"Real Artists Ship"

Colin Johnson’s blog

Archive for November, 2013

Declension (1)

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Shouldn’t that be “Habemus Pizzam”? (from Vatican City)

Pizza place called "Habemus Pizza" from the Vatican

Making (1)

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

“What have you been doing?” “I’ve been Sugruing a duckhead”



Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

I’m increasingly getting emails of this kind, which begin by apologising for not being spam and then spam you. Or, which say things like “We know that you signed up to not get any email from us, but…”

Hi, You probably get enough spam in a day, right? So, strangely, this is my attempt to avoid spamming you. I'm compiling my email newsletter list for my agency -

Share and Enjoy (1)

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Sharepoint: A system which replaces the frustration of “where the fuck did I put that email with the documents attached” with the frustration of “where the fuck did I put that email with the link to the Sharepoint folder”…

…which you then don’t have the permissions to access when you find it!

Academic Spaces are Consulting Rooms

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

What are academics’ workspaces about? There is sometimes a view, commonly shared across administrators and architects, that they are “offices”, and that the vast majority of work is desk-based, working at computers or with books or papers. There is also a vague idea that this is a bad thing, and that things would be in some vague way better if people weren’t “siloed” in offices, and instead in some kind open-plan spaces where they might “communicate” better with each other (about what, is usually unstated). This might just be a half-arsed excuse for money-saving.

The idea of desk-based work is emphasised also by a view that they are “studies”. This is often offered as counter-narrative to the open-plan idea, it being seen as important to have individual workspaces for this.

I don’t recognise either of these models. Rather, my room is more a “consulting room”. Looking through my diary for the last few weeks, I am in my room for about half the time, the rest of the time I am teaching, meetings, interviews, at lunch, etc. I have about:

  • 4-5 hours of meetings with PhD students and postdocs;
  • 2-3 hours of meetings with project students;
  • a few short meetings with students about coursework, progress, or staff-student liaison issues; say about 2-3 hours a week. A number of these are rather confidential;
  • a couple of formally arranged meetings with colleagues for an hour or so each;
  • a few shorter meetings with colleagues; similarly, a number of these have confidentiality issues;
  • a couple of Skype discussions with colleagues elsewhere for 2-3 hours total.

So, a total of around 15 hours a week of being in my office talking to people.

The idea that I could work in an open plan space and “book meeting rooms” for occasional meetings is risible. Academics’ workspaces are closer to GP’s consulting rooms than offices or studies, and we would regard it as ludicrous to say that GPs should “book a consulting room” on the odd occasion that they see a patient.

Mission (1)

Monday, November 4th, 2013

When organisations become confused about their mission, they drop their full title and insist on people referring to them by just their initials. This way, the public is confused about their mission, too, and so all is well and good because everyone is on the same page.