Small Daily Events Academia Dismisses for Granted

Why small daily events academia takes for granted are the ones you must allow someone to ...drop you a message about it on the spot

From 2008 to … !20801 I was enrolled in a Ph.D. part of a research project in the area of the durability of concrete. The project included two other institutions plus the one where I was working. After the initial meetings, I was assigned the task of developing a theoretical model, and while on it, the other two institution’s researchers agreed on sending research data they produced back to me, for model improvement and validation. This was in 2008, history happened as everyone knows today, everyone went their ways. Since then, no other contact was made nor any data sent to me for that particular research project.

The years went by, and by the time I was sacked for someone else at university Nova de Lisboa, the project had changed its original scope. On those days I insisted on, and eventually, a skype meeting happened, this time for announcing a replacement supervisor. Nothing more until I got a #gig, again, at the same university, on another research group. Since I was around, again at the university, I decided to inquire about my Ph.D. This last time, the replacement supervisor, advised me to, “why not do some mortars instead of concrete”2. At that time I was holding a draft thesis document, I had previously sent by email, and for both my supervisors’ doodle and comment about it. The draft document contains a proposal for a diffusion model, based on Einstein’s diffusion, a calculation of the sum result of random collisions between ions in a medium. In the last presential meeting, with the previously appointed and now my new supervisor, hearing from him proposing some mortars for the experimental work was something surreal. Considering all that did not happen that should have happened and no one took time to assess or talk3 about it openly.


And that is what I consider to be the major limiting factor in academia for what is already here. The impossibility of handling feedback and rating on what is happing not only at the laboratory but also above, at the office, and elsewhere.


Most of the time, when things do not go right, the best practice put in place is to simply ignore and through it “under the carpet”, slowly, really slowly so everyone misses the opportunity to understand what is really happening. However, there are other situations, simpler by nature, a good scientific researcher must be attentive all the time and every time he (or she) asks a student to do something, in particular, anything at the expense of the student, in time, and on his wallet. And I’m referring here to really small quantities of time: 15min, a few cents.

I’ll make a pause here, to narrate some of my previous experiences when working in academia. The last time I worked as a researcher and as a part-time #gig. This was in 2018, I was asked to design some wood molds and contact the local carpenter shop to build them. The project leader at that time, when all prepared, told me, to grab my personal car to pick up the wood pieces previously ordered. No student says no, I did not either, however, the fact is, I never got a thank you for the trouble nor did I got paid for that personal expense on both mobile calls and a few km of travel.

Almost 10 years earlier, a colleague of mine, and at the same university, one day, arrived at the office, really angry, ranting about a researcher and how he somehow took advantage of him and his work. Something about authorship in a paper. This went on for more than one week and as a result, affected the mood in “my” office and my productivity.

These are the, already, known problems anyone doing scientific work faces every day.

Those who know me, know I like to cultivate an open, more informal environment at the office and in the lab, in particular about what is troubling those around me. I like to hear feedback and ratings, as we all got used to when reading online over the past 10 years now: about work and also about the social environment. An AGILE way to develop and deploy scientific research work.


But what happens when, literally everyone, starts commenting and grading openly and publicly all things happing during the workday at the laboratory?


This is the reality being offered by the so-called “5G tech“ or in layman terms, live events, happing on the spot, all day long. In the past couple of years, I’ve listened to many fears about the dangers of this technology, and more recently, during my masters in artificial intelligence, the severity of such dangers reached its peak, protagonized by a robotic “super intelligence “ with beyond human intelligence capabilities. The solution proposed during the master course and as is advertised on the European commission websites, is to open up the black box in AI models, for anyone to know and infer its intentions.

And all that is wrong and exaggerated.

The following is what one can expect, realistically, from a #live workaday reality. I will be using the previous authorship example here to depict what I’m hugely summarizing in this article. Paper publications authorship rants will become less and less frequent, and instead one can expect to hear instead, other types of authoring rants, in size and dimension to the workday happing. And since everyone can read and comment about it publicly, those under fire will also have the opportunity, to not let it linger too much in time (and accumulate for a later heavy fine), instead, have the possibility to make arrangements accordingly and in agreement with all involved. After all, a research paper takes 15 days to write. A paragraph on it, one morning.

And this acknowledgment in the way of doing work is what is necessary to start and understand edge computing technologies, in particular remote IoT devices placed everywhere outside the physical constraints of a research laboratory. To learn and know, data is prone to corruption, data is prone to variations on the same observations. And we humans are part of it too.

One final request, before I end this article if you’re up to it, and in the “spirit“ of a #live and AGILE environment, when you find an error, a #bug in this article, drop me a message on Twitter, to find out what happens next. And what new meaning brings to you as a reader, considering what is being addressed here, the great reset of 2020.


It’s Wednesday, it’s sunny. Don’t forget a long walk in a nearby park. To relearn what is nature.

Until next time, don’t forget to share, and if possible, subscribe for fairness4 of work and a fairer economy, or instead buy me a coffee and promote at the same time open source writing.

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1

went on a limbo, to this date still waiting for feedback from my main, first, supervisor

2

a week later of some kindly asked me to check with the secretariat to make do with tuitions

3

censorship fears promote this kind of events

4

this article took approx. 2h to produce. only basic, semi-automated, revisions were made to the text.