Monday, March 08, 2004

First day at work

Today I started my new job – a sessional tutor at a Melbourne university. It was a weird day to be starting, as it’s a public holiday for all of Melbourne, bar us “knowledge workers” (hah!).

After getting to work with plenty of time to spare (7:35 am for 8:00 am start), I sat in my car and read. There is no office for me – even a shared one – or staff room of any description. My day's tutorials went well enough, I thought, until I received a frantic phone call on my mobile from the lecturer in charge, wanting to know where I was. I had just my schedule finished for the day, but a student had contacted her saying I was a no show for the last hour.

Several hours of investigation later, it turns out that, consequence of a whizz-bang (of-course) new tutorial online-enrolment computer system, new tutorials had been automatically generated by the system, without any responsible person (= academic or admin staff) being notified. Such a system presumably regards vacant rooms and peak student demand as its optimising factors – telling academics about its executive decisions, let alone considering where the necessary extra academic labour might come from (I had been effectively double-booked) are clearly beyond its parameters. It’s perversely gratifying to see that, in 2004, academic labour has finally become such a trifling consideration at universities as to deserve no input – quite literally.

No doubt my blog-opposite, Andrew Norton, would delight in this fiasco as a productivity miracle, or some-such. On a related topic, one of Andrew’s co-bloggers at Catallaxy Files, Jason Soon, goes into bat – rather too sweetly, I think – against “More Poofs Needed in Boondocks” academic and roving consultant, Richard Florida. Particularly recommended reading is a Boston Globe article that Jason links to (also found via

Apart from own my just-finished episode of long-term unemployment as a highly-educated gay man – and in a cosmopolitan metropolis to boot – negating Florida’s stupid pet theory to its bootstraps, it’s not really necessary to stick the stiletto heel into Florida any further, IMO. Appropriately enough though, Richard Florida’s waning (I presume) career will soon bring him to Melbourne’s very own Fashion Festival.

And what a sight this $400-a head seminar is going to be - a room full of rural council rep's, dutifully taking notes on how Gay is the New Snowy, or whatever. Gay is the New Work for the Dole fodder, more like it.

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