-like, distributed one, where every creative researcher himself, rather than various formal and informal “bodies” and “authorities”, will be the main, truly independent (and therefore creative!) actor of the whole process.

It's interesting that even not-so-creative researchers, as well as current “science bureaucrats” (praising themselves as “science managers”), can acquire quite creative and (unlimited) richness-bringing profession of those various (independent) promotion/interaction/development agents, which would need a scientific qualification but also various practical, more common skills. In today's system all that creativity and its fantastic possibilities are lost and everybody suffers: “true” researchers (rather a smaller part of today's formal research profession) have huge difficulties with their typically “breakthrough” project funding, “moderate” (reproductive) researchers cannot realise their true creativity either while spending their lives in fighting for “support” most often attributed to useless subjects and directions (in any case, there can be no true competition), and various “true” science traders and promoters simply cannot realise their potentialities (because today's science “management” is only miserable, corrupt imitation of creative science development...). As to science results, everything is lost which could be gained, so that instead of a new, highly needed progress we have only deepening decadence and catastrophically peaking number of old and new “unsolvable” problems.

So, maybe it's “quiet” not only because of “applications” but like it happens before a storm?! Let's hope for the best (even if it's only a small victory with a next banal application), but let's not forget about the truly best, which is always the same: explicit, provably consistent problem solution (that of efficient science organisation in this case).

stefan said...

Dear Bee,

If 'depression' means the world is more quiet and is slowing down in its pointless attempt to outrun itself, I am looking forward to it.

Have you seen the Special report: How our economy is killing the Earth in the New Scientist? Sounds very similar! The issue will be to live with no growth without feeling "depressed".


Cheers, Stefan

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Stefan,

Interesting article, from which also the scientists themselves are faced with a question; that being to ask if the expansion of science and more generally knowledge is also limited by the scale of our economy? I would ask for instance if projects like the LHC or better yet the future exploration of space is dependent on it? My main criticism is that the premise is false as it lacks imagination, where it is thought that somehow we can’t have a robust economy without destroying the planet. Personally I find this attitude to be both unenlightened and unscientific. It also has another false premise underlying in it being that change is somehow unnatural, which I find more in line with the thinking of extremist religious thinkers rather then being one of true scientists.

Best,

Phil

Phil Warnell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phil Warnell said...

Hi Stefan,

Just as a follow up, it’s not that I believe that we can continue on our current track, it’s just that I’m saying the track to be taken next must be much better defined, outlining goals and methodologies that are based on promise not on fear.

For me environmentalists when they imagine a new world should imagine one where we might actually like to live, rather then one we are forced to accept and have to suffer with as being the only logical alternative.

It is here that I find that science has the most important role and that scientists themselves should more often present, represent, promote yet more importantly implement these ideas and plans. I then propose a new party and political movement which we might call the "New Scientists Party", with absolutely no pun intended.

Best,

Phil

Plato said...

Quiet can mean "taking stock?"

Old School and Dogmatic thinking and you may have a socialist scientific agenda in that election process?:) Colin who? How does one equate a cry from the "old school" and see "such change is needed?"

When looking at the trends of resource use I wonder if the trickle down effect actually works under a capitalist/socialist agenda? Maybe a control of the market sees a naturalistic tendency to helping the plight of the poor?

While thinking about the "logical alternative" I sense the need for a real scientific look at the math behind it all? Such enlightenment might think it is totally abstract without an emotive function to it's evolution and a thinking, as to the divisive robotic nature of the enlightened human being. :)

WE know such constraints of money natural trend one to calculating what "shall come first" and then all else to follow. Then(suffering science) under a free and democratic society when all is healthy and culture progresses, and one learns to understand that it's this way in one's personal life too.

How can one be so disenchanted from understanding this simple process?

Best,

Plato said...

Hmmmm.......

I would expect under the ole school, a recursive slide(extremism) as an alternative by implication of an opinion to an ideal of the world "without borders" under a capitalist intent to such a scientific process?

To be smudged by suggesting a faith based belief system as evidence of this "socialist agenda?"

World without borders under this new scientific understanding of "sociology" would then be compatible with the evolution of human species?

Neither to abstract to disregard the real thinking aspect of the human being and the progression to advancement placed in all those scientists who that money trickles down too.:)

I guess, there has to be some poetic understanding to the rhythms of the times?

Best,

Plato said...

Hmmm.....

BY nature then and such evolutionary development one can progress?

Social Sciences?

Does this then capture the meaning of "scientific progress" in the understanding of the human species or does the "physics approach" somehow embue a greater understanding to economy and social order?

"Taking Stock" can have wide and applicable meaning to countries and societies and even to individuals, as to how their futures can be progressed too. What time alloted to cultural expressionism under such conditions, as to say "all is well" and society is indeed progressing?

Best,

Bee said...

Hi Phil,

On the risk of disappointing you, blogging has definitely not become 'part of my being'. One could say possibly writing is part of my being, but I don't feel particularly enchanted by the medium of blogs specifically. Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

“One could say possibly writing is part of my being, but I don't feel particularly enchanted by the medium of blogs specifically.”

Understood, I think! None the less, if what you write is made somehow available to read it will form to be something I will continue to enjoy, even if it turns out that I will have no way afforded to make comment upon it. Either way I would feel no disappointment ;-)

Best,

Phil

Bee said...

Hi Phil,

Thanks :-) I presently feel somewhat like I've run out of words. Written too many emails, letters, research statements, drafts, proposals etc. Makes me wonder whether there's a daily reservoir of words that can get exhausted? Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

“Makes me wonder whether there's a daily reservoir of words that can get exhausted?”

I would suspect it has more to do with the person themselves becoming exhausted rather then the word reservoir. This more likely indicates it’s time to relax to permit yourself to simply observe rather then expound for a while. I would suggest serving yourself some of that Ebbelwoi which your other half recently described as to aid in allowing your energy reservoir to return to more normal levels.

Best,

Phil