Archive for June 12th, 2008

Demi-God of public speaking engagements

June 12, 2008

According to Amardeep, it is Rushdie. Take a look at this post of Amardeep wherein he discusses his experience of attending a reading by Rushdie at Googleplex:

First of all, the turnout was striking, considering that this is an office comprised mainly of software engineers and sales/marketing people working for an internet search/advertising giant. The auditorium within the office was full, with about 200 people — about what you might expect to see at a college or university with an English department. Quite a number of people had copies of Rushdie’s new novel with them. In short, Googlers read.

Second, the reading was being teleconferenced live with three other Google offices, which you could see on a screen projected behind Rushdie’s head. (By contrast, when we have readings at Lehigh, we have enough trouble just getting the microphones to work…)

Third, in keeping with Google’s “do your thing” office environment, there was a bright red exercise ball just hanging out on the floor of the auditorium, about 10 feet from the podium. It was unclear to me whether it was there as a seating option, or simply as decoration (the bright red goes well with the Google office’s bright, “primary colors” palette).

Amardeep also links to some of the online resources which Rushdie used for his researches while writing his latest book. Take a look!

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Advice for young academics: web presence and CV preparation

June 12, 2008

Eszeter at Crooked Timber gives some pointers on both.

Here is the one on the need for web presence:

I’ve been continually surprised over the years about how many academics fail to take advantage of the Web as a medium for disseminating their work. This seems especially important in the case of those actively seeking a job in the near future.

Whenever I go to a conference, I’m on the lookout for students doing interesting work. Recently, I saw a few impressive presentations and wanted to follow up by learning more about these students. I know we’ll be hiring next year and I wanted to share information about these potential candidates with my colleagues. I looked them up online so I’d have more to go on. Nothing. This is an opportunity missed.

What should a basic homepage include? It should have information that a CV would contain, but the nice thing about a Web site is that it can easily include additional information. In the least, abstracts of published papers would be helpful. Of course, most helpful is to have full copies of these papers. While copyright issues may arise, preprints are almost always okay to post.

Although I don’t encourage students to post too many details about papers not yet accepted for publication, it is possible to mention one’s areas of interests and expertise and that will give visitors a better sense of one’s work than no information whatsoever.

Here is the one on how your CV should look:

One way to approach putting together one’s CVs for an academic job application is to look at the CVs of people who’ve gotten jobs recently, jobs of interest to the candidate. If someone’s been out for a few years, it’s fine to ask them for a copy of their CV from the time when they were on the market. (On that note, it’s also worth asking people for a copy of their application letters.)

That is just the beginning; Eszeter goes on to give suggestions about order, formatting, submitted papers, paper under review, manuscripts under preparations, declined awards, dissertation abstract, and tailoring for the job-specifics. On the whole, a must-read post.

Influence of typewriter on Nietzsche’s prose style!

June 12, 2008

Sometime in 1882, Friedrich Nietzsche bought a typewriter—a Malling-Hansen Writing Ball, to be precise. His vision was failing, and keeping his eyes focused on a page had become exhausting and painful, often bringing on crushing headaches. He had been forced to curtail his writing, and he feared that he would soon have to give it up. The typewriter rescued him, at least for a time. Once he had mastered touch-typing, he was able to write with his eyes closed, using only the tips of his fingers. Words could once again flow from his mind to the page.

But the machine had a subtler effect on his work. One of Nietzsche’s friends, a composer, noticed a change in the style of his writing. His already terse prose had become even tighter, more telegraphic. “Perhaps you will through this instrument even take to a new idiom,” the friend wrote in a letter, noting that, in his own work, his “‘thoughts’ in music and language often depend on the quality of pen and paper.”

“You are right,” Nietzsche replied, “our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts.” Under the sway of the machine, writes the German media scholar Friedrich A. Kittler, Nietzsche’s prose “changed from arguments to aphorisms, from thoughts to puns, from rhetoric to telegram style.”

From Nicholas Carr’s essay in Atlantic — Is Google making us stupid? Link via Stackoverflow.

By the way, the essay is a must-read piece of the week! Have fun!!