I teach Digital Marketing and am acutely aware that my own web presence has suffered in the last two years but here's why:
The long and short of it is that this blog used to be a place where I would discuss my research, it acted as a place where I could rehearse arguments and points of view. As those who have read this blog previously will realise I've been undertaking a PhD. In the last two years that has dominated my time. Well my time when I've not been teaching. Six weeks ago today I submitted my PhD and at some point in the coming months I will have my viva.
While one might assume that completing (or as best possible until it is examined) would overwhelm one with relief and joy, this is not quite how it is or was. Over the final months of bringing it together I was very disciplined (for me): little to no social life, a lot of gym visits, early nights and long-ish days (I am a parent so the working day is naturally curtailed when parenting starts) writing/proofing/checking. I was in an odd state: focused, anxious and adrenalin (and caffeine) fuelled and all the time trying hard not to get ill. As it happens within half an hour of submitting I had a sore throat, followed by a week-long, heavy cold and recurring shoulder/neck problem back with a vengeance, leading to a month of sleepless nights and physio bills, in retrospect it took its toll. I will write a more in-depth post about how the PhD process was for me at some point soon, I am still a little nervous to talk publicly about it until I've got through the examination process.
I am now left looking at what next? I have a lot of ideas and things I want to do in terms of research, although I will miss my PhD (there I've said it!) or maybe I will miss the people who became the focus of the research, their stories and struggle. This is another posting for the future. I'll also give a synopsis of my thesis at some point too. I have written or attempted to write three papers in the last 6 weeks too. This was over ambitious and as they are derived from the PhD I've had to be careful to not plagiarise myself (much harder than you would imagine). Two of these papers are intended for this year's ISBE conference. I've attended ISBE every year since 2004 (a year after my academic career began) but last year, other than giving a keynote presentation at the Cultural Entrepreneurship conference in Pori, Finland, I was on a self-imposed conference moratorium. So I am really looking forward to ISBE and reconnecting with the research community. This year it will be in Cardiff.
So my next steps, other than get through the viva (everything crossed): to re-engage with the research community, develop my research ideas and seek collaborators to help make them happen, continue writing about and disseminating my recent research and reconsider and develop my online presence. This is where this posting started. Those who know me know I have a pretty lengthy history working within online/digital/Internet environment, as if to haunt me some old photos recently emerged, which I might share including press cuttings from the 90s....'Women take on Cyberspace' (Birmingham Post, April 1997) *cringe*.... but my focus on my recent research focus has meant I have dropped the proverbial online presence ball. This timeout has also offered me an opportunity to reflect. To value my privacy. To consider how much I want to share and why? I have become a 'lurker', an observer, utterly bemused, sometimes amused and delighted by the banality of what people choose to share (incidentally I would suggest this is a useful exercise for anyone working in this field: to take yourself out and observe others for a bit). But I feel it is time to test the water again. So my next steps also include attempting to re-build my online presence, tidy-up and revive this blog and practise a little more of what I preach in my Digital Comms and Digital Marketing modules....