The Thing about Academia

I flirted with the notion for a long time. I really did. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be an academic right? You make up your own schedule, you travel a lot and perhaps most importantly, your job is just thinking of stuff. Well that, no pun intended, is the theory at any rate.

What actually happens is a whole lot of paper work and a whole lot of name dropping in the form of producing white papers and the like. In fact, this is the name of the game to be sure. While justifying not only your existence, but your very ideas by relating, often tenuously to someone else’s ideas might sound like a good use of time to some, I soon realised, it wasn’t for me.

For about six or so years I was fully into the idea of doing a PhD. I think this was mainly because I wished that my job could be about ideas. My ideas to be exact. I soon realised while working on the peripheries of academia that your work isn’t about your ideas, it’s about someone else’s, and that someone else invariably is above you.

There’s also that whole bit about spending most of your time reading a bunch of shit you don’t really want to. You get given a list of things to read which you probably don’t really care about and then you have to spend a large amount of time writing about it. It’s seems to me like an overblown book report. Overblown by about 79,500 words and about 5 years.

The problem though I think is the design worlds obsession with not just wanting to be academics, but pretending they are. While it’s fine to pontificate and theorise and hypothesise about things and how they should or shouldn’t work, look or act, it’s another to actually do something about it. This is what I thought designers were supposed to do. Do something. Not write about doing something.