Three Judges & a Prosecutor

OK so itâ??s not really about judges and prosecutors. The date for my thesis defence looms closer and I thought that I might introduce you all to my three judges and my prosecutor. Actually itâ??s my examination board and my discussant.

My discussant is Professor Jonny Holmström from the Department of Informatics at Umeå University. He has worked diverse areas from IT innovations within organisations to file sharing. I have not met him yet.

My examination board consists of three people: Ulf Petrusson, Agneta Ranerup and Jan Jörnmark.

Professor Ulf Petrusson is Director of the Center for Intellectual Property Studies and wrote his thesis on the patent strategies â?? he continues working in the field of intellectual property strategies. He was also my teacher in my introduction to intellectual property when I was an undergraduate many, many years ago.

Agneta Ranerup is an Associate Professor at my own department. She has worked in the field of eDemocracy in particular the use of web-based service in the citizens choice of governmental and quasi-governmental services. Her work points to the fact that design choices play an important role in democracy.

Jan J̦rnmark is an Associate Professor at the Department of Economic History at G̦teborg University. He is also affiliated with Chalmers Рthe technical university in G̦teborg. He has done work on globalisation and also technology. He also has an interest in deserted places. I have met him on a few occasions.

So these are the main actors in the process â?? along with the audience and me. This is a good group so the process should be an interesting one. It should be a nice affair â?? Feel free to drop by if youâ??re in town.

Georges Rouault – The Three Judges circa 1936

Responsible Design

From Question Technology come this story of grocery-carts with built-in TVs for your kids to watch while you shop.

OK so this does not have the same dignity as the mobile execution centers (death vans) but what were the designers thinking? What are the store owners thinking? and finally what are the parents thinking?

Does the designer who creates something like this even stop to reflect about the long-term effects of his/her ideas? Or is everything just a cool wacky idea? In Swedish we have a phrase which fits perfectly just now: Jag blir trött translated this means: I become tired. The phrase reflects the tired feeling one gets when acts of stupidity abound and your personal energy to fight is on the decline.

I WANT RESPONSIBLE DESIGN!!!!

Sorry for shouting but this pisses me off. Boy I am grouchy this morning…

Headless Chickens in Academia

I donâ??t know but I have heard â?? as probably most of you have â?? that if you cut the head of a chicken it may run around even without a head. Now, for the popular scientists out their PLEASE donâ??t take this as a call for experiments â?? leave the chickens alone.

The term headless chicken may come from the (in)famous story of Mike the headless chicken which is basically the story about a chicken called Mike who lived for 18 months after his owner had chopped his head off (more on wikipedia).

The term has come to symbolise a high level of pointless activity. For me the beginning of term is the period of the headless chicken. Lots of staff & students meetings and loads of mail from students who could not be bothered to read the online instructions. The mail and meeting are actually meaningful to the other participants (at least I really hope so) but at the end of the day I have the feeling that I have not accomplished anythingâ?¦

I want to call the society for the prevention of cruelty to academics… Well at least it takes my mind of thesis-anxiety.

The ungood system of academic publishing

Another text on Free Software that I have written has been accepted for publication. This is good news. But then I read the rather draconian copyright and licensing rules which the publisher wants to apply to my text.

Basically the ideas remain mine but if I want to present them I have to re-write the ideas from scratch.

The author retains the rights to any intellectual property developed â?¦While the author may use any and all thoughts and research results developed or accumulated while working on a manuscript, and may rewrite, update, and re-title them for use in other publications, â?¦ the author CANNOT use the verbatim text of the manuscript or any part thereofâ?¦without first obtaining the written permissionâ?¦

From my limited experience this wording is pretty standard. From the academics point of view I â??needâ?? publications. But the situation becomes strange when the topic I am writing about is Free Software which has a large focus on openness and the freedom of ideas.

Let me just point out from the start â?? there is no limitation on the reader to read and develop the ideas. They just cannot slavishly copy the text.

