PhD acknowledgements: the YouTube version

Although I haven’t actually had my thesis bound yet, I thought I’d celebrate just a little anyway. So I made a video that I hope does a better job of thanking the people who cheered me up, listened to me whinge, or made me laugh while I was doing my PhD than the ‘official’ acknowledgements ever could.

If you had even the tiniest bit of co-present fun with me at any point in the last three years, chances are you’re in here somewhere. If not, it’s only because I didn’t have a photo of you.

alternative link.

Oh, and the music is for Jules and Jaz (who both quite like Missy Higgins), and also Anne (who hates positive, jangly-guitar folk-inspired pop music like this with a passion). Besides, the song is getting so much mainstream radio airplay right now that the day I submitted my thesis will be forever linked to this moment in the history of popular culture. (or, i just like the jangly guitars).

no title necessary

I just got my PhD examiners reports via email after a long day at work. Both of the examiners say that no corrections are required in order for the degree to be awarded (although there are lots of productive comments and suggestions about what I might extend/improve on for publication, pretty much all of which I agree with). The long and the short of it is that once I’ve printed my thesis and bound it and had the research office sign off, I’ll be a Doctor. I am in serious shock.

Refer to the previous post for the appropriate soundtrack to this moment. And without wanting to intrude, I can’t help but note that Trine’s video of David’s PhD submission used the same song as I wrote that post about. Perhaps it was a good omen?

Leave your requests for drug prescriptions in the comments.


…to the phd.

I submitted my thesis for examination today. But not before:

  1. getting a flat tire on the way to work yesterday
  2. my ibook’s hard disk dying, also yesterday, subsequent to which…
  3. While waiting for my new macbook pro to be formatted (WOO!), I completed the edits on a windows machine, which then…
  4. crashed, meaning that
  5. for some reason, the final version of my thesis doesn’t open on a mac
  6. So I had to borrow a windows machine to do final, final edits and printing

Throughout all of that I was ridiculously serene and faintly amused, which is not like me. I don’t know what’s happened to me really, especially considering I’ve just lost all my emails and word docs since last October, which is when I did my last proper backup (except for my thesis drafts, which I was paranoid about, thank god). I feel more than a little bit silly about being so lax about backing up data. But as for the phd thing, maybe all the external fuck-ups helped me to be less paranoid about my fear of complete failure. Anyway, it’s printed, bound, and officially under examination, 3 years to the day after I started. Which is not a product of my virtuosity so much as it is a product of my clenched-jaw pragmatism, because…

As of today, I’m a postdoctoral fellow in the Centre of Excellence in Creative Industries and Innovation at QUT. More on that later, for now, just a weird surreal feeling. I can’t describe how light and strangely undirected I feel.

But I do have plans for the future, big ones. More after I stop floating.

PS if anyone has any ideas about how I might rescue the word document so that I can actually do the inevitable corrections on my Mac, please, please, let me know.

tagcloud of my phd

This is a tagcloud that I generated from the text of my entire PhD thesis at tagcrowd. I don’t know what it tells anyone about the thesis itself, unless you put a lot of faith in word frequency. But there’s something immensely pleasurable about it for me. I was strangely excited waiting for the fraction of a second it took to generate the cloud.

6 days to go…

created at

final seminar done

Last Friday I presented my final PhD seminar in front of a pretty substantial audience and an internal panel. I was unusually tense but I got through it without falling over. I enjoyed the Q&A with the audience, who threw in some pretty tough questions on issues that I had skated over in the presentation but will now argue through more carefully in the final draft. Most useful of all was the generous feedback from the panel, who gave me some very helpful advice about how to draw everything together into a more substantial conclusion and how to amplify the significance of the work. Which was great because there’s so much going on in the thesis, and because of that I’d been floundering around and hadn’t really even attempted a proper conclusion chapter yet. So on towards completion I go.

Naturally, the drinks afterward was the best bit, especially as it was a double celebration – Jaz very successfully got through the confirmation process on the same day. This week I’m getting out into the real world for a couple of hours each day doing some digital storytelling stuff. Hope I can remember how to talk to actual humans.

small announcement

On Wednesday I submitted a draft of my thesis to the faculty research office, leading up to my final seminar, which will be happening next Friday the 8th of December, 12-2. Producing this draft nearly killed me, but not quite, and I was determined to do my final seminar before the end of the year, so I can (hopefully) submit by the end of January.

It’s more of a speed bump than the end of the journey, but the final seminar is a good opportunity to make an assessment of the thesis and work out what needs to be done to get it ready for examination. I already have a list of things that need to be done as long as my arm, but am really looking forward to hearing from people with much more perspective on it than I can possibly have right now. And the seminar is a great opportunity to attempt to tell the story of the PhD, and articulate what its contribution to knowledge might be, in 40 minutes. Anyway, a few of my Flickr research participants asked to be notified and there were a few other people who said they were interested,
so email me for details if you are outside of QUT and would like to come.

