Interview with Ted Jackson

  • Who are you? What do you?

    I'm a grad student at Washington University until the end of this school year when I will have hopefully finished and defended my dissertation on Hermann Hesse. In general, I'm really interested in modernism specifically, but I'll take an intellectual stab at about anything written from 1890 to the present. Despite being a humanist, I'm a bit of a computer geek: I'm writing my dissertation in LaTeX and a religious Lifehacker reader. I don't really do code, though, apart from the occasional Automator action or Applescript.

    Someday I would like to have a real job and maybe another cat or, dare I say, a first kid? I love a good book, but usually something that is a balance between complicated/dry and entertaining. I can tolerate a lot of craziness in a book, but let's face it, Ulysses is incredible though not exactly fun reading.

    I'm an avid knitter and sometimes spinner. I learned when I was about 6 or 7 from my great aunt, had a long hiatus, and started again in about 2004 with a pair of really loose socks. I also have a bin of worms in my apartment that compost food for me. Oh, and I love my cat, Dot.

  • Merino vs. Blue-faced Leicester?

    Blue-faced!

  • Lets talk about technology: What kind of technology do you use, and what's the coolest thing that technology enables for you? What about your technology do you find frustrating?

    I'm a total mac person, but I dabble in open-source things. My favorite ability at the moment is to be able to sync bookmarks and notes to my computer and iphone via Evernote. I'm hoping I don't tire of it. I'm very forgetful, so knowing what's on my grocery list at any given time is awesome. I've even got a notebook of knitting ideas and patterns on there.

    I find Twitter completely frustrating, yet I find myself tweeting all the time. I've tried about 5 different clients, but none of them hide the messages I've already read and keep them hidden between computer and phone. Then there are those folks who write drivel constantly, but I can't unfollow them because I'm afraid they'd be offended. The worst, though, is that people think it's an acceptable form of news reporting.

  • Favorite book you've read in the last year? Runners up?

    My favorite book for the last couple years has been Donna Tartt's The Secret History. I'm thinking about reading it again, that's how much I liked it! I tried and got through 3/4ths of Crime and Punishment this summer, but have since abandoned it. Right now I'm reading Smilla's Sense of Snow.

  • Favorite Website?

    icanhazchezburgur although my browser says that I visit Ravelry more often!

  • What do you think was the most important event of the last 15 years?

    It's really hard to even begin to answer this question, but I suppose I have to give it a shot. I'd say it is probably the proliferation of wireless phones. Especially with the ability to take pictures and send text messages internationally, hostile leaders and regimes can no longer squelch the voices of their people. Honestly, in 1994 I never imagined myself owning a cell phone, let alone one that would be able to let me surf the internet or send email. For that matter, even when I was in college, email attachments were problematic: I also wouldn't have imagined me writing my dissertation in a city five hours away from my advisor.

  • The next 10?

    This will be us as a society learning to deal with this technology, especially for the type of people not used to teaching themselves to use new technology. Some people, like my parents, are slowly adapting to a digital lifestyle and are even fascinated with new gadgets without being pressured by people like me. I never considered myself a computer person, though, but rather one who could read the instruction manual. So much of the new technology assumes the user has a basic grammar of what it means to interact with a machine. Graphics replace text menus, and all of a sudden squares and triangles are essential instead of quick references. What this also means is that people like my grandparents may soon be completely left in the dark. I find it laughable that stacks of paper phone books still show up on my building's doorstep, but my grandparents would have no idea of how to find a phone number, even if they had a computer.

  • One thing that you're most looking forward to in the next year?

    I'm very excited about finishing my dissertation and to finally become what my family refers to as "Dr. Ted".

  • One thing that you wish you could learn?

    I would really like to be good at yoga, enough to give me exercise in the winter time and relaxation in the summer. I always feel like I will have to spend a fortune on lessons or classes. I've tried watching tapes, but I need someone to bend my legs and put my feet where they are supposed to go.

  • Hegel vs. Heidegger?

    Hegel wins in my book because I use his dialectic all the time. Sadly, I don't know much about Heidegger at all.

  • Where can we find more about you/your projects?

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