Doctoring Philosophy

Monday, June 05, 2006

Ab Initio

Daniel Drezner warns grad students and tenure track faculty against getting blogs. Mostly because 'frankness' is often an undesirable quality when you are trying to sell the good stuff to a conference, a journal, a thesis committee or worse, the NIH/NSF/DARPA. I have been told it works that way for the National Endowment for the Arts too, but I am skeptical about it. Last I checked, they were all for the true expression of the soul.

The web has about 100 e6 a hundred million blogs written by grad students, quickly (and treacherously) leading the average college-educated person to the false conclusion that grad students are a lazy lot. Or that we decorate our blogs with pink pastels, all of which are rare occurences. Bitch Ph.D. might have written a cool grad student blog, but she's on the other side now. Those initials are hers already and no number of furry mouse pics will convince us otherwise. Ph.D.Comics are funny and wry and cute -- and the last is mainly what we have issue with. And by 'we', I mean 'I'. Hundreds of hours re-editing lazy 'explanations', 'sellutions' and 'motivations' will do that to you. The authorial 'we' is all right if you have MPD or part of you thinks you do. But feeding one mouth is hard enough, Multiple personalities cannot afford to survive on the grad budget.

So why the blog? Simple. For a career that beckons so many from the hallowed halls of learning across the world, very little is known about it untill you are actually in the thick of things. Even as you are grovelling to your professors for recommendations, double checking your semesterly finals for errors to ensure that A+ comes through, prepping for the GRE or writing long rapturous essays about how, even as a suckling babe, you knew that cognitive nanobiomoleculochemistry was your only calling, you have no real idea about what grad school demands of you. And how little most of the abovementioned will prepare you for it. Maybe this blog will get you the inside-groove on the PhD track. We'll talk about managing complex relationships on the fly, negotiating mammoth ivory-tower egos, tips on hanging out with the really smart AND cool profs (they are almost always positively correlated)  and more. Or perhaps, we will merely bitch endlessly. Either ways, we'll give you the laughs.

If you are already in school, this will probably tell you that life is as screwed up on your part of the world as it is on mine. Naturally, no names here. You can tell these stories elsewhere. But they'll have to start with "so this dude that I know who's in grad school got into the most godawful mess involving a silver cow-creamer, a broomstick and a croquet bat...." Capiche?