I wasn’t going to write a round-up post this month because, frankly, there isn’t much to show for the last 8 or so weeks. Or, at least, there isn’t as much as I wanted to. But, in the spirit of transparency that I try to bring to this blog, here is my modest summary of what I have been up to, in the last couple of months.
Before I do that, though, let me just share with you how proud I am of the teen. Not only did she do very well at an entrepreneurship programme that she completed at MIT, this summer (which included surviving her first experience of living in a dorm), but she also did brilliantly on her GCSEs. This girl amazes and humbles me. Every single day.
So, here we go.
I am working on a proposal for a project investigating how social media may help small organisations obtain customer insight. The idea is to work with around 10 small organisations (and, if you have ideas about how to give back to the organisations involved please share them with me).
Plus, on the last day of August, I got two invitations to join project bids that sound super exciting. I can’t share the details, yet, but I am keeping all my fingers crossed for these ones. And, what is also interesting, is that both came because of social media and this blog.
This is where I feel a complete and utter failure. After going through an extended period where I had a great writing routine, and I made good progress on a number of writing projects, I entered a stage where my writing is foggy, and is difficult, and is very, very frustrating. As a result, I haven’t submitted much in the last months.
I feel really bad about this because I love(d) writing, and because I feel that I am leaving my co-authors down.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I have done a lot of soul searching about why my writing is suffering, I identified various practical and emotional barriers that were causing the problem, and I am taking steps to address them. I managed to get some good writing done while I was in Boston; I have been writing daily, again, since I came back to the UK; and I am generally feeling much better about the whole thing. Yay.
Hopefully, in the next round-up, I will have good writing news to share with you.
I had various meetings with MSc students regarding their dissertations, and a Skype call with a new PhD student, with whom I am very much looking forward to start working.
Then, I also started preparing a module that I am starting to teach this semester. I am not too stressed about it because it is a subject that I am very familiar with. Nonetheless, I can’t just reuse the materials that I have because it is a new (to me) format, and because the topic (Digital Marketing) is always changing. So, there has been a lot of thinking about the structure of the course, the pedagogical approach, the assessment, and so on.
Summer is a time when I get a chance to read outside of my topic area. Accordingly, I have learned several new things, some more interesting than others. Here are two that I would like to share with you.
The first one is this short talk*. In it, science and technology writer Clive Thompson discusses the relative merits of handwriting vs typing. He says that handwriting is best for tasks related with the absorption of knowledge such as taking notes or engaging in big picture thinking. Handwriting, including doodling, helps with retention and learning, as well as creativity. In turn, typing is best for tasks related with the production of knowledge such as writing reports or essays. Typing helps to capture and iterate the ideas in your idea, and the faster you type the better you become at turning your ideas or knowledge into something tangible.
The second one is this paper, where psychology researchers Cassie Mogilner and Michael I. Norton review what makes people happy. Their research caught the attention of the media some time ago, and you may have read the headlines around their key finding that experiences make you happier than accumulating stuff. The bit that I want to emphasise, though, is their discussion about the role of special vs. mundane experiences. Mogilner and Norton report the work of Zhang, Kim, Brooks, Gino and Norton who:
“asked people to create ‘time capsules’ of either mundane or out-of-the-ordinary daily events. When participants viewed their time capsules months later, those who rediscovered ordinary experiences were happier than those who rediscovered extraordinary experiences; people were more likely to have forgotten their mundane experiences, thus feeling greater joy from the chance to remember.” (pp14-15)
Our family experienced exactly this when, this summer, we spent some time cleaning and organising old digital files. While we enjoyed going through pictures and short videos from special moments like trips to Disneyland, what really got us laughing and talking were the digital memories of perfectly ordinary moments.
So, that was my summer. How did yours go? Here is to a great September.
* Which I first saw here.