Is conference tweeting a crime? #cccwrite prompt 2

2nd writing prompt for #cccwrite and I already found myself struggling. I am a week behind on this post, but I decided to not let it off the hook just yet. The prompt asks us to reflect on our experience with conferences, on what we learned and how we shared insights from a conference on campus. „Is conference tweeting a crime? #cccwrite prompt 2“ weiterlesen

3 notebooks at Paperworld

Last weekend, I attended paperworld, the international trade fair for stationery, office supplies and writing instruments, and I went there with a clear mission in my mind: to see for myself, how an industry that USA Today recently said was “dying”, would present itself to both insiders and outsiders. This is not a comprehensive wrap-up of everything I saw – it’s just a quick recap of three notebooks.

I also went to this fair to see how writing is dealt with in non-academic contexts and to find out about trends and products that escape the academy’s self-absorption. And although I strolled about with far more than just my current job in mind, the first company I bumped into was one of the few at paperworld exclusively catering for a student target group: Whitelines.

The unique selling points are simple, but convincing: to make it easier on the eye, the paper is tinted in a light grey. Where standard paper comes with black lines on white paper, Whitelines comes with – who would’ve guessed – white lines. The combination of tinting and white lines is supposed to make writing and sketches of any kind stand out more than on normal paper – a feature that should prove to be especially handy for students who draw a lot and/or whose vision profits from a more relaxed visual input. Here’s a sample to get an idea:

As you can see, script indeed does stand out more on the Whitelines paper. A second major sales point regards how people then deal with notes once they’re taken: an app allows for easy scanning of handwritten notes and to save them in Evernote, Dropbox or your mail account. As far as I can tell, the app also increases the contrast on every scan, which makes both the tinted area and the lines disappear. Therefore, what you get are plain white scans that look quite great, and this is what sets Whitlelines apart from similar products like Oxford, e.g. Plus, the products are priced with students in mind which makes this Swedish enterprise even more charming. Check ’em out on Instagram to see more examples of the paper at work.

Another notebook I got my hands on at Paperworld were the flex books from Greece. Last year, I had already been given a sample by the German sales rep S.C. Lucht and I must say the flex book was convincing from the first moment of touch. The product is all about sturdiness. The company’s original binding combines the advantages of spiral and pin bookbinding while at the same time giving things a bit of an artistic appearance. The binding makes for a lay-flat notebook that should be esp. attractive to the left-handed and you just cannot break the spine on this one. These things really can take a proper beating, they should last for years and years without coming apart.

The third brand I want to mention in this post will be less of a surprise: Leuchtturm 1917. The re-orientation of this company since 2005 sure was a serious makeover. Formerly known esp. for their collectors’ supplies for collectors of coins and stamps, Leuchtturm is no doubt among those who successfully made the transition into the digital era. Although other brands may excel in the integration of the digital and the analoge (where Leuchtturm still remains dedicated to the latter), the family business delivers premium quality with ‘details that make a difference’ (to roughly quote the company motto).

One of their products they are currently famous for is the Bullet Journal. Although the journaling method developed by Ryder Carroll as “analoge system for the digital age” is available for free, it was his collab with Leuchtturm that would mould it into a marketable product, which the good people from Leuchtturm were generous enough to emboss with my initials.

Would I have to pick a favorite amongst these three, I’d have a pretty rough time, as I believe every notebook caters for a specific kind of writing situation – some more, than others. But all are no doubt great products and this was just a minor fraction of what there was to see at Paperworld.

Just as a quick aside: handlettering is still going strong and I was stoked to see what companies like Molotow and On the Run do and how they market their stuff. Very intriguing indeed. I wouldn’t be surprised if Graffiti soon made a major return into mainstream…

So, at the end of the day, my conclusion to Paperworld is this: Yes, the market is under pressure and yes, some sure are living through hard times in the stationery business. But it is in this regressive conditions that truly innovative approaches and business models stand out as truly original and inspiring. So is stationery really a “dying” business as USA Today proclaimed? I doubt it.

