Link roundup: lwt, giving academic talks, Indian culture and copyright, Straight White Male difficulty setting, and more.

June 2, 2012 – 11:43 pm

Learning With Texts (lwt), a program for learning to read another language. It’s like… Mel heaven. I need to boost my speaking/listening skills first, so I’ll note this and put it aside, possibly to be picked up again when I can carry on a basic conversation, since that’s a bit more useful for my purposes in August than being able to read the newspaper.

Via Jerzy, a nice piece on giving academic talks:

The point of academic talk is to try to persuade your audience to agree with you about your research. This means that you need to raise a structure of argument in their minds, in less than an hour, using just your voice, your slides, and your body-language… This is a crazy way of trying to convey the intricacies of a complex argument. Without external aids like writing and reading, the mind of the East African Plains Ape has little ability to grasp, and more importantly to remember, new information… Therefore, do not overload your audience, and do not even try to convey all the intricacies of a complex academic argument in your talk. The proper goal of an academic talk is to convey a reasonably persuasive sketch of your argument, so that your audience are better informed about the subject, get why they should care, and are usefully oriented to what you wrote if and when they decide to read your paper. In many ways a talk is really an extended oral abstract for your paper.

Straight White Male as Lowest Difficulty Setting, via geekfeminism. I wrote a similar post with a dice analogy some time back.

And via Max, a lwn article about a Nature article arguing that open source software should be a standard requirement for peer-reviewed science. Yes.

Via Sumana, a quietly eye-opening look at one exploration into Indian culture and how it might clash up against some knowledge and values we usually assume in the FOSS world, particularly those pertaining to copyright.

After significant problems with students adding copyright violations to Wikipedia emerged during the Pune Pilot of the India Education Program, Wikimedia Foundation staff set out to discover how different people connected to the program viewed copyright.

A longer pass-it-on chain: John Poelstra mentioned this, and Sebastian grabbed it from John’s blog, and so I ended up reading about building a good team.

And a fascinating approach to work-life balance.

“It’s all the things you don’t think of that you develop when you’re in a location–the pediatrician, the schools, the activities.” Indeed, Vandebroek refers to relationships with neighbors, doctors, and sitters as “infrastructure,” an investment that would take too long to rebuild if she moved. “Jobs are fairly easy to change,” she says. “Relationships aren’t.”

She has also rejected the illusion of the so-called life-cycle career, in which a rising executive tries to time moves at work to the ebbs and flows of family life. Vandebroek has always taken new jobs no matter what was going on at home–and to her, that’s the smart solution. “The more senior jobs you get, the easier it is,” she says. “You get less control over how busy you are, but you get more over decisions about when you’re busy and how you’re going to do things.” While most people equate seniority with stress, she equates it with flexibility.

I want to think this way. I want to build my life this way. (Except for the part about being a widowed mother of three young children.) I need to surround myself with people who think the way I want to think, live the way I want to live — let me pay more attention to that, because fumbling and stumbling around won’t get me far. Who has their shit together? Who do I look up to, admire, think of as untouchably cool? (They’re human, too.)

Surround me with people who’ll make me step up my game. My best friends are the ones who push me hardest; I’m the sort of person who needs (and craves, even if I fight against) tough love. Tough love that includes pushing me to rest.

I’ll do that soon.

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