Wednesday, June 1, 2011
As readers might have noticed, in the recent times I have been focusing on the problems of Academia. Why? Should not one just focus on one's work? Of course, focusing on one's work is one's biggest contribution. But, globally seen, one can hardly avoid considering the enormous amount of time and energies wasted just because of rivalries and all sorts of purpose-less figthing. In other words, universities and other research centers could achieve much more, if only their team were not busy with internal quarrels. Hence, I think that it makes sense to try to ameliorate the status quo.
I just read in a non-academic blog (the well-known blog by Seth Godin) about an interesting paradox, i.e., people usually do not want to be reminded of what they can do, but chose not to do, although they do not mind day-dreaming about what they could do (if only they could afford it, if only…). They read about cars they will never buy, but are irritated by reading about the TV they could have bought, but chose not to.
This might happen also in the Academia. Colleagues who are too old to travel abroad to conferences, might be positive about more mobility within the department. But colleagues who have chosen not to travel to conferences (e.g., because they are too shy to present their ideas to a wider audience) might be seriously against it. Because the very fact that someone else does it, forces them to reconsider their options. And this is painful.
My proposed solution: belittle yourself. Say that the option you are fighting for is almost insignificant. Make it appear non-appealing, so that the colleagues who have chosen against it, but are afraid to regret their choice are not brought that far.
Do readers have better solutions? And what do they think about the general problem? Did I describe it correctly?
On team work, see here and here. On the risks of criticising the academic establishment (and the need of criticisms), see here.