Tag Archives: reflecting on


wondering about age….

week 1 of 2011
from Distrito Federal, Mexico

why do we have the tendency to make age groups?  For example, we study specific age groups,  and  it exists a trend to be with people within certain age range. But does it make sense that always?!

My year started with full power, no time to waste. One reason was that for first time I was able to live intensively with people of different generations simultaneously (from 2.5 years old to 92 years old). It is such a rich experience I haven’t lived earlier.


details in academic writing

Prof. Dr. Thomas Breyer-Mayländer told me once (he was my second supervisor for my masters): the last 5 to 10% of a project can take as much time/effort than the previous 90 to 95%. In each project that I have been involved, since I heard this comment, I remember his wise words. The last fine DETAILS make the difference on a final product, and those are time demanding. Never sub-estimate the last 5-10% of your work with the fine details.

Academic writing is not an exception from the 5-10% rule. Perhaps due to my lack of experience, and therefore of understanding, but the last 5% of my articles have been really time demanding (and a lot of work). I hope to improve with the time, specially because I notice that I can start working with that last 5% in earlier phases of the writing. If I start early then, I hope, the last 5% should be smoother.

Thus, this post is to make explicit what I have learn about making smoother the last 5% on academic writing. Maybe most of the people know about these “tips”, but maybe some others – like me – might benefit to hear these three advices due to lack of experience.

Ah!  if I am loosing any tip and someone with more experience read this post, please do not hesitate to suggest! 🙂 we are always learning.

  • Tip 1: Wherever you will submit your paper, read the style guidelines from the first day you will start writing.

If you read the style guidelines at the beginning of your writing and you start using the style format at the beginning too, then you do not need to do so much FIXING later. Some conferences and journals have inclusive templates with  their styles, use them since day zero.

However, some conferences and journals do not have those templates, but they will offer guidelines or  check lists that explain how your article should look like. Read them, and decide how to apply those guidelines since early phases on your writing.

  • Tip 2:  Reflect upon references and learn to fully use your tool that handles your references.

Once Justus told us, get your Manual of APA. But I did not listen. Oh that was one mistake I did !

Everybody should look the reference writing manual every now and then (ideally to have it), if one wants to be professional in citing.  I refer to APA guidelines, because so far is the type of citing that I had used the most. But in any case, check the citing type for your document as early as possible.

To read the citing manual in combination with your tool for handling your references will save you A LOT of time.

Let me explain, I use Zotero, I am very happy with it, but I need to know which fields I need to fill when uploading my reference. Yes, I know Zotero uploads references automatically, but there are fields which must be filled by hand depending the original source. In earlier times I was not careful enough, then with the author, title, and those stuff was good, I though.

Oh surprise! The citing manual (in this case APA) tells you what info you need for a proper citing, and this info must be in the system. Specially if you are using books from other languages, thesis, translations and different material. Inclusive check the books because to upload the data from amazon is not enough!.  You must know where your book was published (the state, country) not only the editorial.

Remember you are the boss of your tool (in this case Zotero), no the other way around, then check that it works properly for your advantage.

  • Tip 3: Quotes

Please since the first time you type a quote, keep the page number of the quote!!!!!

Zotero supports you on register the page number. I assume other software too. Consequently, you must learn to use your software that handles your references, as most probably, it addresses the most common references’ patters: keep page number, references with and without author, etc, etc….


tips to make smoother your last 5% writing

tips to make smoother your last 5% writing

“it takes what it takes” by Antti

For a lover of games and learning, (aka me), it has been difficult to understand the rules of the game in research: “publish or perish”.  But by reading Thiagarajan and David Lorge Parnas I conclude that I am playing with other rules 😉

My inner voice guided me to pursue this path of research. It is a personal call, I  love what I do. My research topic is my passion, and I am  interested that the outcome of my efforts could support real life besides academia, for example in industry, business, ONG.

Hence, it is taking me TIME to walk my path, because:

It takes TIME to know what am I doing?

It takes TIME to find my literature (in addition, when I arrived to my research group the research on games was nonexistent)

It takes TIME to read and listen a vast amount of books, journals, articles, blogs, individuals, …

It takes TIME to digest all the information

It takes TIME to conceptualize

It takes TIME to implement, test, use…

It takes TIME to find your angels on the way (people who help you to improve)

It takes TIME to understand the context that surround all the points mentioned above

It takes TIME to learn to write

It takes TIME to write

In addition, thinking is complex. THINKING TAKES TIME and EFFORT.

Hence, within my journey, in several moments I was convinced that I am too slow.  Actually, saying slow is the most constructive reaction, because the feeling of impotence is huge. But something crystallized while talking with Antti: I belong to other type of researchers, of those  subscribe to slow-science.

The slow moment is present in other areas of our life as well, for example: slow-food, slow-living.  By the way, one shouldn’t misinterpret the word slow. Antti describes it so well: “it take what it takes”.  That is all, the best example of this concept is a new human life which requires nine months until s/he is born, and several years until s/he is self-sufficient.  “It takes what it takes”.

