My Academic Diary: Mark Carrigan

Image: Cliff Johnson

Wednesday 24th August, 2016

Mark Carrigan
Digital Fellow
The Sociological Review

7:00am I drag myself out of bed, quietly bemoaning the fact that my holiday is over. I remind myself of my upcoming deadlines. They’re entirely manageable but there is a big pile of books I need to read by mid-September if I’m going to make good on my commitments to co-authors. Given there are so many other things I do in a given week, things that I’m actually paid for and that are recognised as part of my job(s), it’s necessary for me to be strict with myself to keep researching and writing in my own time.

8:30am Having spent the last hour and a half reading a poor journalistic book about inequality in contemporary London, wondering if this is really something I should be reading given there’s far more I want to read than time available to me, I switch over to a well received book on neoliberalism. I archive a couple of short passages on my blog, immediately switching over to Twitter to add another comment. Before I know it, the thread of my reading has gone and I’m immersed in social media. Therefore I decide that it’s time to start my working day properly and sit down to schedule a couple of articles for The Sociological Review website.

9:15am Looking through the backlog of articles we have ready to be posted suddenly reminds me that I’d intended to write my own entry for our academic diary feature. I quickly reconstruct my morning before going back to scheduling, eager to avoid the content management system having timed out while I’m half way through editing an article I haven’t saved.

10:08am Suddenly I realise that I need to prepare for a Skype meeting at 10:30. I hadn’t forgotten that the meeting was happening but I’d let the projects we’re discussing slip from my mind: a special issue of Discover Society and a connected research project on digital methodologies. Compartmentalising like this is something that’s always come naturally to me but it can occasionally be counter-productive when I realise that I haven’t thought properly about something for months and need to refamiliarise myself in a rush.

10:15am I wish I could spend the day reading.

11:58am After a quick trip to the supermarket to get lunch, I’m sitting down to spend the next few hours reading a book someone’s sent me to endorse. It’s only the third time someone’s asked me to do this and I quite like the idea that it might become more frequent. Particularly when my fellowship at Warwick ends in December and my disposable income drops precipitously, people sending me free copies of what are otherwise expensive books is very welcome, to put it mildly.

14:40pm Reading eventually gave way to playing around with a new graphic design app, Canva, recommended to me by someone on Twitter. We’ve been running an Instagram account for The Sociological Review for a few months now and have been experimenting with different ways of distilling sociological ideas into a format that works on these intensely visual social media platforms. We’re still getting there but I’m starting to understand how the platform works in a way I didn’t previously. Next challenge: Snapchat!

14:48pm My return to ‘real’ work has been delayed by the sudden discovery that there are at least 10 different iOS apps designed for creating memes.

15:19pm A little admin, catching up on invoices and editing. Only a little though because the sun is calling to me. I’m very aware that tomorrow I’ll be out from 7am to midnight, making one of what have become slightly infrequent trips to the Warwick campus since I left Coventry, then Friday morning will be taken up with more Skype meetings and planning. The freedom of portfolio working is great, as I’m only rarely required to be in a particular place at a particular time for my work. But I realise I sometimes expand a surprisingly large amount of energy trying to structure my time and avoid the temptation to put off those tasks I find less interesting, particularly when it’s sunny outside. 

15:56pm I got much more done in the last hour than I expected to! The incentivising power of the prospect of being about to leave the house. 

16:04pm Putting the finishing touches to this diary entry before it goes up on the site. I'm seeing a film about the lived experience of climate change in a couple of hours, which in my present mood feels a little bit closer to my work than I'd prefer, with some nice food before and pub after. My concession to effectively finishing work at 4pm is to load stuff on my iPad for the hour I'll spend on the tram this evening, work which I can finish on the train to Coventry tomorrow if needed. 

16:07pm I suddenly realise that if I don't think through the action points from my Skype meeting earlier, the details will be horribly vague by the time I come back to it on Friday. I've now somehow contrived to be in a rush, despite having a really productive day, albeit finishing earlier than usual. 

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