Informatics: my ode to Eastcoast Rail

Today’s running theme was around methodologies of creativity. I had a hot chocolate with a fellow writer in the morning and we were chatting about what it means to research creatively; does using quantitative (traditionally the realm of Science rather than Arts) data collection techniques interfere with the creative processes being analysed? How can we measure intangible things such as wellbeing or enjoyment? When can failure actually mean success? The latter was particularly relevant to both of our Creative Writing PhDs (I finished mine last year, Alison is part-way through) since discovering something doesn’t work and why it doesn’t work is surely more useful than getting something ‘right’ without being able to say why it works; but knowing when to abandon an unsuccessful experiment in favour of an alternative approach feels a bit like jumping from a runaway train. Talking of which,  Alison also introduced me to the concept of the one-word-sonnet: a fourteen line poem with only one word per line. Here’s on off-the-cuff example I’d like to dedicate to my attempts to write online during my commute from Newcastle to Edinburgh last Sunday, inspired by East-Coast Rail’s dubious wireless provision in the Standard Class carriages and the hour-long delay outside of Morpeth.

Wired

Up

Waiting

Out-patiently

Travelling

Nowhere

Fast

Still

No

Connection

To

You.

Word(s)

Fail.

On a less snarky note, I was delighted to hear that a few MSc students have expressed an interest in the projects I’m named on. Final decisions at the end of this week, so fingers crossed still. I was especially pleased to hear that the reason they were interested in those projects is because they also write creatively since the products we hope to produce from the projects are aimed to facilitate the craft and process of writing.

Jon and I talked through plans for next week’s workshop based on the 100 word statements researchers need to write about their work in preparation for the 2013 Research Excellence Framework (REF). If you’re interested in seeing what such statements look like, check out the ones submitted for the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 2008. The workshop will be turning the key concepts of Significance, Originality, and Rigour upside-down to apply to researchers’ personal rather professional lives to see how that changes the language and engagement with the writing. This year citation counts for submitted research won’t count, which led to a discussion about how one quantifies achievement without using numbers (this paper is important because X people have cited it). Which is akin to trying to prove that a novel is a bestseller without being able to back that up by stating the number of copies sold.

The link-of-the-day award goes to my brother for sending me a video demonstration of some new research into improving the texture of the e-book experience (one of my main, luddite gripes).  In other news, I went back to Ada & GIL today and re-drafted the synopsis. Very satisfactory procrastination. I also discovered a soup van on George Square and had red pepper & ginger soup; highly recommended. He parks opposite what I think is the psychilogy building (other side of the square from the University library).

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