Articles that support the concepts behind slow-science, which in my humble opinion must be read are: “stop the numbers game” from Parnas, and the blog of Erik Proper. Also, in an indirect way, but good article from game research is “How I designed a game – and discovered the meaning of life” by Thiagarajan. 

Hence I am still in my personal race, and I know I live in this planet and I need to balance its rules. But it makes me feel relief knowing that it is normal, the growth process requires time. Thank you Antti for the chat and references!

it takes what it takes to grow

CC image, source here

life full of contradictions #2 – Nature is smarter than us

I had been writing about my concern on natural disasters (e.g. here and here), specially stressed with earthquakes. My last entry was with Chile, now in early April 2010 a 7.2 earthquake shook Mexicali, Mexico , last week a 6.9 earthquake in Qinghai, China, and last night in Papua New Guinea.

Most of the dead tolls are our own fault. We support the growth of over-populated cities with lack of urbanism research and strategies. In addition we build low quality shelters, and so on.

Apparently most natural disaster are between the tropics.

But on April 14th, north European countries have been affected by the eruption of Eyjafjallajoekull volcano in Iceland. The airspace has been closed in most European airports for the danger that implies to fly through the ashes. The Europe flight grounded creates passengers inconvenience at different levels (I am lucky to do not be in such a situation) and millions of euros lost in direct and indirect industries e.g. carrier of goods, suppliers for airlines.

However and unfortunately all the media I read, except of the article from Alain de Botton, a critical reflection point is missing: nature is making the obvious explicit. We need to slow down our life styles and harmonize with the rest of life forms in the planet.  We should be wise, instead to pretend to be smarter than nature. The price of our stubbornness is rising every day.   Anyway, we keep making history.

What I am proud of is  the positive attitude of most of the travelers.  Social Networks are the best!

Screenshot of #getmehome in Twitter. Great attitude from people!

life full of contradictions #1 – ICT4D

One of the reasons why this research group called my attention was: they are doing research in what we call developing countries. For those who knows me, it is not a surprised that I was attracted with this idea.

However as I discover more about ICT4D, I realize I am not from the same philosophy.

This is COMPLETE contradictory, I know. Specially because I want to help and actually I am contributing at some level with ICT4D. But I am interesting in the personal growth of any individual.

On Friday  I was briefly in one talk regarding ICT4D. I wonder if anyone on that room read Carlos Fuentes. In one of his books, el espejo enterrado (in english: the buried mirror), Fuentes manage a very special concept: when two cultures meet each other. The encounter of cultures imply the discovering of each other  step by step. Two different worlds are discovering each other, this has sever implications at different levels. I know this type of reflection is not only his,  there are different writers making explicit the reflections of different meanings and interpretations.

In the 30 minutes I was in that room on Friday,  my heart got sad. I just heard how the experts were concern on changing the  “ignorance” of the countries they are working with. Of course that ignorance is in reference to our perspective. As we assume several of their problems and behaviors  must change. In those 30 minutes, I did NOT hear what do we discover in the host cultures that can make us work together. I did NOT hear how the locals define their own problems.  I did NOT hear a we (foreign and locals) at any moment. Much less I hear what the foreign has learned or admired from the “host”  culture.

If I have a guest in my  house and tells me how to furnish it, clean it and even live in it.  I wont get happy and I doubt I will get open to those wise suggestions. Less if I haven’t even ask for those suggestions myself.

I accept I am a western. This is a fact, for “n” reasons, starting from the perspective I born in a BIG metropolis of the western hemisphere. But that does not give me any rights to say that my way of living is the correct one.

I had been a missionary for several years. I had lived in communities that from our “western” eyes are not developed. Where there is literally nothing. I had seen people die, and I had seen people sleeping on the street trying to get warm next to an animal.  No shelter, no food, nothing. However, those communities and those individuals are richer in other aspects than us. What makes us think or believe we are superior?  The money, yeap sure! With all the ongoing natural disasters, we will see how much the money can help us.We are just loosing the point of living.

I wish to  hear one day, from  any leader, how one draws the line between what is your desire of your own growth, my desire for my own growth, and our common growth.  Wondering, when we will work together?

The “solution” we are approaching as “development”, in my humble opinion and in most of the cases, is not taking us anywhere. Because since the first encounter the respect is not existent, we do not consider ourselves equals. That problem is in both ends of the conversation the westerns and the no-westerns. When we accept that both parties are as important as oneself, then perhaps growth will start to flourish.

I admit there are very valuable people in the world of ICT4D. I respect them. It exists good will, and all the good stuff we can think of. But sadly from my eyes we are missing the point and  following some type of  e-colonialism pattern.

To the time!. Maybe I am mistaken, maybe we will change the approach….in anycase,right now I must finalize  my thesis.

Recommended book to read!