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Biographies in (non-academic) Science

Participants: Leo (remote), Berna, Pedro, Richard, Markus, Florian

Leo could not attend the meeting in person because of an illness, but he agreed to still present his inspirational talk about vagabond science and historical examples of scientist who did not fit in the standard frame.

Slides can be found here slideswithoutuncover.pdf

In his project “Vienna Sock Exchange” after asking for support from established art institutions in order to put it up but that turned him down he resorted to guerilla techniques. He gives a list of possible funding sources: state/social, start-up money, private tuition/teaching, seasonal work, possible math-consulting (

Leo prepared also some questions that he asked into the round. We started discussing:

“How would you do science if you could freely chose (no monetary constraints etc)?”

“How did your collaborations start?”

These questions gets more important when one leaves traditional academia and faces a question of legitimation. Leo tells about his experience just contacting people and asking for possible collaborations, but several times this turned towards a negotiation about grant proposals very early. He also tells about his experience in Ukraine where the style was like “discussion until the problem is solved”. Important is a symmetric position: you do not arrive asking for funding but instead offer a collaboration.

“How do you find research questions?”

Markus notes that all his research projects were problems of other people (friends!) of him. Also Leo argues (also example Erdös) that it might be advantageous to discuss with as diverse people as possible to get maximally diverse ideas and approaches, which he regards as very fruitful.

“Vagabond Science”

Fundamental problem is always the “work - research” ( *smile* ) balance. Berna mentions that having many interests is very helpful for that, not only for the personal equilibrium, but also because they can lead to (paid) activities. Work is much less draining if you like what you do.

Topic of extraordinary (maybe not traditionally research) topics. Berna thinks that one can do more or less everything but the communication is very important: Things have to be put in the right context. Florian argues that the problem is exactly that you need to know or understand the context (e.g. the right language if you want to apply for funding from an art institution and funding from a science institution is very different!), which is never easy. Markus: “When we do something new, we can work with that and maybe create a new context also! Vagabond science would have exactly this task.”

Pedro says it is tough to get interesting jobs vs. easy money, he envisions a collaborative group outside or half-inside academia.

Berna says one should put ideas into a larger context to achieve understanding and give it meaning or show their randomness on the other side. Do not be too compulsive with science, one can learn things everywhere, also and especially outside of science.

Leo gives example of programming technique “pair-programming”, can be used for science? Markus shares a few experiences with that.

potsdam2019/session_2_-_biographies_in_science.txt · Last modified: 2019/12/10 22:11 by marlo

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