weeknote 17

It’s hard to top a week like the one I described in weeknote 16. The last week was about starting the school year at Art Center, on one hand, and tying up loose ends in LA to start the school year in Princeton. The highlight of the week: hearing Tom McCarthy read from his novel C, then having brunch with him and a few friends the next day. READ. C. It’s stellar.

At Art Center, there’s a great crew of thesis students in the graduate Media Design Program. I heard the first of what they’re working on. My very favorite part of being a professor at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea was being a thesis advisor: nothing like watching someone’s own project grow and develop and being there as a guide. I’m also really enjoying being a part of so multifaceted a faculty. It feels familiar and new at the same time. Funny (in a very nice way) to see themes repeating in my work and in theirs as they explore their thesis directions — it’s a great place to be.

So then, I packed up a couple boxes of books (they made it, though the box is torn), went to yoga and to my writers co-op, then flew back to Princeton last Thursday. I discovered I’d done a thorough job of setting things up for my return. Can’t say I’ve ever been all that neat a person but everything was tidy in the student apartment I’d moved into in June. When you split time in two places, finding things again is the best you can hope for, but things felt smooth and familiar. I reconnected friends from school, several of whom I’ve studied with for five years, caught up about our summer research and discussed the bigger questions of what comes next — we’re in year four or five of our PhDs, we’ve known each other since our master’s program — what’s the next step? Two friends will enter the academic job market. I’m trying to determine which way I’ll go. Writing the dissertation means that there’s an end in sight, unlike the interminable coursework I did (two years of a master’s, two years of a PhD: nearly 20 courses in four years).

My research on Cedric Price and Nicholas Negroponte this summer is going to help to boil down the dissertation. I’m surprised that I’ll be dealing in some way with Richard Saul Wurman and information architecture, as he defined it in 1976 (it never was my intention). Today, I met with Christine and Ed (advisor & 1st reader) and they’re excited about the direction I’m going to take it. Now to theorize information and architecture. Re-reading this week: Geof Bowker and Michel Foucault.

All of this in preparation for an unhinged October. October is going to be crazy. I’m flying at least 25,000 miles: Princeton, LA, Boston (IBM Research), New Haven, LA, Shanghai (Princeton Center for Architecture, Urbanism & Infrastructure), LA. I’ll probably be in San Francisco in there, too for Institute for the Future. I’m working on being as grounded as I can.