Rough Theory

Theory In The Rough

Monthly Archives: July 2006

So can I get an extension…

If this happens to my Dell laptop?

Exploded Dell laptop

Image @2006 The Age, URL:,0.jpg

Haiku procrastination

Using Photographic Material in Research

Sometimes it really is a depopulated landscape.One of the bits of feedback I’ve received from my presentation to the HDR Conference a few weeks ago, was that the photographs I used “gave the impression of a depopulated landscape”, and that I should include more photos with people in them.

When you photograph new developments, of course, you often simply are photographing depopulated landscapes: some photos are designed specifically to demonstrate this strange period of well-laid-out infrastructure and landscaping, in preparation for people who haven’t yet moved in.

Are photographers locked out of the academic research process?

Or the destructive process that precedes new developments:

Some of my photographs, however, are of lived-in areas, and could almost certainly communicate their messages better if they included people using the environments being photographed. I have, however, been artifically contriving the shots to make sure that no people are in them, because of an awkward intersection between my need to include visual material to demonstrate some points in my research, and the assumptions of the formal ethics clearance process about consent requirements. Read more of this post

Fieldwork Lesson of the Night

When parking in a paddock for a meeting that won’t conclude until 11 p.m., carry your flashlight *into* the meeting with you, as flashlights won’t magically illuminate your path to the car when you leave them in the boot…

Look! Up in the Sky!

A Whittlesea traffic engineer accidentally captures an unidentified flying object during a routine photoshoot.

I stumbled across this photo while looking for traffic information on the Whittlesea City Council website. A traffic engineer was evidently startled to discover what he had inadvertantly captured on his digital camera during a routine visit to a local level crossing. The Council website explains:

Council refers photograph to government agencies

An employee of this major municipality during his routine work as a traffic engineer took a photograph of a level railway crossing at Beveridge north of Melbourne using a digital camera.

When it was downloaded from the camera on to a computer an object appeared in the sky on photograph.

This Council has no opinion about the object.

We just do not know what the object could be and would welcome any explanation.

This Council believes it has an obligation to pass the image on to the relevant authorities for their consideration and investigation.

The image has been referred by Council to the Chief Defence Scientist, Defence Science & Technology Organisation, and the Civil Aviation Authority.

Council is considering referring it to NASA and other authorities.

Reading between the lines, it sounds to me as though, while Council may have “no opinion about the object”, it seems to harbour some uneasy suspicions…

Anyone else want to hazard a guess? Or suggest a caption for the image?

Fieldwork Lesson of the Day

Even if the best panoramic photos can be taken from the Hilltop Park, remain aware that parents may react badly to a stranger wandering around the local park with a telephoto lens.

On (Not) Saying No

I have to apologise for neglecting the blog a bit the past couple of weeks: I’ve somehow found myself in the position of assisting with a grant application, writing a conference paper, preparing to teach three courses – and, oh yes, there’s still that pesky matter of field research… We won’t mention small things like deciding that I really needed to put together a reading group on analytic and continental philosophy, or assisting with the recruitment of another PhD student for our project (know any good transport planners anyone)…

Things will calm down slightly in early August, when at least the grant application and the conference paper will be off my plate, and my very small part in the PhD recruitment process will have concluded. My field research will continue to be quite intense for the next several months, and the teaching load is quite heavy this term – although I will only be teaching into, rather than coordinating or designing, these courses, so in that respect the demands will be lower than normal.

My courses for the coming term are: an undergraduate “common course architecture” course called “Economics for the Social Sciences”, which is designed to introduce first-year undergraduates to basic economic concepts, as well as provide a general socialisation to academic work; the Research Strategies course that I also covered last term; and a postgraduate edition of the History and Theory of planning course that I taught to fourth-year undergraduates last term – although, this time around, I’ll be teaching someone else’s version of the course, rather than the version I designed. Read more of this post