Slow e-mail. [Weekly Head Voices #32]

(post summary: I’m teaching in Stellenbosch next week. We have another published paper. Next DeVIDE will have InfoVis. Peter Norvig spouts backyard philosophy on slow email and work-life balance.)

This week, yet another Weekly Head Voices Quickies! The handsome and sun-drenched building below, known as “The BJ” to generations of students, is part of the reason for my current posting-diet. You see, next week I have the pleasure of teaching a post-graduate Visualisation course at my old university in the beautiful town of Stellenbosch. I’ve been putting together a new course especially for this purpose, which has obviously taken up a significant portion of my time.

The really pretty building under a really pretty sky where I shall be spending most of next week. (thank you Google Maps.)

The really pretty building under a really pretty sky where I shall be spending most of next week. (thank you Google Maps.)

I’m also greatly looking forward to some quality time with my SA homies. Yo homies! Oh wait, you don’t read my blog… :)

Also on the good news front, the paper that ERCI submitted to the VisWeek 2010 workshop on Visual Analytics in Healthcare has been accepted! This documents the extremely promising first steps that have been set on the path to comprehensive visual analysis of any imaging-based cohort study. Seeing as I’ll be present at VisWeek 2010 (whoohoo!), I’ll be presenting the work at the workshop on Sunday, October 24. Here’s the bibliographic information (I’ll link the full paper as soon as it goes online):

M.D. Steenwijk, J. Milles, M.A. Buchem, J.H. Reiber, and C.P. Botha, Integrated Visual Analysis for Heterogeneous Datasets in Cohort Studies, IEEE VisWeek Workshop on Visual Analytics in Health Care, 2010.

Remember, cite it soon and cite it often! You’ll be doing my HATE-index a favour.

(Nerd Warning ON) On the epiphany front, I had a nice one whilst cataloguing all the various different InfoVis / Visual Analysis software toolkits available on the Interwebs: OF COURSE WE NEED YET ANOTHER ONE! I’ve been itching to start working on a new DeVIDE release, so the next one will have Python / matplotlib / VTK Titan-based InfoVis and Visual Analysis functionality. (Nerd Warning OFF)

On the Backyard Philosophy meets Work-Life Balance meets I-need-to-wrap-this-up  front, I recently came across the following quote by Peter Norvig, director of Google Research, taken from an interview with him in the InformationWeek:

> Q. How do you achieve a work-life balance? How do you keep your professional life from dominating everything? >


> A. People get out of balance when they see their value as being able to respond quickly. If I see myself as a machine for answering email, then my work life would never stop because my email never stops. If instead I see my value as separating the important from the unimportant and making good decisions on the important, then I can go home at a reasonable hour, spend time with my family, ignore my email and phone messages all weekend long, and make sure that when I return to work, I am in the right mood to make the good decisions. >

I used to think that I needed to respond to email (and other interruptions) as quickly as possible, but I’ve also very slowly been learning that that’s not really helping anyone. One should indeed rather focus on the important things, and do them well. Communication is important, but necessarily has to take second place, as time is a limited resource. Following this advice could be interpreted in a less than positive way by correspondents who expect a response right away. However, in the long run one is worth much more, to all concerned, by focusing on the important. As with all things, there is a balance that should be sought between between communication and action, between fulfilling short-term and long-term expectations.

Dear readers, I wish you a great week, filled with important accomplishments!

p.s. I stand corrected. My SA homies do read my blog. I’m touched…