Category In Passing

Dissertation Process Metrics

Today, I finally turned in the final draft of my dissertation at the printers. Hopefully, I will be able to submit the thesis on Tuesday. This seems as good a time as any to look back at the last five years and try to account for the time spent:

Dissertation Time: 5 years
Start: October 2009
Submitted: September 2014

Dissertation, metrics
8 Chapters
346 Pages
100,533 Words

Books, cowritten

Edited Volumes

Journal Articles, written

Journal Articles, cowritten

Articles in Submission

Chapters in Books/Proceedings, written

Chapters in Books/Proceedings, cowritten

Other Publications

Conference Papers

Invited Talks

Other Talks

Courses, held

Summer School, participated in

Election Campaigns, worked on

Secret Evil Plans

All in all, this could have been worse.


In the coming months I will be joining the team of KampagnenPraxis. KampagnenPraxis is a nonpartisan working group of German online campaigning professionals. The aim of this group is to collect use cases of succesful online campaigns in Germany. My first reports will deal with the use of newsletters by the CDU during the campaign for the election in Nordrhein-Westfalen in early 2010 and the volunteer team NRW für Rüttgers during the same campaign.

[Update 2010/08/06]
Meanwhile my first report has been published:

Andreas Jungherr, Malte Krohn and David J. Ludwigs: Neues Kleid macht alten Newsletter erfolgreich.

All the Running You Can Do

Recently I started reading Václav Havel’s memoirs To the Castle and Back which he wrote in 2005. In his State of the World 2010 Bruce Sterling mentioned Havel’s memoirs as a good illustration of the imp of the perverse:

People don’t need what they want, and don’t want what they need. My intuitions about this have been sharpened by reading Vaclav Havel’s new memoirs TO THE CASTLE AND BACK.


There’s a lot of stuff in there about people being surprised and even flummoxed by the spectacular glee of being given what they want — great things that are clearly good for them. They’re better off by almost every objective measure, and they’d never go back, but somehow they seem to live less.

inkwell.vue.373: Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #46 of 223: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 5 Jan 10 07:21

While this is definetely an element of Havel’s memoirs. Still, after reading the first pages Havel’s memoirs made me think of something else. I’m reminded of the Red Queen’s race out of Lewis Carrol’s Through the Looking-Glass:

“Well, in our country,” said Alice, still panting a little, “you’d generally get to somewhere else — if you run very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.”

“A slow sort of country!” said the Queen. “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.”

Lewis Carroll: Through the Looking-Glass. 1872.

Havel writes his memoirs in the year 2005 looking back on his presidency. These short reflective vignettes are interspersed with excerpts from Havel’s memos to his staff which he wrote during his time in The Castle. These memos offer a detailed view on the minutiae of the day to day life of a president and his staff. What is especially poignant are the plethora of mundane details that fill these memos. As Havel puts it himself:

When I think of all those thousands of meetings I held as president, of how many worries and preparations were necessary for every one of them and how many things I had to answer – from the very basic ones concerning the future organization of the world to the most petty ones concerning, for instance, the placement of cutlery or the seating arrangements for some official dinner – it occurs to me that not only will no one ever be able to fully appreciate all that but that today, practically no one knows about it anymore.

How wonderful it is, by comparison, to be a writer! You write something in a couple of weeks, and it’s here for the ages. What will remain when presidents and ministers are gone? Some references to them in textbooks, most likely inaccurate.

Václav Havel: To the Castle and Back. Translated from the Czech by Paul Wilson. 2008. p. 35.

From this perspective Carrol’s Red Queen’s Race finds an uncanny likeness in political life. Good or Bad? Well, this judgement will have to wait.

Tell me a Story

A Story Without Love cc by Hugh MacLeod
A Story Without Love by Hugh MacLeod
(cc) Hugh MacLeod

And so this story goes:

This morning I found the gapingvoid daily cartoon #7 (The new incarnation of Hugh MacLeod‘s Crazy Deranged Fools Newsletter) in my inbox.

This little cartoon immediately put a smile on my face and reminded me of one of my favorite quotes on storytelling. A quote which, until recently, I always attributed to the manic mind of screenwriter David Milch:

Every story that works is a story of great distances and starlight which takes place in a moment of mania and is of deep delight.

Milch said this during a series of lectures onThe Idea of the Writerwhich he held over the course of five days at the WGA theatre. To me this short quote collects all the pleasures of storytelling, be it as an author or listener.

Little did I know that Milch paraphrased the American poet, novelist and scholar Robert Penn Warren. In his poem “Tell me a Story” Robert Penn Warren wrote:

Tell me a story.

In this century, and moment, of mania,
Tell me a story.

Make it a story of great distances, and starlight.

The name of the story will be Time,
But you must not pronounce its name.

Tell me a story of deep delight.

And allthough I do not see starlight just yet, this travel (from a cartoon of blogger Hugh MacLeod in 2010 to the lecture of screenwriter David Milch in 2007 to the poem of Robert Penn Warren in 1969) surely was of deep delight.

Aller Anfang

Ein vielbemühtes Klischee zeugt von den Schwierigkeiten jedes Anfangs. Folgerichtig ist dies nicht das erste Posting dieses Blogs. Ein Blog, der auch keinen Anfang markiert sondern inzwischen, je nach Zählweise, mein zweiter bzw. dritter Versuch an diesem Medium ist. Frei nach Tom Peters’ Formel “Fail. Forward. Fast.“? wird es wohl auch nicht mein letzter Versuch sein.

Glück auf!