Thursday, December 01, 2005

The End of the Beginning

Officially that was the last posting for this course (Univ Maryland DMGT720). However, I have learned a lot about the creative process of writing and the real power of hte mind to generate ideas when it is forced.

Freewriting is definitely something that I will use again in the future. As mentioned in a couple of the entries, I used frewriting to create a fast first draft of a chapter for the book Dynamic Modeling. Each chapter was written by a different author. Half of the authors did not meet the deadline for their manuscripts. Freewriting helped me be one of the half that did meet the deadline.

It has been a great learning experience.

What I Plan to Do

So, now we know what I will read during the break. But what will I do? First, I plan to spend more time on my bicycle. The refreshing wind does not feel the same sitting behind my computer as it does on a bicycle the first thing in the morning. Second, I will actually spend more evenings with my family. I might even take my wife to dinner a couple of times. The Saturday after I return from the f2f class is my daughter’s birthday party. So I will be at a skating rink trying to manage 10 middle school girls. That will be a lot more fun than reading about data collection methods for qualitative research. Third, I plan to look around me and wonder … what should I do with my time? Because we spend so much time studying (10-20 hours per week), we tend to forget what it is that normal people do after work every day. I do not recover from that immediately. It takes so time before I stop sitting at my computer wondering why it is not ordering me to read or write.

Actually, one of the reasons I am in this program is that I enjoy learning new material more than most of the other things I could be doing (“most”, not “all”). So these breaks remind me that I really do get a lot out of what we are doing in the DM program and that it is a better choice than watching terrible TV (nearly all of it), cleaning the house, working the yard, mindless shopping, etc.

So I do not have a huge plan for what to DO over the break.

What I Plan to Read

One of the toughest things about the DM program is that you are so busy doing homework and reading for homework that you really cannot read the things you like. I have collected a number of books through the semester that I plan to read over the 6 week break. I have more than I can get through – but that is part of the pleasure of it. Here are the books I am looking forward to right now:

1. Halo: The Fall of Reach. This is an SF novel that uses the Halo computer game as its theme. I started this because I am creating a seminar to teach to High School students and thought Halo would be a good theme for the presentation. Turns out the book is not too bad. There are 2 others in the series, but I am not sure I want more of the same armored heroes fighting evil alien hordes. Have you every wondered why an alien race who is much more powerful than us would be evil? Why not nice and helpful the way Earth people are represented in the movies? “They want our water!” is the common reply. Well, I am sure they could not have become advanced enough to travel through space without a plentiful supply of the raw materials to sustain life.

2. First In. This is the story of the CIA’s first moves into Afghanistan. It was recommended by an old government guy that I know. He said it is fascinating.

3. Seeing What’s Next. This is Clayton Christensen’s 3rd book on innovation. I read his material and turn that into conference presentations. In January I am speaking about the “Disruptive Influence of Game Technology” at the GAMES Synergy Summit. This will be the 4th conference presentation on disruptive technology. I have been able to place Christensen’s and other authors ideas into the context of the military simulation and computer gaming industry and everyone wants to hear those ideas at their conferences.

4. HBR on Innovation. This is a collection of old HBR articles on innovation. Many of these are “classics”. Also directed at my conference presentations.

5. The Harvey Girls. When we were visiting the Grand Canyon we learned the story of Fred Harvey establishing “Harvey Houses” across the west. This is the story of the girls who were hotel and kitchen staff in those hotels and how they tamed the west by marrying the wide cowboys and turning them into farmers and ranchers who would support a wife and children. There was also an old movie of the same name starring Judy Garland. We got that from NetFlix and watched it. It was good, fun, corny.

6. Harry Potter. I read an occasional Harry Potter book. The newest movie was so good, that I might want to read the book version of it.

That is all I have and certainly more than I can get through.