tools

Tools, Part 2: Citations

For scholars who quote other scholars over and over again (and forget more and more what the quoted text actually is saying), citation managers are a must. Endnote is one of the main contenders here, expensive but generously sponsored by universities. The same can be had for free and compatible with plain text. CiteProc is integrated in pandoc, the swiss army knife of plain text conversion. Point to a bibtex file - e.

Tools, Part 1: Plain text

In our research management course (which is a completely different story to be told another time) we learned that we should use some time to “sharpen our knife”. Being a big fan of good craftsmanship also and particularly in academic work, I liked the idea that good tools need maintenance. I am not living up to my ideal, admittedly, because I play too much with my tools, but I am constantly surprised how academics keep up with the ok-ish tools provided to them by Microsoft [^cannot say much about Apple products since I avoid them and they are easy to avoid].

Time management

You can say a lot about the outdatedness of academia, but in terms of flexible work regimes we are still at the forefront. The official version justifying this lack of rules about when and what to work is that we need a certain freedom from hierarchies and institutions to be able to produce new thoughts. But instead of strict and formalized hierarchies, academia has devised its own set of tools that keep the workers at bay: struggle for recognition from your peers and fighting for funding reading the lips of the funding organizations, with other words: precariousness and vanity - usually in this order: first many years of precariousness and then a good deal of vanity - or maybe it is just habit to continue to thirst for recognition.

Getting Started

Being a self-hosting kind of guy, I decided to take control of my presence on the web. Our university’s pages are ok, but there is not much control over the content, which has to follow the form of an organization whose goals I do not always share. Enter Hugo, a static website creator, the academic theme, which feels like a whole tool itself. So far I like what I see: meaningful defaults, useful tools, contemporary look (which will be outdated soon, of course), and it fits well into my toolbox which consists of a self-hosted instance of gitlab, self-hosted zotero storage with automatic export to bibtex, my markdown based work flow, and my many linux containers doing their quiet work in my basement.