Weird Differences

I’ve found a lot of interesting ideas and wisdom from TED Talks since I finished my PhD. One of the shortest, and most helpful for me, is Derek Sivers‘ talk (embedded below) which starts by comparing the way we might distinguish streets and blocks for finding where we are:

I think it’s a nice reminder that people, by culture or personality, might just see things differently to you.

Your internal might see a different interpretation of your data for example, not because you’re wrong and they’re right, but because they see something you didn’t. Your external might think a different method is more appropriate for your research problem, only because they’ve never used your method. Again, they’re not wrong, they’re probably not weird either – they just see things differently.

Ahead of your viva, consider what you’ve done: where could your work be different? Why is it the way that it is? And if it’s “weird,” why is that valid for what you’ve done during your PhD?

Words & Wonder

About eleven years ago, just after I finished my PhD and started to explore researcher development, I learned of the Sagan Series and the Feynman Series, two science engagement projects by Reid Gower. Through a combination of beautiful images, inspirational music and wonderful words by two great science communicators, these videos hooked into my brain. As I was starting on a path thinking about how to share things with others, this helped me to see that you had to do more than just say the words to communicate.

I saw just how important it is to choose your words carefully. You have to play, practise, listen… Maybe then you can find a way to connect.

Eleven years on, and when autumn arrives I think of these videos. I press play on my playlist and see what they make me think of today. Today they make me think about how one might inject a little wonder into your words. How will you choose your words for the viva? How could you frame your research to make it connect with your examiners and others?

Perhaps, more importantly, how could you describe it for yourself? Not to boast or brag or deceive yourself – how could you make your thesis feel even more wonderful and inspiring than it already has to be? And how might that help you?

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