Profile: Occam’s TypeWriter
Occam’s Typewriter is a community project to bring together current and erstwhile scientists who like to write. We have all been blogging at various places over the years, independently and on networks. But we felt that the time was right to create an independent network, so we could all have editorial freedom yet also have the benefits of a community of bloggers.
We all have different styles, and we all like to write about non-sciencey things, as well as the scientific life. Some like to write about papers and research; others would rather take a more anthropocentric view. And some combine all of this, or would rather talk about their hobbies and their cats. It’s a real mix: what unites us is that we all are or have been practising scientists, and we can’t help but write.
NoteStreams By Occam’s TypeWriter
Everyone’s a critic. But how good are people at taking their own medicine? Any why should writers strive to embrace and even welcome constructive criticism?
Academia may be little better or worse than many professions for gender equality – law or medicine being obvious parallel examples – but we do seem to be increasingly measured in ways that look robust but almost certainly aren’t.
New lecturers are encouraged, possibly even compelled, to allow themselves to be videoed giving presentations/lectures so they can improve their teaching styles. However, I must admit that by the time I was offered the opportunity I figured I was so set in my ways that it would be all but impossible to amend them. So I declined.
Technical glitches during talks are all too common, but never easy to cope with. Recently I had a simple talk to give, one which could safely be brought along on a memory stick to the event: I was giving a brief talk to a CUSPE meeting on ‘Effective Policy to Bridge the STEM Skills Gap’ in which I had only a handful of slides with some relevant data on, plus a few striking images of the sorts of things that deter girls from sticking with subjects like physics at schools. I couldn’t imagine a problem.
How wrong can one be?
I have never previously sat down and thought about my style of speaking, or what I feel the necessary ingredients of a good talk are beyond clarity and coherence. And keeping to time. And that the slides are visible from the back of the lecture theatre. And that you’re audible. And….You will see why I realised as I started putting my presentation together for this talk, that actually there were a lot of things I felt quite strongly about. I may not have been used to articulating them but nevertheless I ‘knew’ at some level what I thought was important (though in fact most of the talk won’t be about giving talks).
I have to disclose that, even as a young girl, I’ve always found that pregnant women look very strange, and often rather uncomfortable (I even felt a bit sorry for them). This hasn’t changed over the years, and neither did my feelings about pregnancy in general – not when I was pregnant with my first child almost ten years ago, or now with my current pregnancy.
My email inbox is also a good indicator of people’s expectation that we are all procrastinators. How many emails do you get a day headed ‘Last chance – fantastic offers end tomorrow’ or ‘Final Days to Register for…’. We are presumed to respond to these last minute opportunities, rather than opt for something in a stately and timely manner well before the deadline.
Does this matter?
Yet another anniversary for Winston Churchill has just past, with the 50th anniversary of his death falling on January 24th.
One of my aims over the coming months must be to get more familiar with the life of Winston Churchill, since I will now be so closely associated with his name and his legacy.
Like so much about Churchill, his views towards science and scientists seem to have been very complex.