Monday, 23 January 2012

mind mapping software

When I embarked on this wack-job adventure of a PhD, one of the very first things I did was to begin populating a fancy shnazzy mind mapping program with every idea that crossed my mind, every article I thought I should read, every writer I thought I should know, every conference I heard of - a vast amount of stuff. Then about the second thing I did was to pay for an upgrade so that I could attach every bell and whistle known to man to these nuggets of future mental goodness.

And it was fantastic! I was sprawling out all over, investigating dozens of leads in new areas. I needed something to remind me that this was the person who wrote that, and referenced this guy's famous concept of that thing. With just my brain to rely on, I'd have felt hopelessly adrift.

But then, several months back, my project started to gel. I started confidently setting some ideas aside, and confidently knowing what I needed to know about some of the others. Trawling through my mind map became less necessary, and I became less reliant on my habit of putting everything into it.

But... now that I don't use it much anymore, I'm finding myself in a bit of a quandary. I've got thoughts and notes to myself written here, there, and everywhere. I'm not trying to claim that every fragment that escapes into digital form is a flash of brilliance, but some of them, when I run across them by accident weeks later, actually seem to make sense. I don't want to lose them, but I'm not at a point where I can turn them all into fully fledged parts of my official text.

I'm thinking of starting a new mind map just for these thoughts. But how to link them together? How to categorise? How to make sure they don't get lost, like all the other stuff I worked so hard to capture and is languishing untouched on my hard drive?

Gee, you'd almost think there was something about the performativity of personal digital media in my thesis...

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

it lasted a fortnight

I love that word. Fortnight. A big, strong night, with fourteen little blips of daylight peeking through. I had it in my head from learning French as a child that a fortnight was actually fifteen days. It's a picky, archaic little misunderstanding for an American, like misspelling some Middle English term for 'bucket'. Here, though, it can mess up your calendar completely!

My point is, I made a vow after the Christmas break to take it easier, relax, not get so worked up about things, say no to non-critical commitments that would cause me to go beyond a reasonable level of effort. The fact that the end of Christmas break coincides with New Year's means that it was, in effect, a New Year's resolution. And as of yesterday, it has keeled over. My January has gone from busy to crazy to absolutely unmanageable. The thing is, it's all such cool stuff! Workshops and conferences and symposia chock full of brilliant people doing amazing things. And I can play too, if I do the work of four people at once.

So my fortnight of sanity is over. The only silver lining is that it was actually fifteen days, my French-inspired misunderstanding of fortnight. I'm hoping to reinstate the sanity soon. Sanity II: The Return of a Restful Night's Sleep will hopefully be playing in high definition 3D Dolby surround, any day now.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

another year

The holidays have consisted of two batches of cookies, one batch of coffee cake, lots of long-cooking, decadent, savoury meals, and lots of sitting around on my butt. I have, indeed, far exceeded my own expectations for chilling out and enjoying myself.

Now the question is, how do I get back to the project without letting it overrun my entire life?

Maybe I don't...

I hereby declare that today is officially a design day. Woot!