Making space for research
I’ve been putting extra effort into the janitorial task of community building over the last couple of years.. For example chairing the first “Live Interfaces” conference, and the 2nd FARM workshop, co-organising the Dagstuhl workshop on live coding, co-editing special issues, getting funding, organising events and establishing a presence for the live coding research network and TOPLAP, and helping make space for algorithmic dance music culture to grow and spread and maybe someday free discussion to flourish.
I love this stuff, but it’s been a distraction from what I probably “should” have been doing — writing my back catalogue of theses and papers up into journal articles, and establishing next steps, as a basis for my next fellowship application. I haven’t directly benefited from a lot of this work, being unsure about the morals of submitting to your own journals and programming yourself into your own academic conferences. It has been massively rewarding though, and I’ve tended to dislike career mindedness, and avoided thinking about measurement and end-points, rather than the substance of the journey.
I’ve been far from alone in all of this, and these activities have grown their own life. Live coding communities are popping up everywhere, the 2nd Live Interfaces conference is being taken in a new direction by Adriana Sa in sunny Lisbon, and Algorave has gone crazy. Now that this exists, and my postdoc fellowship is coming to an end, it’s probably time to think more locally.
So I’m really happy to be starting the Weaving Codes, Coding Weaves project, stepping into a new direction with really inspiring collaborators. I’ll be working on that three days a week (it says here), which does leave me some time for other things, but I’ll be focussing more on local activities around Yorkshire, especially my home town of Sheffield. There’s still four or so more live coding research network events to collaborate on, including a conference which I hope will be really fun, but after that I think I’ll have paid my dues, and will be trying to explore some of the space we’ve created.
Just a shift in focus though, nothing major.. Maybe a reminder-to-self to carry on making things.
Many “career minded” early-career researchers would kill to have such a portfolio of research event organising, funded network running, plus concrete proof of impact (others picking up on your lead) and public engagement activities too (evidence of press etc). You call it janitorial but to many it’s prestigious. But yes of course it helps to get the papers in too…