Hindsight is always 20/20

This is the first post I’ll put out as a series in the course of the Reflective Writing Club (#cccwrite) which I found thanks to Laura, the dearest source in my G+ stream of old. Thanks Michelle for arranging all this!) I (for now) work at a university writing center in Germany and I occasionally teach writing in digital environments. I encourage students to blog for 12 weeks rather than hand in a seminar paper – and tbh one of the reasons is pure selfishness, as I enjoy reading blogs way more than seminar papers. (And, as far as I can tell, students enjoy writing blogs more, too.) I signed up for #cccwrite, because I like blogging in a community: the writing prompts and comments hold it together, they give things pace and six weeks sounds doable.

That’s not me – or is it?

Now the first prompt has us reflect on a point in time in the past: What do I know now which I wish I had known back then? Oh boy. How do I do this without coming across like a total grouch? I’ll try honesty, for this is the reflective writing club, after all. I’ll mimic Lisa, who chose to go back ten years (and who aptly enough for this post of mine specializes in employment law).

early academic life was fine

In 2008, I had just finished my Master’s degree in Applied Linguistics and American Studies. I had been working at university from my first semester on and I just loved it. With Willis J. Edmondson and Juliane House I had two incredibly inspiring mentors, I learned a lot, started tutoring and soon enough got a foot into teaching. Passing on the spirit and motivation that my mentors had instilled in me was always such a pleasure. The years up to my Master’s were a breeze and if I could relive one episode of my life, this would probably be it.

I’ve always known academia as a field where if one door closes, at least two others spring open. That’s why I hardly ever questioned the direction. To me it seemed pretty obvious I’d pursue my PhD, and so I did. With a false start in a field I didn’t enjoy (sociological educational research) and relocation in pursuit of a job at one of the imho best writing centers in Germany that time, it took me eight years from start to book. I came off alright, I guess, but looking back I have to admit that my PhD years also knocked me out of the skies as far as higher education as a profession is concerned.

then reality struck

I’ve seen people treat people in manners undreamed of – and I still see it every day. I had been socialized into academia on quite different terms: my mentors always made sure to treat their students as individuals and aimed for a climate in which tasks, organisation, culture, relationships and individual people would work together in an emotionally acceptable manner and for the benefit of the institution. Now I know this is not the default setting of tenured academics or those competing for tenure. At least not in my neck of the woods.

New public management is taking a serious toll on higher education. While some of the rhetoric gives away the commoditization of education and higher education institutions increasingly seem to be run like companies, some practices would make absolutely no sense in commercial economy. One example – and you probably have something similar in the US: in Germany, since 2007 we do have a law called “Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz” ( “sciencetimecontractlaw” – now isn’t German such a pretty language… -.-) which regulates time

limitations on contracts of academic staff. Roughly speaking, you have six years before your PhD and six years after to work in the academy on a part time contract. If you’re not granted tenure by then, you can basically pack up and leave.

Forgive me that one, will ya….

While in other companies employees get more valuable with every year of experience, to the academy experienced staff get more inconvenient when it’s time for permanency. I myself do have a couple of years left, and, lucky enough, I don’t worry too much any more. But I am working together with excellent academic staff lead on a merry chase by managerial types and presidential departments. And it’s not isolated cases – it’s systemic.

I need to be in emotionally acceptable environments and I am currently not. So: had I known ten years ago what I think I know now, I’d probably have chosen a different course of study, one that still would have allowed me to act on my love for language, but one which would have steered me clear of academia way earlier.

There we go. Do I come across a total grouch yet?

Traditionelle vs partizipative Leitung

Arbeitsumwelten verändern sich und Organisationen erproben verschiedene Herangehensweisen an neue Herausforderungen. In der Industrie soll dabei etwa Produktivität erhöht und Wachstum geschaffen werden, man will neue Märkte erschließen oder Kosten senken; in der Hochschule, wo ich derzeit beschäftigt bin, geht es um Themen wie die sinnvolle Gestaltung der Studieneingangsphase, den Umgang mit Diversität, die Senkung der Studienabbruchquote, um die Gestaltung von Lernen und Lehre, um Prüfungen. Ob in Industrie oder Hochschule: ein klassisches top-down Management entwickelt sich zunehmend in Richtung kooperativer Ansätze, die Mitarbeitern mehr Verantwortung übertragen und die Unterschiede zwischen Personal mit Leitungsaufgaben und Mitarbeitern weniger scharf konturieren.

