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Episode Info: Alex Taylor is a sociologist and a Reader in the Centre for Human Computer Interaction Design at City, University of London. Alex moved into academia in Sept 2017, having worked at Microsoft Research Cambridge prior to this for over a decade and as a post doc researcher at Surrey University before this. Alex talks about his work at the boundaries of disciplines where he doesn’t feel like he has a clear disciplinary home, and about his experiences working at Microsoft. He explains his very conscious decision to then move into an academic position. The trigger for this conversation was a twitter post where he commented on the many different skills that he had to draw on as an academic. He reflects on the labours of academia, and the need to prioritise and make choices. He also talks about generative resistance in the face of the demands of the academy, taking principled stands, saying no and offering alternatives. And he talks about doing this as a collective endeavour and the power of small everyday actions. In all he does Alex is deeply reflective and values-driven and asks How do we create the opportunities and the spaces to do the academy differently? He shows many of the practical ways we can all be part of this.“I never felt I had a [disciplinary] home and that took a while to come to terms with. … maybe that’s just the kind of person I am, the work I thrive in.”“We all have to make choices within our lives about what we prioritise. And I realised for me being a parent and partner were very important.”“[Recognising] the sheer number of skills that were required of me in one day. … It’s a very clear indication of the labours involved in being an academic. And the recognition that you can’t be good at them all.““How do we create the opportunities and the spaces to do the academy differently?”“Important for me in the Centre is how do collectively say no to that? … It’s not just about saying no, what other things might we offer up as a solution?”Overview (times approximate): 02:07 Research background and dealing with the press/impact13:49 How he decided to work at Microsoft & sticking to his guns34:24 Consciously deciding to move from MSR to university43:40 The labours involved in being an academic57:42 Collective generative resistance In more detail, he talks about…Research background and dealing with the press/impact02:07 Alex talks about working at University of Surrey and Xerox Europarc and then going to Microsoft Research. A sociologist with an interest in the sociology of technology and he did his PhD on teenagers and mobile phones, a long time ago when it was still a surprise to the industry because SMS was originally something to be used a back channel for engineers. Fortuitous in a way that he realized young people might be the thing to look at. 07:55 Alex reflecting on his use of words like fortuitous and luck. “It was just about meeting the right people at the right time. I fully recognize I...
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