Monthly Archives: July 2006

I wish I had read this in grad school

A research dictionary

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via: digg

My favorite explains what the thanks footnote really means.


Why have the fancy voice menu system

that asks you many questions, since you repeat the same answers when you speak to a live person?

How unlikely is it that you speak to a human in the end?

Is there some security reason for the multiple replies to the same questions?

It makes me feel that the firm I am calling does not value my time at all. I have already paid them once I am using the menu system. I could use a competitor in the future,  but all their competitors are about the same. So my bargaining position is a bit, shall we say, weak.

The best of jobs and the worst of jobs

Doing galley proofs.

That is all.

A useful skill

via: digg

Good advice for research as well.

Micro Persuasion points out the power of the positive side of the force, and the weaknesses of the dark side of the force. It is good advice for how to influence other researchers in the longer run as well.

Replace ‘blogger’ with researcher, links with cites, and so on. Here are some snippets but I found the whole thing a valuable reminder. I am going to keep it in mind the next time I hear the after-talk whiners, the moaners, and the strategic citers.

Micro Persuasion: Only Generous Bloggers Influence:


He said that to build a network you must be generous. This got me thinking. How generous are individual and corporate bloggers? The answer is some are very generous, others completely aren’t. And those who are generous are by far more successful and influential than the rest of the pack.


Then there are others – and I won’t name them – who are not generous. In fact, even worse, they are grievous. They syndicate snippets rather than publish full text RSS feeds. They don’t credit other bloggers who they clearly steal content from. They are filled with just nasty criticism, rather than a balance of ideas and constructive advice. They focus solely on themselves and not an iota on others. I have unsubscribed from all of these blogs. They’re just not worth my time. By the way this doesn’t just apply to bloggers. It goes for comments too. I ignore any trash that people leave on my blog or others and only focus on that which is constructive feedback (positive or negative).

The generosity dynamic that exists in the blogosphere is really important. If you want to have a successful blog – one that is read frequently by even a small audience of import – you have to be generous. There’s no way around it. You have to lavishly dish out links, advice, news, ideas, commentary, freebies, you name it. It’s up to you. However, if you’re going to live on the Dark Side of the blogosphere and be stingy, you will live a lonely life.

I think that the article brings up some questions—which came first, generosity of success? Given your talent, and output, is generosity always the way to be most successful, or is there a tradeoff? At least in research, I think that there is some ambiguity here. But being a selfish jerk does seem much less pleasant.

What you will be working on in five years?

Perhaps one of the most useless of all job interview questions.

I often find myself surprised when I think about my paper topics. My early work was on one topic, but I have worked on problems in many different areas of my field. As I learn new things, I find new stuff to work on. I don’t know if it is overconfidence or not, but I feel that with enough work, I can do things in many areas. And have.

I bring this up, because I have been dealing with (early) PhD students, and I now recognizee that their ability to work on different topics can predict long run success.

Most of the good people in my field write interesting papers in many subfields—evidence that many of the skills that good reseachers have are not topic specific.

Learning new things is fun; and doing so is probably why some people don’t burn out, but keep doing research long after there are many external rewards. I wonder if doing research across multiple areas might not be a good predictor of a long and active research career.

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The last rule is a doozy


But it makes sense. Any idea what ride?