A blog posting day today. This one has been swirling in my mind for a while actually.
Robert O'callahan (Mozilla) gave a talk at Vic recently (blog link
), in essence, on the impact of one's work in the world. I missed the talk, but read the slides and had a chat with Rob about this, and it got me thinking. A lot.
What impact does my work have? Well as a theoretical researcher, I'm used to the answer being none. And I've been pretty comfortable with that, I get satisfaction from the intellectual challenge, rather than the real-world impact. If one of my ideas trickles down into something useful one day, then that is a bonus.
But, thinking about this a bit more, impact is like risk - it's a two dimensional idea, in the case of impact, there is magnitude (how many people, how much you impact each person) and 'positivity' (I can't think of a better name, I mean how positive the effect is). I've always thought in terms of magnitude, implicitly assuming I would be making things better, not worse (no intention of doing research for the military, for example). But I think it is important to think in terms of both - one should strive to make one's impact better, as well as bigger.
Not sure what any of this means in practical terms, but it is a musing in the spirit of the blog's name.