Friday, July 10, 2009

Banquet Speech

Last night was the conference banquet and William Cook gave the speech and it was good. I thought I would blog about it now, while it's fresh in my mind, even though this post will be out of order.

The speech involved William doing a strip tease from industry suit to academic shorts and t-shirt; luckily he stopped there (but kudos to SPJ - "we want more!").

The theme of the talk was industry and academia and also a bit of motivation for academics. There were many interesting points raised, including: industry are not as slow/conservative as we think; industry have lots of ideas - problems and solutions; industry need complete, not partial, solutions; and many more.

One point I thought was intersting was about the WWW: William wondered why it was an industrial, not academic invention, and suggested this was a shortcoming of academia: apparently, the fundamentals were done in academia, but putting it all together was not "publishable" and so was never tackled. I think that this is a perfect synergy between academia and industry. Academia tackled the fundamental problems, which it was it does best - small, difficult, abstract, and, presumably, not commericially viable problems., and insustry used the academic research to produce a 'product' - something academia couldn't do easily because it requires a lot of work, and shouldn't do, because it involves work that is alredy well-understood.

The other thing that made me think from William's talk was his idea that one should have a "purpose" in research or anything else. I tend to have short term goals, but realise that I have no longer term purpose in my research. I thimk, this has been something I've been looking for, subconciously, but haven't yet found. And he is right, that nearly all academics who I look up to, have obvious purposes in their work (although often more than one, it seems). So the search is on!

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