onsdag 6 november 2013

UC Irvine next!

In previous blog posts I've none-to-subtly hinted that this autumn has been very busy, with me teaching two different courses as well as myself attending a course in research supervision. Another reason this has been a busy autumn is due to the fact that me and my wife will go on a sabbatical and live in the US during the spring. We will more specifically live in Irvine, California - an hour's drive south of Los Angeles and an hour's drive north of San Diego (and the Mexican border)

So, what's in Irvine? Well, the University of California at Irvine (UCI) is there and we will be affiliated with the Department of Informatics at the School of Information & Computer Sciences (ICS). What especially draws me to UCI is the fact that Bill Tomlinson and Donald Patterson, who have done work on "collapse informatics", are there (c.f. "Collapse informatics: Augmenting the Sustainability and ICT4D discourse in HCI" - presented at the CHI 2012 conference (pdf here)). Bonnie Nardi is also there and have been known to work will Bill and Don on these issues. I have an invitation from Bill and Don and Tessy has an invitation from Bonnie. I reached out to Bill and Don during the spring, and received a formal invitation to visit them and their respective research groups. "Their groups" are Bill's Social Code Group (SCG) and Don's Laboratory for Ubiquitous Computing and Interaction (LUCI) at ICS.

Bill, Don and Bonnie (together with Debra Richardson) have all been involved in the creation of the just-approved RiSCIT center at UCI, "The Center for Research in Sustainability, Collapse-preparedness and IT" and I will most probably also be affiliated with that center in some way. One of the goals of RiSCIT is to "Provide a central focus for research on the role of informatics and computing in supporting the transition to sustainability and addressing the potential to prepare for civilization-scale collapse". Other goals of the center is to attract funding for research projects and to maintain and increase national and international visibility and "differentiate our research group from others conducting research on sustainability and computing".

Me and Tessy have worked hard since the summer to overcome a large number of practical issues that are associated with an extended stay abroad such as getting visas, getting health insurance for us and our children, renting out our apartment, finding somewhere to live in Irvine and finding a local school for our children (very complicated). I think that almost all of the big things are fixed now and it's really hard to see any possible show-stoppers ahead of us - I can only see practical problems at this point in time. We just ordered the airline tickets and are negotiating the very last details in the contract for the house we will rent in Irvine (the owners are academics and will be on a sabbatical of their own). We will live right next to the university campus and less than a 10 minute walk from the School of Information & Computer Science.

The whole point of going on a sabbatical is to create the conditions and to free up the time to meet new people, to get new impressions and for doing things that you usually don't (have time to) do at home. I've been thinking some about how I will use my time in the US. I will not work full time, but here is my current work-related "wish list" of things I would like to have done when I come home to Sweden next summer:

- Write academic papers (I hava a number of them in the pipe).
- Spend quality time reading books and articles.
- Work with two sets of data (interviews) that I haven't had time to transcribe and analyze yet.
- Work in a research project I'm involved in (at a distance).
- Hopefully work on another research project (if the application is granted) or on some other, smaller research project(s) (if we get the money).
- At the end of the spring term I will need to spend some time preparing for my autumn 2014 courses.
- Last but not least I will of course also participate in UCI academic life and interact (especially) with RiSCIT and with Bill and Don's research groups.

The list list above summarizes work-related things/tasks that I would like to have done when I return to Sweden next summer. What actually gets done is an open question. It's hard to gauge how much time I will spend working and how efficient and goal-oriented I will be when I work, but you will of course be able to read all about it here on the blog. No matter if I'm here or there, my ambition with this blog will be the same as ever and I expect to continue to post a minimum of one and a maximum of two blog posts per week also during the spring.

Any questions or comments? Please pose them below!

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