Thursday, February 8, 2007

iPod? No Thanks, I'm Trying to Quit

got headphones?

After my previous post, I donned my recording studio styled headphones to crank through some rock assisted image analysis. I paused to consider the role of earphones in scientific labs. I wear earphones in the lab on three occasions: (1) image analysis, (2) to listen to the Pitt Panthers or (3) to signal to other people that I am not to be bothered. I plug in to my desktop compy, though. I haven't quite mastered the MP3/podcast thing yet. (Maybe I don't want to???)

My lab is an iPod lab. All of my grad student colleagues have one, and many listen while they work. I wonder if they have sinister motives (see #3 above). My deal is that if I am doing anything that involves words or numbers, I cannot listen to music. Senor brain just doesn't work that way. So that rules out tunes while I follow protocols, have conversations or write. It's inappropriate to transfer my own learning style on others, but I can't help but recall the good points about lab culture from a critique of lab life in the iPod era.

It's kind of funny that I am writing this, since my grad student pals will probably read it at some time... I just wonder if my tendency to work ideas over in conversation with someone else might benefit from a culture less connected to media and more connected to other people.


UPDATE: A fellow blogger made a nearly simultaneous entry on the effect ipods in society, but in a different context. Go figure that some state legislator wants to limit use of iPods by pedestrians in New York City.


BuddhistValkyrie said...

Hah! I like the LabLit piece - it's really evocative of some sort of gleaming white futuristic laboratory, with glassy-eyed automatons robotically doing their tasks mechanically.

I do wonder what Latour would think about this... why don't you write him and ask? ;) I suspect he might worry that the oral tradition and social constructs of the lab will be lost, and science will sort of devolve a bit.

Of course, I'd argue that our strong reliance these days on anecdotal case study instead of clinical trials is doing the same sort of damage - at least to the scientific process and spread of knowledge. ;)

golob said...

Our lab would never EVER tolerate the sort of stereo-blazin' talkative model promoted in the lablit link.

How many dirty looks do I get when I even talk about science? I view my iPod use the equivalent of a cloth on top of an annoying parakeet cage. ;p

thomas said...

I'll give you that our lab would NOT work with a stereo going in the main lab. To give LabLit author Jen Rohn credit, she pointed out that the world of desks and lab benches in the same room makes that difficult. The TC (tissue culture) room often has a radio on, though!

What I would like is more people talking about the outcomes of experiments and problems they are having and possible alternate hypotheses for my results. You have to admit, Jonathan that the glaze-inducing talk about science you have experienced is much more hypothetical than tied to the trenches...