Then and now

Just came back from a conference on “migration, mobility, and borders”, organised by and for our doctoral researchers. Interestingly, I was invited to give a ‘career talk’. My immediate suggestion was to bring in a career consultant instead, but for a combination of a couple of reasons, I ended up doing the talk. Come to think of it, I have been living and working among doctoral and early career researchers for almost 15 years, while being required to monitor the latest developments in the sector, so I told myself that I might indeed have one or two things to say about for their benefit.

Considering the theme, I prepared my talk along the lines of the increased expectation of (early career) researchers to be available/willing to be globally mobile. That is just one of the many, previously non-existent expectations imposed on the current generation of PhD candidates. I included this image (as a GIF) in my slides because every time I see it, I think of them. I honestly do.

Here are a couple more items that highlight how far things have changed in the PhD game.

# 2015 advice for your 856-year-old Ph.D. (Christian Sandvig, 5 August 2015)

Academic superheroes? A critical analysis of academic job descriptions (Pitt & Mewburn, 2016)

100 years of the PhD (Bogle, 2017, Vitae)

# The UK doctorate: history, features and challenges (Deem & Dowle, 2018 [email of 12 January 2019)

# “How I Got My First Academic Job, 1965 ed” (@profmusgrave, 20 March 2019)

# Thesis declaration, now and then (source: Got this off Twitter two months ago, but despite my best efforts, I can’t trace back to the original link. Let me know!)

+ Speaking of thesis declarations, see also Stephen Hawking’sone that broke the internet.

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A gendered tale from South Korea

Global Digital Futures – E09. Molka and Online Violations of Women in South Korea

I was honoured to be invited to the SOAS Coding Club, a student-led radio station on campus, the first tech one at that, last week to talk about the ongoing molka epidemic in South Korea. When the host Chipo and I were discussing a possible podcast on my latest essay on the subject and picking a date for recording, obviously we didn’t know that our conversation would be aired amid newer and bigger scandals such as a K-pop idol and his involvement in running a club that has been alleged to be a ‘date rape hub’, another K-pop celebrity being caught for years’ worth of sharing of his sex videos (filmed without his partners’ knowledge) with fellow celebrities for male bonding, and the arrests of two men for secretly filming 1,600 hotel guests and streaming the footage live as pay-per-view porn.

There is so much to process here, but in the meantime, I have listened to the full 26 minutes of recording – despite the inevitable cringe that comes from listening to one’s own voice!!! – and realised two errors I made that I would like to iron out.

  • I should have said passers-by, not passer-bys. (15:52)
  • It was the Prime Minister’s Office that tweeted out those ridiculous anti-molka cartoons, not the Ministry of the Interior and Safety [let alone Internal Affairs]. (19:40)

Anthropology in the digital worlds [2]

Earlier this week I organised a lecture by a Professor of Anthropology on ethnographic methods for doctoral researchers across other disciplines. I stayed for the full session myself too. As I have said on this blog repeatedly already, my attitude towards anthropology is like that of a fangirl. I admit that must have a lot to do with my romanticised idea of the discipline. Nevertheless, my suspicions were confirmed when the professor said that anthropologists have a special relationship with ethnographic methods, feeling that they *own* the methods, even though the methods are now popularly used in many other disciplines too. (In fact on several occasions he used “anthropological methods” and “ethnographic methods” interchangeably.) And it broke my heart a little when he described anthropology as distinct from studies of texts, archives, and … the internet. It didn’t seem that anyone was bothered by that split-second remark, but to me it felt like someone closed the door on me – a door to a cool club that I was snooping around, hoping to be invited in.

Anyway, it was a fantastic talk and I was able to take away many gems of reading suggestions.

Thesis Psychosis [4]

Saw a YouTube video of this song on a random blog many years ago. I liked it, but after that blog disappeared I couldn’t recall for the life of me the singer’s name. So, the video became one of those things that I don’t think about at all most of the time but when it springs to my mind out of the blue I will do some obsessive searching for in vain and leave until the next time it happens. Or to be more factual, one of my many digital objects of procrastination.

Then last week it just came back – equally out of the blue. Not the very same rendition but I take it.

Computer says so. [2]

Couldn’t get this out of my head either. Also remembered this clip where a 72-year-old vlogger, Korea Grandma, was grappling with a self-service kiosk at a McDonald’s.

RT @AskAKorean This image haunted me for this seollal. On the crowded LNY trains, all the old people are in the standing seats because they can’t figure out how to book tickets online […] (5 February 2019)

LNY is a big holiday, so lots of Koreans travel home. Train tix for LNY sells out within minutes of being available for sale. And most of them are snapped up online. If you don’t know how to book tickets online, like many old people are, you are often out of luck.

The article describes old folks who show up to the train station hours early just so they can have a shot at buying train tickets. When they’re lucky enough to do so, they are often relegated to standing tickets. Hence, the messed up trains where only the old people stand.

S Korea is the most wired society in the world, and it often decides to simply let people who can’t keep up stay behind and suffer. I hate seeing this type of scene happening again and again.

Happy Korean New Year [3]

Had a shaky start to 2019. Was down with the flu early January and I was out of commission for a week. It was a record in a sense. In the past, even when I was unwell, I didn’t usually take more than one day off, and I would still check my work inbox occasionally throughout that day. This time I was barely able to sit up, let alone move around, for one whole week. So I ended up doing nothing but drinking lots of tea and water while watching, in a half-asleep state, the full series of Parks and Recreation for the first time. The lesson of all this might have been that I am no longer that youthful version of me.

Anyhoo, because of this ordeal, I didn’t get to make any New Year’s resolutions. However, a good thing about being from a lunar calendar culture is that there is a second chance!

Well, actually, my resolutions are always the same: less sugar, less screen time on commute, and sleep earlier. Always these same ones, always failing to keep them, and always rolling them over to the next year. As a desperate measure, I have turned to audiobooks — something I would never have imagined myself doing. I don’t even like ebooks that much, so this is a pretty big leap for me. I am pleasantly surprised so far with this new commuting experience — but don’t confuse my new found love for audiobooks with how I feel about commuting.

Most importantly, happy Korean New Year!

Another day, another life hack

Today my news feeds are marked by a new Gillette ad on ‘toxic masculinity‘, the #BrexitVote in the House of Commons, and a new Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Among these equally significant topics, one that has created most buzz, at least in my little social media bubbles, is the so-called KonMari method. We don’t have Netflilx at home, but I gather that her approach to books does not bode well with my friends and colleagues. Apparently she has said that books are first to go when decluttering the house and that the ideal number of books to own is less than 30. Hmmm. What is this familiar feeling? Right, this feels almost like the time when I was shown a picture of books arranged by the colours of their covers.

Konmari or tsundoku? The unbearable lightness of getting rid of books (Sue Carter, The Star, 11 January 2019)

Then once again the answer was right under my nose.