First of all two notes.
THIS COMING WEEKEND WE PLAY AT THE JOAN SUTHERLAND PERFORMING ARTS CENTRE AND THEN NOT AGAIN! SO BRING YOUR TROUSERS!
Thanks to Image Line for sending me a review copy of Groove Machine. I will write about it next time! All bribes always welcome!
Leaders in science fiction books are either engineers or scientists. The engineers are the ones that can’t get the engines to fire and the scientists are the ones that figure out that the alien mind bug has taken over the ship’s doctor. That’s ‘people doctor’ not ‘scientist doctor’. I thought people doctors were the real doctors but it turns out the scientist doctors are. Worthy as engineers are, you’d want to be the scientist doctor as they were the smart ones that won the day.
All my family are/were people doctors, the scientist doctors were quite exotic and I’d never be so clever. Then I went to university and met a few that mainly tortured rats. I was tutored by a guy that authored a paper ‘Primary Vocalisation of Pain in The Adult Rat’. You had to know just how pain they were in when they screamed, so you could write it down. Got my first degree, a Bachelor of Science. Put it in the filing cabinet, went and did music. Became an engineer.
Engineering, or production, or mule work, whatever you want to call it seemed to make more sense. You operate on a lot of assumptions and rote, every now and then convey some craftsmanship by grabbing a tool and showing just how you did it. I did music until it fell out of favour, then print layout until that turned into advertising and we got a weapons dealer as a client. Worked on a film. What now?
I returned to university, taught some music and thought that was A Good Thing. When I started I was not supposed to touch the equipment, leaving that to ‘support staff’. Drove me nuts and I finally grabbed a knob and twiddled it, which sped everything up immensely. My betters advised me that if I wanted to keep teaching I would have to become a scientist doctor. Me?
By that stage I’d noticed a few things:
- People who spend four years on a PhD may as well have been unemployed that whole time for the effect on their job prospects.
- Other people look down at a PhD as some self indulgent whimsy, and given some of the topics people choose, maybe they’re right. The only people who give a damn are other people with PhDs.
- Seems to be a sure sign that the guy is selling bogus cures or pyramid schemes.
- Research seems to be one of (a) doing the shit work for your supervisor or (b) confirming the biases of the institution that was prepared to take you on the government coin.
- When you talk about your research everyone runs away.
- No one I knew had managed to get on a spaceship, let alone mind bug.
But this was what was required and so damn it, I’d approach the problem like a good engineer. I chose a DCA. There is a paper to write, software to create, an examination to pass. But sometimes it’s hard. The other people seem to have this arcane knowledge, a secret language. They sound very clever and they are very clever mostly about the topics that fit nicely into the kind of things that scientist doctors know about. I am really impressed by the other students, who I think have been the best at their school, then the best at their undergraduate subjects, and now are crossfaded into a doctorate as the step before being a lecturer in Being Critical of Everything.
When I speak it is as if I am trying to pick up toothpicks wearing oven mitts. I try to explain about video retrieval and search mechanisms and video art and the need for music to be involved in the whole process and feel a lot like a sea lion that has managed to balance a ball on my nose but forgotten to blow the comedy horn. I just don’t know why I am included in the same ‘research strength’ where people analyse neoliberal economic policy. Maybe there was a sudden vacancy due to a student going insane.
But then I felt just as stupid when I first went back to university and still won a medal, so miracles may be possible.
I really don’t know if this award has the meaning it once did, and if it’s not that any more maybe we could go about all this a different way. The DCA is a good step as it’s a specifically geared for people that have been doing their art for a while now and just want to convert that into a recognised award. Maybe that’s why the professors don’t seem to take my wild ideas too seriously.
Anyway my supervisor basically confirmed what I already knew: the retrieval software has to get out of the playpen and start producing some damn results. So far it can search a database and pull up some video footage. Woo bloody hoo. Now it needs to animate the connections between the snippets and THAT is going to take more than my tiny grasp of SQL.