Interview on Unconventional Jobs

May 21st, 2010 | Category: Marginalia

After my guest lecture at The University of Illinos at Chicago in Mike Schandorf’s “Writing for New Media” class, recent UIC graduate Jenna Reisch interviewed me for their Unconventional Jobs blog. Here’s an excerpt:

How did you get started in academic writing and what interested you the most? Is research a large part of this career?

RC: Well, academic writing, strictly speaking, is done for academic journals and is mostly written by scholars for other scholars. What I do and want to do is either called “para-academic” writing or “public intellectualism.” I’m not really interested in writing strictly for an academic audience. I want to write about smart stuff, but to write about it for everyone.

How I got into this is probably a longer story than we have room for, but I’ll try to make it brief. After several years of doing music journalism, writing for magazines about bands and records, I read a book by James Gleick called Chaos. It blew my head wide open. I suddenly realized I wanted to do so much more. From there I read tons of “sciencey” books until I zeroed in on what interested me most (which turns out to be human communication and technology), and I went back to school to study it, which is where I still am.

Research is a huge part of this. As I mentioned above, following my interests turns almost everything I do into research, but good, old-fashioned reading and note-taking are also a big part of it. Fortunately, I love that stuff!

The full interview is here.

Many thanks to Jenna for the thoughtful interview and to Mike Schandorf for inviting me up to UIC.