My niggling concern is the fact that I am paid by an organisation to do research (and teach). So I spend my time gathering information and thinking about the implications of what is occurring in my particular field. I may even have applied for public grants to do this work.

Once I write down my thoughts the only way for the others to gain access to them is for my library to buy the book so that others can read it. Which basically means my university is paying twice for this information. First for me to think/write and then to obtain physical access to the information.

Even though I dislike the contents of the copyright agreement I have just signed it did not prevent me from signing it. The problem is one of incentive structures. Had I written the work and then just posted it to my website â?? it would not have been worth anything to my academic peers and therefore to my academic career.

The academic text only becomes valuable after it passes through the quality control system which is in the hands of the publisher. Without a publishing house behind the text the information contained therein is not seen as knowledgeâ?¦

Fear of Graduation

The Greek word for fear is phobia. Today an accepted decision of phobia is a strong, persistent fear of situations, objects, activities, or persons…

Yesterday I signed off on the manuscript of my thesis and today I have been followed by an evil thought that I have made a mistake. Nothing precis or definate – just an idea that I have missed something. A logical gap, a lethal flaw. It’s probably the fact that this project has been with me for too long and the last year has been incredibly intense, that now when it’s done I do not feel releived – I feel worried.

So I am playing catch-up with all my todo lists. Carrying out the more or less mechanical administrative tasks that are a part of life. But my brain will not let me relax. The problem is that I cannot define what it is I am afraid of. If I could then I would prepare…

So it’s the fear of the unknown – which is Xenophobia… Not a good thing to become xenophobic. Maybe its the fear of graduating… Thats it!! It’s because I am about to break Newton’s Third Law of Graduation!

Jorge Cham – PhD Comics

tis done

Today, after spending the whole weekend re-reading and correcting, I approved my thesis manuscript for publication. This means:

1. The printer is pressing the big button

2. There is no turning back – on 2 October I defend

3. No more changes can be made to the thesis

The sensation is one of relief and anxiety. What if I have made a huge error in the middle? Have I said too much? Too little? Have I missed a weak spot in my arguments etc etc. Soon (very soon) the answer to these questions will become clear.

The whole final text and images of the cover can be found here.

comfortably numb

The song Comfortably Numb is one of my favourits from Pink Floyd’s album The Wall. The lyrics reflect a “coversation” between Pink (who has passed out in his hotel room) and the doctor who is attempting to treat him (or drug him) so that he can perform. The first verse here is the doctor followed by Pink’s reply:

Hello.
Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me.
Is there anyone home?

There is no pain, you are receding.
A distant ships smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I cant hear what youre sayin.
When I was a child I had a fever.
My hands felt just like two balloons.
Now I got that feeling once again.
I cant explain, you would not understand.
This is not how I am.
I have become comfortably numb.

Why post this today? Well I have been sitting re-reading and correcting my manuscript and the phrase comfortably numb is actually quite representative of how I feel.

Not a fashion blog

This is not a fashion blog. I have no intention of attempting to bore you with pictures of what I am currently wearing (or not wearing) but I want to share with you my latest purchase.

After looking at these online I was very happy to find them being sold in a store locally. The shop is called Minni Ekoaffair on Sveagatan 3 in Göteborg.
We’re using 100% organic hemp, which is processed with natural methods such as water retting, eliminating the need to use chemicals. The Blackspot Sneaker has a rubber sole and a toe cap that is 70% biodegradable, whereas The Unswoosher has a sole made from recovered car tires. We’re not currently using water-based glues, as they lack permanence so shoe longevity suffers. The white anti-logo and the red splotches are hand-painted, and the soles are stitched, glued and embedded for extra durability.
This makes it one of the world’s most environmentally friendly shoes. In addition to this they are union friendly and anti-corporation.
The Blackspot Anticorporation and the Blackspot Shoes venture are projects of Adbusters Media Foundation.