“….students should think about leaving their doctoral program if they have major life changes that alter their goals, if they lose interest in their topics or if they are generally unhappy.” - Andrew J. Hunsucker 2016 “ When should Your Quit Your Phd?” ACM Magazine, Winter Edition pp. 12-13
For gods sake. Seriously?
I’ve completely shifted from a socio-technical fanboy to a robust skeptic skirting around topics with a socio-ethical overture. My heart almost gave up and my partner also completing her PhD at the same time saved my life enough for me to make sense of what topics were even salvageable from the plethora of rubbish I set out on to play platitude to.
My partner and I are currently wondering how we will pay any bills this month and both of us have had nervous breakdowns with sick children, house moving, overseas trips, interstate project disasters, broken hand and a string of things that would make anyone wonder why on earth you would stay doing a PhD. If were were to base quitting a PhD on generally being unhappy then we might as well give up on a career entirely.
"...Sometimes it take a great deal of change and shifting to move from or through states of unhappiness to points of stable thinking to other points of tortured reflection."
So lets switch to a topic that in fact is likely to be a whole chapter in this PhD. A conference no less than the 'ISTAS13' IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society - Smartworld: People As Sensors. To be perfectly honest I now consider the idea of planning and convening an international conference as a shoe in compared to the extortionate amount of time I spent assisting as Publicity Chair for the conference which was held at the University of Toronto, Canada in 2013.
Literally hundreds of unpaid hours meeting online or building the main event website.
I recall work at the Australian National Data Services (ANDS) at the time and using a great deal of my time that I should have been occupied at work instead running Skype calls with the conference Committee which was comprised of my Supervisor, Professor Katina Michael and a number of characters from IEEE and other fields of technology orientation.
After a brief meeting with the Chair of the Committee I noticed glaring anomalies with the proposed running of the event, the budget, the venue, the catering company and a number of other logistical nightmares. In my discussions with my supervisor and at her invite I was nominated to the Publicity Chair and proceeded to connect the event to activities I was across from a number of other networks via the Internet. After a few failed attempts at meeting as a committee we discovered the the Chair was in fact on holidays and that unravelled a series of correspondences and ultimately a vote of no confidence in the Chair. Fairly unprecedented I’d imagine for a beast as big as IEEE.
a year of planning and funding granted to travel to Toronto via Washington;
a year filled with many Skypes calls;
the formation of the event website which started in Squarespace and migrated across to an IEEE sites location;
blogging to Uberveillance.com through that time;
almost a month away from family;
meeting a whole range of stakeholders and delegates;
a media statement distributed;
...and all of this overlapping with my work with IEEE SSIT setting up their new website.
I was also presenting, working, travelling, authoring and so on through this time and so without a timeline I’m scrambling for where this all fits together. I’ll need to get that operational in Scrivener and match it to the archives I have in the Lacie drive I think. That way I can also update from Figshare and Archive.org and so on all the various things that make up the PhD….that timeline I think will be critical.