Much more fun news: Mel’s book launch was a great way to celebrate getting rid of my draft, and there’s lots of photos at my Flickr page.

And tonight I have one of the hottest tickets in town–I’m off to the opening of the Gallery of Modern Art, or GOMA for short. I hope I get to say g’day to Wayne Goss–the first (and last) time I met him was when he was doing a speaking tour of the University of Queensland residential colleges in 1989, trying to get the young folks to vote the Labor Party, with him as Premier, into government in Queensland, and usher in an era of massive political reform post-Fitzgerald Inquiry. Which we did, and now we’ve got this kick-arse new gallery as well.

just (describe) it

Someone in our AoIR panel on Friday asked me if I was ‘using’ Bruno Latour and/or ANT, and I more or less denied it, probably misinterpreting the question slightly, under the influence of adrenaline. Anyway, afterwards I realised that I was far too flippant in my response. Because of course, at least implicitly I kind of am ‘using’ it.

Quite by accident, I ran across this Dialogue on ANT by Latour soon after having the thudding three-fold realisation that:

1. the reason my word count isn’t screaming along as fast as I know it could be is that I’m being far too parsimonious in regard to description;

2. I should avoid the endless roadblocks I create for myself by ‘reconceptualising’, at least for the moment, and just write my way through all the stuff of my case studies; and

3. that’s how I’ve finished everything else I’ve ever finished writing.

Since that head-slapping thunderbolt hit, everything’s going smoothly again. Perhaps the infamous word count picometer may even return soon.

So, anyway, here’s Latour in Socratic Professor mode:

Student — May I politely remark that, for all your exceedingly subtle philosophy of science, you have yet to tell me how to write one…
Professor — You were so eager to add frames, context, structure, to your ‘mere descriptions’, how would you have listened to me?
S — But what’s the difference between a good and a bad ANT text?
P — Now, that’s a good question!
S — At last?
P — At last! Answer: The same as between a good and a bad laboratory. No more, no less.
S — Well, okay, um, thanks… It was nice of you to talk to me. But I think after all, instead of ANT… I was thinking of using Luhmann’s system theory as an underlying framework— that seems to hold a lot of promise, autopoiesis and all that. Or maybe I will use a bit of both.
P — …
S — Don’t you like Luhmann?
P — I would leave aside all ‘underlying frameworks’, if I were you.
S — But, your sort of ‘science’, it seems to me, means breaking all the rules of social science training.
P — I prefer to break them and follow my actors.

spaces of vernacular creativity

It seems the concept of vernacular creativity has legs that carry it into various disciplinary territories. Interestingly, this Call for Papers for a panel at the American Association of Geographers conference in San Francisco next year uses it in almost exactly the same way as I do.

Every day that passes, there’s more stuff to go in the section of my thesis entitled ‘the idea of vernacular creativity’; from vernacular architecture to domestic craft and DIY to vernacular photographies to vernacular public art (the most symptomatic form of which is the roadside shrine). I have to hurry up and finish. That is, in as much as a scholarly pace ever allows you to ‘hurry up.’ There are no shortcuts – that’s why you get to be called ‘doctor’ at the end of it.

flickr & relational aesthetics

First decent new sentence I’ve added to my PhD draft for a couple of weeks:

Flickr can be viewed as the site of a vernacular ‘relational aesthetics’ (Bourriaud, 2002), where the object of the aesthetic is no longer the image itself, but the ‘modes of social connection’ (McQuire, 2006, pp. 263) that are both made possible by and flow through the image.


Bourriaud, Nicolas. (2002) Relational Aesthetics. English ed. Dijon, Les presses du reel.

McQuire, Scott (2006) ‘Technology.’ Theory, Culture & Society, 23(2-3): 253-263.

fieldwork finished

Tonight I wrapped up my Flickr interviews, which were the last bits of fieldwork for my PhD. I could have kept talking to people forever, because the whole process has been so rich and productive and interesting, and, well, fun, but you have to stop somewhere. I’m going to be saying this many more times in the coming months, but thank you so much to:

Mr. Magoo ICU








I now am officially in thesis hell, to the extent that I have almost completely cleared my schedule between now and December and declined a whole bunch of other projects that I really, really wanted to do, and writing this post feels like a luxuriant waste of time. Let’s call it a birthday present, because I started creativity/machine around about three years ago, while in the very early stages of thinking through ideas for a PhD project on amateur creativity (and procrastinating about finishing my MPhil). Maybe it’s time to start planning a postdoc. (Only joking)