I read things like this report on SciFoo and think, gawd! I'd have had a great time! I should try to beg/bully/buy/brown-nose my way into the next SciFoo so I can talk about Science 2.0 etc.!
And then I think back to the heady days of ALife when all that stuff was pretty new, and wacky ideas were being proposed, and the conferences gatherings were crazy interesting and fun, and realize that -- apart from a lot of great connections, a few publications, and a wife -- I didn't get much of lasting import from that whole ALife thing. What really added to my life, long-term, from that period was execution ability. I wrote some code, did some research, and ran conferences; those have all stuck with me. The people-talking and socializing didn't stick except in so far as it led to interesting research (well, and a wife, but I'm not looking for another one of those).
My assessment is that I really just need to buckle down and produce over the next few years. This Science 2.0 stuff will come and go, and I'll adjust as I need to; but since it's unlikely to offer me a revolutionary way of doing science, I'm better off doing good science first and only then worrying about socializing. (YMMV, esp if you're Mike Eisen. :)
Also, looking at my work schedule for the last few weeks (talking with students about their projects; ordering stuff for my lab; discussing research with my postdoc; and generally getting shit together) it's hard to argue that there are more important things for me to be doing than that, at least in the academic sphere.
To put things another way: talk is cheap. Action speaks louder than words. Ideas multiply execution.
Or perhaps I'm just bitter that I didn't get invited. It sounds like fun!
Posted by Ian Bicking on 2008-08-12 at 12:00.
I dunno... while without execution an idea is pretty worthless, I think the feedback cycle between ideas and enthusiasm is equally important. That is, it's hard to execute really well simply because of discipline. At least for many people, myself included. Some excitement helps a lot, and ideas and the exchange of ideas build excitement.
Posted by Titus Brown on 2008-08-13 at 11:18.
Ian, I take your meaning, but: scientific work - even computational science -- is very different from programming, because of the long "grind" periods where you produce and analyze data. People who need regular excitement in order to execute shouldn't get into research, IMO, because of that. OTOH the positive side (the feeling you get when you see or understand something that no one else has ever seen before) is unbeatable. --titus
Posted by Chris Lasher on 2008-08-13 at 13:52.
Well said, Titus. Great ideas don't improve the world without execution. On the other hand, execution without great ideas can be a fool's pursuit. I strive to find the balance between Greg Wilson's advice, "One week of hard work can save you an hour of thinking," and General Patton's advice, "A good plan today is better than the perfect plan tomorrow." (Or some unattributable variation thereof.)