And what is it you do?

PHD comic strip

Increasingly, I’m finding it difficult to say what it is I do*. Just this weekend I was at a party and watched another human being’s eyes glaze over completely as I attempted to explain my post in the university. Sometimes people ask me what I lecture in and I correct them and explain that I don’t lecture. Maybe I should just say ‘technology’ and be done with it!

Either way it’s probably time to change the subject.

* For the record, I’m Assistive Technology Advisor with a communications and research brief. It’s FAR more fun than that sounds though! (I swear… Hey, come back…)

8 responses to “And what is it you do?

  1. LOL this happens to me ALL the time, so I know how you feel. I have actually had people be so rude that they either just interrupt me mid-sentence and start talking about something completely different, turn and start talking to someone else about something completely different, or just like nod and walk away!! What the heck! And of course all these instances were proceeded by the token eye glazing period, hehehe.
    Couldn’t people just pretend to act interested!? Especially if they are family/friends?
    I do it all the time when listening to people babble about stuff.

    Anyhoo, well I’m glad to hear that your job is fun! Take care!!

  2. Thanks segan123, it’s nice to know that others go through this trauma of boring people with the job description!

    Maybe a good strategy would be to look them straight in the eye and say “I’d love to tell you what I do, but there would be repercussions… I can’t say any more…”?

  3. I’ve pretty much given up on this. The blank stares, or, as segan notes, the obvious disinterest, leave me depressed – especially among family and friends. So, I make things up. This, at least, works on my fiction writing skills.

  4. Hi I know exactly what you are talking about. Even folks who use AT are confused when I tell them I am an AT Consultant but they are booked in my office for an hour and to nullify the blank stare I usually impress them with the technology at my fingertips…Dragon Nat speaking really impresses them!

    They might not full understand it however it is something that they can do to be distracted. Outside on the street when I say my position, I get the responses you noticed so I say I talk to computers all day. That gets a smile and they change the subject lol. Have a great day!

  5. Haha eguinan that may be the best strategy going forward. It’s funny, cuz I actually tried that last night while out with some people who were asking the dreaded question – “SO, what do you do??” and I started by giving them a warning/disclaimer of sorts, kind of like you wrote above. And it seemed to give me a free pass to be a little more vague and brief in answering the big question, so it was refreshing. Try it sometime! And I didn’t lose anyone (I don’t think…but maybe they were just a rare breed of nice, polite people)!

    LOL Ira, I am totally going to start making things up too!! How fun!

  6. Ira, I’d be afraid to make things up too much: I’d start to believe it myself! Watch out segan! 🙂

    Ken: Dragon is always a good one for the ‘wow’ factor. We started to cool it a little in demos and tours of the facilities as students started to get unrealistic expectations and staff began to think that the technology did everything! The number of requests we get from people adamant that there exists Star Trek-like technology that will transcribe what lecturers are saying. “Not yet, I’m afraid…”

  7. regarding transcribing lecturers – I’ve done this with some success. The lecturer trains their voice and wears a wireless mic. You can send it to Dragon on a laptop which projects it on a screen or (in my case) to the personal laptops of deaf students. Problem? Two: One, no punctuation. Two: Doesn’t capture the statements/questions of other students. There is Liberated Learning which uses a ‘turbo’d’ version of IBM ViaVoice that puts in punctuation. It is the ultimate classroom “wow.” But it still doesn’t get other voices.

    Yet, if and spinvox work – and they do, I use them every day, how far can we actually be away from this?

    Anyway, here in the states I can get huge wows simply by demonstrating Click-Speak or WordTalk. Students never see any AT here at all.

    None of this means that people know what I do, of course. And believing my own fiction? Some sort of occupational hazard, indeed.

  8. I had read about Liberated Learning, but that was a few years ago and it all seemed a little cumbersome back then. Things have certainly changed in the interim, with Dragon 9 being quite impressive for instance.

    My colleague in University College Cork is looking into piloting a similar scheme there so we’ll have our eyes peeled.

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