Learning to say no

At the end of last year, I went through a period of saying yes to things. Endless things and exciting events. All the things. In theory, it created a small writing pipeline that would build towards a future chapter.

Then I got acceptances and the deadlines started arriving. Bear in mind that I was doing my current PhD work and had to travel to most of these places. I did the late nights, squeezing a paragraph in here and there, managing to submit and block out pieces.

It fell apart relatively quickly. I really was not fun to be around nor producing either my best or competent work. Then I got an abstract rejection…

And I nearly cheered in a lecture hall. It was frustrating as I had spent time on the abstract. It was one less thing to think about, one less piece of research and writing to jam in. I could focus on other things.

I got a pass on an assignment and then the second rejection came in. It was on a piece that I had submitted a while ago and it tipped me over the edge.

I really wish that this Research Whisperer piece, Leveling up in saying ‘no’, had existed. It has pieced somethings together and I like the idea of the writing pipeline and time blocking. This would help with managing loads and being able to say no.

The one thing that I did not get from the post was the ability to internally say no. To want to really do something as it is fun but to realise that not everything can be done. It has taken some time to pull thing together. I have taken the rejections that I have had and taken them as advice.

I think that this might come back to focusing on an end goal. Things need to fall into that goal. As part of this, I have realised that some time there is a sanity in missing out.

Update: Avoiding The Bears has a response, Just say no, which ends:

Learn to say ‘no’, by all means. But understand what ‘no’ can’t do, too.

Saying no is political and has consequences. I am aware that I was very lucky and managed to get a couple of things accepted that may not have done. If one had not been, I would not have been in a such a state by early February.

In my case, it is a case of refocusing and using that to say no. It will need to be updated as time goes on and to accept that yes or no, actions have consequences.

eLife announce a reproducible article

Post almost as a bookmark, executable documents have been at the back of my mind for a little bit. Probably since WSSPE4. eLife have written a blog post, “Introducing eLife’s first computationally reproducible article“, about their new Reproducible Document Stack (RDS) that I found intriguing and thought provoking. It is sparking many thoughts, some of […]

Musings on GPT2 and think about culture

The Guardian had an interesting story, ‘New AI fake text generator maybe too dangerous to release‘, about OpenAI’s GPT2 algorithm. I spent some of today watching social media streams linking to the paper. I do find it intriguing that some of this relies heavily on training on large amounts of data, some 40GB in size, […]

Reducing how we feel?

Intriguing read on the nature of emotions and machine learning, Silicon Valley Thinks Everyone Feels the Same Six Emotions. The sub-heading says much but I do think that there are critical questions about how we interact with these machines to create meaning but how long before we react in the same way as the attention economy?

Travelling to the Orpheus

Having posted on recent travels, I am glad to write that I have had a recent acceptance. I am going to the Simulation and Computer Experimentation in Music and Sound Art at the Orpheus Institute in Ghent in March. The programme is forthcoming but I am excited to go there and talk.


January is being a busy month. I went to the Digital Methods Institute Winter School in Amsterdam and did some work on the ALEX (Algorithms Exposed) strand using the Facebook Tracking Exposed tool. I may write more once my part of the report is written. This week was partially spent at the Machine Feeling workshop. […]

A revisioned persona

Revisions, revisions, and reviewer comments. Words that might drive some authors insane. I have spent the last few weeks revising various pieces of work. One is a journal article and the other a piece of research work for an internal University deadline. They are different lengths and audiences. Both require revisions. I cannot say, in […]

Reality, imitation and reasoning with generated artefacts

A short post this time but I have been reminded me of something. A few months ago, news came through of the recreation of John F Kennedy’s lost speech (BBC news link) using voice synthesis. Small sections of voice with different pronunciations are algorithmically stitched together to present the whole voice as if it was […]

Science or digital culture?

I have been following a conversation on Twitter following a New York Times opinion piece about humanism: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/08/opinion/oh-the-humanities.html I agree with Douthat that anti-scientific sentiment in the humanities has more in common than it wants to admit with Christian humanism (and w Leavis, for that matter). I just don’t think that’s the path forward. I […]

A soupcon more social reading…

A short while ago, I noticed a way of reading using Twitter that I had not seen previously. It is something that I would like to investigate a little further but have parked it for now whilst I write a paper or two. I was skimming Twitter looking at something else, I saw this link […]