Dass Organisationen zunehmend auf offene Innovationskultur setzen, verändert auch Führungsstile. „Traditionelle vs partizipative Leitung“ weiterlesen

the article – ein studentisches Blogprojekt für die Kunstgeschichte

Kürzlich habe ich den bereits etwas älteren Blogeintrag “Studentisches Publizieren – der erste zitierfähige Beitrag” von @GeWirtschaft gefunden, in dem die Autorin einige Publikationsorgane vorstellt, die Studierenden die Veröffentlichung gelungener Hausarbeiten als erste eigene Beiträge ermöglichen. Die Autorin nennt sieben Magazine, Zeitschriften und Journale und darunter eine Reihe. „the article – ein studentisches Blogprojekt für die Kunstgeschichte“ weiterlesen

(Noch) Mehr gewuppt bekommen?

Mal ehrlich: wir alle sind schon einmal in Arbeit nachgerade ertrunken und haben dabei den Überblick über die Aufgaben verloren, die gerade um unsere Aufmerksamkeit buhlten. Und viele von uns wissen: je länger dieser Zustand anhält, desto schwieriger ist ihm beizukommen.

Als in erster Linie an Personen orientierter Charakter bekenne ich mich solcher lapsus (jawohl – mit langem U, bitte)  wohl in besonderem Maße schuldig. Aufgabenorientierten Personen fällt es sicher leichter, Aufgaben zu erledigen und bestimmte Zielvorgaben einzuhalten. Doch unmöglich ist das auch für personzentrierte Individuen nicht, wie ich inzwischen weiß. Denn: über die Jahre habe ich einige Strategien von den Checklisten-Freaks um mich herum abgeschaut, die helfen, Aufgaben effektiv zu erreichen und (selbst- und fremdgesteckte) Ziele zu erreichen. Mit folgenden fünf einfachen Strategien lässt sich mehr erreichen: „(Noch) Mehr gewuppt bekommen?“ weiterlesen

Leiten im digitalen Zeitalter?

Kürzlich ist ein neues Projekt auf meinem Radar aufgetaucht. Ich werde bestimmt an anderer Stelle ausführlicher darüber berichten – für diesen Post genügt es zu sagen: es handelt sich um ein von Studierenden initiiertes Projekt, das auch gegen institutionelle Widerstände realisiert wird. Nach einer Besprechung mit den Projektverantwortlichen dachte ich erneut an meine systemische Weiterbildung und das, was ich in den vergangenen zwei Jahren über systemische Organisationsentwicklung und -Personalführung gelernt habe. Je mehr Projekte und Leitende ich erlebe, desto mehr wächst meine Überzeugung: das “digitale Zeitalter” verlangt nach einer neuen Art Leitung und Führung, denn der digitale Wandel hat die Art, wie wir mit unseren Zielgruppen, Kollegen und Freunden kommunizieren, von Grund auf verändert.  „Leiten im digitalen Zeitalter?“ weiterlesen


Auch in diesem Jahr hatte ich wieder viel Gelegenheit, mich mit dem Schreiben theoretisch und praktisch auseinanderzusetzen; außerdem boten mir die vergangenen Monate hinreichend Möglichkeiten (oder: “drängten mir Möglichkeiten auf”), Führungsverhalten in Organisationen zu beobachten. Ein Trend, der beides miteinander zu verbinden vermag, ist Storytelling.

“Wisdom in the Age of Information and the Importance of Storytelling” by Maria Popva, CC-BY,

„Storytelling“ weiterlesen

Grammatik ohne “Grrr!”

In der vergangenen Woche sprach ich in einem Lehrlabor mit einem Kollegen aus der Romanistik über das Thema “Sprache ansprechen? Grammatik in der Lehre”. In meinem Teil bezog ich mich v.a. auf eine Quelle von Nowacek auf der WAC-Seite der University of Wisconsin. Ich halte den Input aus dem Lehrlabor in diesem Eintrag fest. Der Text betrachtet Fehler in studentischen Texten zunächst im Kontext, geht dann auf mögliche Fehlerursachen ein und gibt schließlich einige Anregungen, dem Phänomen in der Lehre konstruktiv zu begegnen.

Quelle: Flickr, meghan dougherty, CC-BY-SA, 

„Grammatik ohne “Grrr!”“ weiterlesen