Saturday, April 01, 2017

A few short cranky thoughts

1. Every attempt to manage academia makes it worse. I'm enough of a hippie to think you should actually just pay them without measuring them. Or maybe measure them once per decade or something. I've never met an academic who was anything other than suuuuper driven. These aren't the people you need to be micromanaging.

2. Every time you say "just" (as in "just one thing" or "can you just do this for me"), an alarm bell should go off in your head. (kind of like the bell that should go off when you say "well, actually...") What it often sounds like you're saying is "I want you to do this thing, but I don't want to be indebted to you for it, so I will minimize it. I want it to be easy. I'm going to act like it's easy, even if it's not."

3. As your job gets more intelligible to outsiders, it gets easier to connect it to some values in your life. That is nice. Doing user research is often more intelligible than software engineering, and as a result, it's usually easier to say "yep, this will actually help people." However, it also means other people think they know how to do your job too. See also: bikeshedding.

4. In SF (/the Bay Area, and other large metro areas), you can have anything. Restaurants, bars, shops, coffee, parks, weather, theater, arts, interactive theater, escape rooms, talks, Burning Man hackery, etc. On the other hand, no one human can possibly take all that in, so it sometimes feels a little immature to live here. Like, you haven't figured out what you want and what you don't care about, so you just want it all. There's some maturity in knowing what things you want less than other people.
On the other other hand, you can't say "well, I only care about theater, so I'm going to move to Theater City." Fair point.


ih said...

Perhaps another consideration wrt "just":

"It makes sense to tech-industry veteran Ellen Leanse, who explains that women overuse the word just, which sends “a subtle message of subordination.” "
And then later: "“But if they talk in ways that are associated with authority, and are seen as too aggressive, then that, too, is their fault when people react negatively.” Asking women to modify their speech is just another way we are asked to internalize and compensate for sexist bias in the world. We can’t win by eliminating just from our emails and like from our conversations."

I'd find a better source, but I'm lazy.

Dan said...

oh yikes. huh. I didn't see that angle, thanks for bringing it up.
Tati and I were just talking about this and we can see two ways, depending on the power dynamic:
- if it's your boss saying "can you just do this thing" then it sounds like the thing I'm talking about.
- if it's you asking your boss (or a peer) "can you just do this thing" it sounds like the thing Ellen Leanse is talking about.
does that match your experience?

linky because blogger is this 100-year-old platform that doesn't automatically linkify:

Adam Jaffe said...

I've been researching my ideal city recently and need to remember your final point; I sometimes feel bored and restless in Atlanta, but there is already way too much to do here. It simply requires sitting through an hour of traffic to do those things.
"Theater City" exists and is also known as Chicago or Minneapolis, btw.

Dan said...

Yeah. I guess there are other quality-of-life amenities besides just "things to do", like:
- the weather being nice all the time
- not sitting in traffic for hours
- not having lead in your water
so you have to decide how important all those things are. being here feels like having all of them (except the traffic thing, if you're commuting to the south bay). and you can have them all, but you have to pay for them - I feel like a wiser version of myself would say "well, I don't really care about the weather, or the burritos, or (other SF thing), so I'll move to Chicago and pay half the rent."

and nah, even Chicago's not theater city! I mean, they're good at theater, but you're paying for a lot of other things to live there too. I guess my point is, you can't totally a-la-carte your city; you can't say "well, I don't have kids, so I want to pay $0 taxes for schools" or "I don't want baseball, so I want to live in SF but without a baseball team so I don't have to deal with those crowds."