Post conference assessment – Write more.

Sometimes you have to see what out there to see if you’re ready to start writing.  I think.  I just finished reading over a great post from a fellow blogger here about “constructive procrastination.”  I thought the “Ig Nobel” prize was some type of typo… and for a minute I thought someone really had won a prize for a theory of “constructive procrastination.”  Nope.  I wish.  It’s just procrastination.

Law Faculty of the University of Toronto


One favoured method of procrastination (for grad students at least) is the “oh, I just need to read this one more article” variety.  I’m a chronic sufferer.  Actually I enjoy it.  Reading’s fun.  Someone who spoke to our required legal research methodology course put forth a theory of such procrastination something along the lines of; “When you start to have conversations with the footnotes, it’s time to start writing.”

I think I’ve been there for a while.  At this point, in the area I’ve chosen to focus on, I think it’s as likely as not that by the time I read a something that’s footnoted, I can guess to whom it’s going to be credited.  I often have opinions about them too – “Oh, it’s that horrible paper by so-and-so again.  Why does that get so much attention?”

I got to go to a great conference a few weeks ago at the University of Toronto Law Faculty.  It was devoted to cloud computing, the subject of my thesis.  Cloud computing brings up all types of issues, starting with jurisdictional ones.  What law applies to U.S. based services like Facebook or Google Street View in Europe?  What about if the U.S. government wants information about data stored on cloud productivity apps with some connection to the U.S.? Is this unusual?

These questions are made especially difficult by the fact that the differences between approaches can be particularly different between countries.  Having gone to law school in the U.S. and becoming interested in law and technology just a coupe of years ago, not too long ago I thought the terms “privacy commission” or “data protection agency” sounded funny.  Turns out, most western democracies have something like that.

I was very excited to go to this conference because I’d read papers by about half the presenters.  I myself wasn’t presenting, but I had contributed a lot of research to the work of one of the professors who was.  I learned a lot, but I also felt like I was already in this game.  I had opinions on what was being said, agreeing with some of the presenters more than others.  Even the stuff that was new, I had a framework for understanding.  It hit me shortly afterwards that it’s time to move from mostly reading to mostly writing.

I’ll miss being able to just read and feel like I’m getting something done.  From now I’ll be asking myself if I’m really reading because I need to fill in some facts, or just to procrastinate.

Oh, and anyone heading off to a conference should check out the GREAT grants.

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