I’ve had dry spells in the past on this blog, but this has been the longest. A lot has happened.
In December, I completed, and successfully defended, my PhD in sociology! Finally! It’s been a huge relief to be done and have that part of my life behind me. While I applied for some academic jobs this past Fall, nothing has panned out and I’m mostly out of the academic world these days. Not entirely though: I’m still working with The Society Pages and Contexts, keeping the servers running in the engine room for both sites and doing some podcasting and editorial work for TSP.
As a grad student I got interested in studying the culture of open source software, and I’ve now officially gone native: working as a web developer full-time. Most of my time there is now spent working with Python and Django, which I greatly enjoy: both are elegant, powerful, and fun. We’ve been working on a particularly large Django project for the past year now that has been a great learning experience. If I ever get around to posting here again, there’ll likely be some Python and Django-related posts sharing what I’ve learned.
After spending nearly a decade pursuing a PhD in sociology, it’s been a bit of a mental adjustment to get used to the idea that this is now my career, not sociology. On most days, however, I’m happy with how this has turned out. There’s an ideal vision of what life in academia is like that I know I would love, but the reality is often pretty far off from that. Plus, I’m pretty pessimistic about the direction higher education is heading in this country.
More concretely though, I think there are several aspects of my personality that are just better suited to what I’m doing these days. For instance: I don’t have the right kind of long-term patience for academia. For example, my advisor and I have an article scheduled to be published this Fall. It was accepted by the journal last Fall. We finished writing the article last Spring. It’s based on research I did in 2004. So in academia, in other words, you’ve got to be in it for the long haul. Compare this to what I just said about about web development: in the time it’s taken this paper to go just from acceptance to publication—nevermind the actual time spent doing the research and writing!—I’ve learned an entire new programming language and web development framework. And I’m sure there will be others in the next few years. Software development is a fast-moving field. Sociology is not.
Let’s see…what else is new?
That’s about it for now. Hopefully it won’t be another 10 months before I post again!