All Human Life is There (Happy 1st Birthday OccamT)

The first part of this statement was once the proud motto of the now deceased and unlamented News of the World. In a friendlier vein, compared with many of the ignorant witch hunts they pursued and the dirt they used to dish, I would like to think Occam’s Typewriter – and my own personal microcosm within it – similarly covers much of the Life Scientific (as Jim Al Khalili would describe it). We happy band of bloggers cover everything from the unidentifiable object/stain malingering at the bottom of the lab freezer to the aspirations of postdocs; from animals and birds living in our back yards to the creatures that populate high level committees and departments; from the joys of working in interdisciplinary science to the shortage of women in all our fields. Happy birthday OccamT, it has been a fun year!

For myself I have learnt a lot about the readership as well as my fellow bloggers. I have learnt the most read posts are often those which provoke fewest comments; that the ones dashed off in a mild alcoholic haze have (so far, on the statistically meaningless count of one) been rather more successful than ones which I have laboured long and hard over; these latter don’t necessarily generate much interest.  It is clear that if I raise issues around gender, or personal experiences in which gender has played a part, there is much more likelihood of getting my posts retweeted than if I stay with a purely professional bent. And the couple of times my argument has been sloppily presented I have been hammered in the comments for apparently implying things that were far from my intent.

So, as I enter into OccamT’s 2nd year with my fellow bloggers, I can perhaps pause to think if I want to change my style, my persona or the content. I could choose to use more photos if I were more adept with either camera or software, but as I’m not I think that one is out. I could devote myself entirely to gender issues, but then that would be very narrow and negate a lot of my other experiences. Furthermore, I’ve never considered myself a feminist in the way I was reared to understand the meaning of the word which – to one of my generation – smacks too strongly of bra-burning, even if it generally conveys something rather different now, so I doubt I’ll do that either. As I get sucked up into the maw that is the REF I could write exclusively about impact, but in that case I suspect my readership would dwindle to single figures and I’ll be thinking enough about that during the working day to warrant clearing my brain when ‘off duty’ as it were, so that too I’ll give a miss. In fact, I suspect my blog will continue to be the same sort of random pot pourri stimulated by whatever I’ve read, participated in or been vexed by recently.  As a compliment from a reader, I rather liked the tweet I received recently, which stated one of my posts had ‘provoked thinking+giggles as ever.’ If  I’m managing that, I think I’ve probably achieved as much, no actually a great deal more, than I ever anticipated when I set out in this good company last December (strictly speaking I joined a day or two after OccamT’s birth, but I’m not going to split hairs).

So, here’s to our 2nd year. I raise a metaphorical glass to all of us and am delighted to find myself in such convivial company.

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8 Responses to All Human Life is There (Happy 1st Birthday OccamT)

  1. As I’ve just tweeted: Stay with the ‘random pot pourri’ – stimulating, interesting & always a good read!

    And Happy Birthday to Occam’s Typewriter – a regular stop of mine (just about to go and check out the other ‘birthday’ posts), and hard to believe it’s only been around a year.

  2. Heather says:

    Happy blogging birthday here, indeed!

    The lessons you learned – yes. The blog is a good, thoughtful read, and you’ve plenty of lurker fans, too.

  3. ricardipus says:


    What Heather said.

    And it’s interesting that the most-read posts often have the fewest comments – counter-intuitive, that, and a good argument for keeping an eye on the page view statistic (or whatever it’s called).


  4. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    I’ve completely given up trying to predict which posts will get the most comments – it seems almost random!

    I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you through your blog this year Athene, and I hope its random pot pourri nature continues, even as it evolves organically as blogs tend to do!

  5. I’ve always liked your variety!

    • Julie says:

      When I was a PhD student, nerlay 40 years ago, I was on a Science Research Council CAPS (Co-operative Awards in Pure Science) studentship, where I had to work in the co-operating company for three months during my three-year term. My research was measuring the polarization of astonomical objects in the near and mid-infrared and the co-operating company made infrared polarizers as well as carrying out contract research for other companies.Later on, I remember the scheme being expanded to include government research establishements and renamed CASE.I thought at the time that I particularly benefitted from exposure to an commercial research environment during my PhD. Are any programmes like this still funded by the research councils?

  6. Thanks everyone, lurkers and regular commenters! I expect the randomness of posts will continue….

    • Ricardo says:

      Nice post.It always anyons me when people talk about PhD graduates who don’t end up in full time academic posts as a waste’. PhD-trained people make an enormous contribution in their careers outside of research and academia, even if they end up in roles that don’t specifically require a PhD. It is inevitable that only a small proportion of PhD student will end up in academic posts, so part of this is about managing expectations as well as being (rightly) positive about the alternatives.On a personal level, I can also recall being told I was wasting’ my career by leaving an academic post to work in policy. I think there is a tendency among some in academia to view their career choice as especially valuable and superior to other options.

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