I really didn’t know what was going to happen yesterday at my annual review. it was all very well my supervisor telling me it would be OK, but I had paperwork that seemed to be making value judgments, and although the words pass/fail were not used, perhaps inevitably I felt there was some kind of hurdle to jump and feared that I would be found seriously wanting.
In reality, I found the meeting very positive, helpful and affirming. OK, I came out of it aware that I have a whole heap of work to do, but it is work that I have plenty of time to do, and some of it is much more potentially onerous than other bits. Some of it is around being clear why I am not looking at some things and some of it is stuff I do need to look at and understand. I am in awe of the breadth of knowledge of some people – how do some folk know so much, even to the level of being able to point at possible things to read! I also see the need for clarity of definition – what is a community? How does one differentiate different types of community? How does Twitter, for example, compare with a text-based forum, or a 3-D virtual world, or a group of people who meet face to face, or a neighbourhood? What are the characteristics of community? Are some communities in some way richer than others?
What is it that I am doing at the end of the day? That is still a bit of a fog – and it was acknowledged that it is OK to be in a fog and that is part of the DPhil experience – but what was clear to me is that what I am saying probably has something to do with policy. That perhaps isn’t that surprising given my background in voluntary organisation management and in community development, but no bad thing to acknowledge it and recognise that is OK. I guess it also affirms one of the other things that has appeared in my diagrams which has been around change and being agents of change. This is as much about who I am as about what I know and what I understand.