Monday, September 26, 2005

Dr. Know(-it-all).

I've been thinking lately about what counts as intellectual property, and who owns the stuff I think. What I can post on a public blog is limited by NDAs, corporate ownership and patents, all things proprietary. At least when it comes to most of the things I spend my day thinking about these days: machine translation, language policy, linguistic APIs, other aspects of internationalization and software design. I spend much of my time engaged in conversations about these things with smart people from a variety of backgrounds, but I can't post my most fundamental thoughts here or share them with people who haven't signed an NDA. This blog is linked from the Language Log, but only one in very many posts concerns linguistics as such, even though a lot of what I'll be doing this year is as or more interesting linguistically than what I did through much of graduate school.

What was it like in academia? I could post or talk about anything I wanted, at any time. Quite enviable, in some ways. Apparent total openness of expression. On the other hand, I spent most of my time talking to people who shared my viewpoint. If not in specific instances, then at least in terms of the framework for discussion. I talked to people in my department, at my university. Maybe sometimes to people in other departments at other universities. And you know, expression was rarely truly open. The rules were just less formalized.

Some of my job now involves collaborating with people in academia, and I've been considering the different communication styles used in the two arenas where I have spent time professionally. I recently found a document that I wrote shortly after starting work at Microsoft, a little over a year ago. I look at it now and see that it's hopelessly academic. A year ago I couldn't have told you what it meant to be hopelessly academic. Now I can, and it means real things in terms of discourse analysis. I could probably write an academic paper about it.

On the other hand, now I talk about "different communication styles" and having "spent time professionally." Which marks me in a whole different way.


Post a Comment

<< Home