Speaking with my parents over Skype today, I was reminded of how difficult it can be to communicate through a speech-only medium. It’s especially frustrating when you are making the attempt with someone who you really do want to speak with, but you are having difficulty doing so with any clarity or skill. The extra fraction of a second of Skype-to-phone lag definitely contributes to the difficulty. So plainly, in fact, that when I use SkypeOut to call people, they frequently suggest going on Skype themselves so as to increase the quality of the connection.
Partly for these reasons, I am especially looking forward to seeing my mother in about a month’s time. It’s still not certain whether we will go to Malta, Portugal, or Greece – though the middle option is increasingly looking the most likely. The kind of trip that is being proposed is a package-deal type hiking trip, with 4-10km walks every day and arranged hotels. While quite different from the kind of travel I have generally done, I find the idea to be an interesting one, and one that is likely to be enjoyable. I found travelling with Meghan Mathieson et al to be especially interesting, precisely because it involved traveling in a group and according to a set itinerary that I didn’t control. Hopefully, this expedition will mimic the best attributes of that one.
At the end of this year, I think I should condense the mass of experience I’ve had here into a trio of short guides: one for people considering coming to Oxford, one for people considering Wadham, and one for people thinking of doing the M.Phil in IR. It would offer me a chance to be both balanced and concise, while offering a perspective that people may find valuable. While the information that would be included is already embedded in blog posts, I don’t think anyone is likely to go through the whole collection of hundreds of entries just to gain insights that might be better expressed in three to five pages on each topic.
I have been investigating the Oxford Environmental Change Institute and it seems like a resource that could conceivably be extremely helpful for my research topic. Their website quotes Dr. Anna Lawrence, of the Human Ecology Program, as saying: “Researchers must find ways to incorporate the experiences and values of other stakeholders in their research.” This is exactly the kind of thing I want to do: look at the means by which such cooperation and outreach is taking place. If I can find some way to get involved with this organization, it might contribute a great deal to my ability to say something new and important on the subject. While it can be difficult to deal with segregation between different areas of academia, the very lack of connections makes it a really exciting place to do work. There is much to be discovered there.
- For space travel enthusiasts, someone put a link on the blog today to a really comprehensive and interesting site about the Soviet and Russian space program. The information on launch centres strikes me as particularly interesting.
- The Google Maps images for a number of places have been updated at higher resolution. You can easily see individual people on the Millennium Footbridge between the Tate Modern and St. Paul’s. You can see the face of Big Ben. Oxford looks almost purposefully blurred compared to things around it. Lancaster is as clear as London.
- It says something about Oxford – and perhaps about political science students – that there are at least six other people in the Department at 10:30pm on Sunday night.