Thursday, May 28, 2009

Internet Intervention

I guess it is time that I admit it. I have a problem. I am addicted to the internet. With my laptop frozen and my daughter's trojaned, access has been difficult and slow. Nothing gets me as angry as quickly as losing my internet access. And I seemed to have passed this peevishness onto my daughter, who gets somewhat nasty when she has computer problems as well.

Usually, the problem is with my DSL connection at home, but that has been surprisingly stable for months with only a few disconnections lately. With a research trip next week, I have good reason to be anxious, but perhaps the occasional disconnect would not be a bad thing. I might end up reading or writing--that is, stuff that is not on the net.

It is amazing how much has changed since my career began not too long ago in a country not so far away.
  • I am now considering ditching all of my old journals, and I have already reduced my subscriptions because I can now access most academic work (other than books) online.
  • While writing this post, I engaged in a quick chat via Facebook's chat with a graduate student who is currently trying to interview members of various militias in the Middle East. We have used other chat programs as well while she wonders for 40 days and 40 nights.
  • I just had my RA download the automatic recordings of my Intro to IR class last fall so that I have my stuff backed up. I don't listen to what are essentially Saideman lecture podcasts, but my students apparently do.
  • The trip planning has been greatly facilitated by email and the internet. I cannot imagine doing this part of the project--interviewing in France and Germany--without these wired connections.
  • I hardly ever use the phone--either for teaching or research. Students reach me by email, especially since I work at home as much or more than I appear at McGill. And my professional contacts are almost always by phone. Using the phone is now frequently pre-arranged via email.
  • I am finally investing in learning Endnote so that I can just write stuff and then change the format of the notation when I figure out where to submit the it.
  • My understanding of probability and of risk has greatly improved, although not always consistently.
  • My second book was much more a product of electrons than the first--as I sent chapters back and forth with my co-author (the non-terrorist Bill Ayres), to friends for comments, and to the publisher.
Of course, this all comes at a cost--distraction. I find myself grading slowly and reading slowly as my attention shifts to various webpages (academic and less so). When I am really into something, particularly writing or data analysis, I tend to be more focused. Hence the really slow grading.

Good thing I have a third laptop in reserve (and a fourth and a fifth, due to a lab that was built for me when I arrived), although this one is a brick.

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