If nobody speaks of remarkable things
For my digital scholarship book I wanted to take a random working day and record my working pattern and my use of technology. Yesterday was that day, and so here is my account:
Before breakfast, while getting my daughter ready for school and feeding the dog, I do my morning communications check, including email, my blog and Twitter. Via the latter I see that Scott Leslie has posted a response to my blog piece on reductionism. Scott is someone I have known online for a few years, but finally met this year. We have been debating this topic in some detail over the weekend on twitter. We have differing views but the discourse has proven, I think, to be mutually beneficial in developing our own thinking. I also see that Google have donated $100k to Bletchley Park in order to try and keep Alan Turing's papers in public ownership. I respond to a couple of comments from the previous night when I had tweeter that I was seeing the film The Social Network.
After my wife and daughter leave, I go to my office to work. As I am writing today my intention is to not engage too much in online chat, so I don't have email or twitter open in my tabs in Google Chrome.
Before I start work on my chapter I post a comment on Scott's blog post, and send a tweet seeking confirmation about the Bletchley Park news (it having only appeared on Twitter thus far). I also bookmark a blogpost on the crowd sourcing of educational tools by NMC, which came to my attention because it is tagged ''digital scholarship' and I have a Google Alert set up for this term so I get daily emails for results.
I then start writing – I have amassed around 30 articles, blog posts and reports for my chapter on academic publishing. These have been found largely through search, following references and names in some papers, links that have been passed to my by my network and my own references that I have collected using Tumblr. All of the articles are open access, although I spend a frustrating half an hour trying to locate one reference which seems to have disappeared.
After writing for most of the morning I take a break, and during this mentally compose a blog post, which some of the book authoring has led me to. The post, around 500 words argues that scholars have failed to take ownership of their own practices, particularly with regards to technology. This will form a theme in my book, so I decide to test it out by blogging it. I quickly find a creative commons image to use in my post, and it only takes 15 minutes to write as I have much of the material to hand. I post it, announce this on twitter and then return to my chapter. Later I want to follow up a particular argument around costs so search for references and find four good articles.
In my afternoon tea break I compose my a photo for Flickr. I am not a very gifted photographer but I am currently undertaking the informal 'photo a day' project, and am on day 170. Having taken my photo, uploaded it to Flickr and tweaked it with the free online Picnik tool, I take a look at some of the recent uploads from my contacts.
I also check Twitter and see that two people have retweeted the link to my blog post. I check my blog and see that it has had around 170 hits today, which is about normal. In my email there is a message confirming that i am speaking at Cardiff Business school on Friday. This talk has arisen due to a contact I made at the regular social media meetings that were organized in Cardiff.
For my final push at writing for the day I write up the notes of a talk given by Mark Patterson of PLoS, which I attended in Cambridge the previous week. I check some of my notes and find references for this at the PLoS site.
Later that evening I take my daughter to her horse riding lesson. I take my iPad so I can finish reading Anya Kamenetz's DIY U which I have as a Kindle book. I also make some notes for this post.
What does this digital scholarship snapshot tell us? Firstly, it's quite traditional. This is partly because I am writing a book, but it is also representative. I didn't spend the day overlaying different data formats or creating a musical mashup, or anything exciting like that, I spent it writing. Related to this the technology used is fairly simple – there are no specialist tools in use here. There is a mixture between the professional and personal in their use. Even on a relatively unconnected day when I am engaged in the solo pursuit of writing I still maintain social connections with a global network of peers. A significant point is that there is a vast amount of high quality information available to me without leaving my house. I like the way that different elements of work fit in the elements of my day and that there is a wide range of granularity of outputs, from writing a book to individual tweets. Lastly, these are small, subtle changes and yet the way they intermesh to create the fabric of a working day is, I feel, quite remarkable. We've just become so habituated to them that we fail to appreciate this.
If anyone else would like to share an account of a normal working day, I'd love to read it. It is in this detail that the real changes are revealed.