firststep

Every time I said "I should have written something about it", nothing will have been written afterward. In the previous post, I promised I will write something about my January. Well, it is now April, in the (hopefully) middle of the coronavirus pandemic. I think I should quickly summarize my 2020 Q1. To give my future-self a little bit of the historical context: the world is experiencing a global coronavirus pandemic. From December 2019 (or possibly earlier), this coronavirus disease was first identified in Wuhan, China. As of today, more than 1.9 million cases have been reported, among them over 118,000 deaths. Most of the EU countries are currently in lock-down and many people are working from home. I am among one of these people.

Because I am staying at home most of the time, I have more time to be with my wife together. That’s a good thing because we can have more time to watch movies, read books, cook, eat, drink and play together. Our favorite pastime, besides reading, is playing board games online together with our (Taiwanese) friends in Germany. Although not all of us are in Mannheim, we are in the same time zone.

OK, enough with the future historical context. Last December, I wrote about my objectives for 2020 and I will do regular OKR. I think it is a good time now to do that.

think out loud

It is mainly about writing blog. I would say in this category, I am not doing so well. So far, I have only written 2 blog posts in Q1 and mostly about books I have read. I think it is nice to share what I have read. It would be better to write about something else, e.g. programming, the academia etc.

contribute to open source

For this objective, I have met my original goal. I have released oolong (a validation tool) on CRAN. I am now readying two other packages for CRAN release: resdtmf and textplex. In additional to these, I am now a contributor to the marimo project.

publish top papers

This one is naturally a long shot. So far, I have not published any paper in the Q1 of 2020. But I have submitted a few, revised a few and hopefully, I could have some key results in Q2-Q3.

I have submitted myself 2 papers and 1 extended abstract for the ICA conference. One paper has been accepted for oral presentation and the rest of one paper and the extended abstract have been accepted for poster presentation. In sum, there are 6 accepted papers with my name.

About ICA, there are little details that I cannot share at this moment. But sure, these things would be exciting, to say the least.

Apropos coronavirus, this year’s ICA will be a virtual conference. Given my adversion to academic conferences, I am actually quite happy that I don’t need to travel half a planet (plus the CO2 emission) to present my papers to perhaps 30 attendants. History will show that virtual conference is more cost effective and this corona pandemic is a catalyst for changes. If the coronavirus pandemic is going to teach us anything, it is our pre-coronavirus-pandemic “normality” is lavish, not normal.

improve myself

In the original version of the objective, I said I want to improve my English and German. I think now I should take this in a broader sense.

Since 15 January I have tried to eat lesser meat. I am now basically eating no meat. I think my initial reason for eating lesser meat is related to climate. My wife and I decided to do that together and it was the biggest driving force for our success. Now I can feel the health benefit of being a vegetarian and for me, and for us, it is a win-win (save the environment and save ourselves). If you could, I think it is a thing to try.

Also, I have read a book after another. In a quarter, I have read 10 books.

For this objective, maybe I have not reached the original goal. But I feel really good about it.

publish a book

The book project has some breakthroughs. But at the same time, many challenges.

The most important breakthrough, of course, is that, I have gotten the ball rolling. The biggest surprise is that I could buy the domain name: automatedcontentanalysis.com. A perfect domain to host this book project.

I have written 3 chapters. But the last three chapters are much more challenging. And I can foresee I might not be able to devote the same amount of time to this project in the near future like I did in Q1.

For OKR purposes, I did fine for this objective. But I might have troubles down the road.


OK, that was my OKR. Next section: my 3-sentence book reviews.

Affective Publics: Sentiment Technology, And Politics

  • Zizi Papacharissi, Oxford University Press, 2014

I think this book is now a classic of how to write a theoretical piece with some twitter analyses. The analyses are quite simplistic in today’s standard but some messages in this book are timeless. However, sentiment analysis (of tweets) is a deceptively simple but difficult task.

The Element of Style

  • William Strunk Jr., 1923

A very short book. I like Chapter 4 “Words and Expressions Commonly Misused”. As a ESL-user, I feel that every word needs to have a manual of usage.

The Charisma Machine: The Life, Death, and Legacy of One Laptop per Child

  • Morgan G. Ames, MIT Press, 2019

A wonderful book that changes my worldview about Logo, Seymour Papert, Nicholas Negroponte, MIT Media Lab and the subject matter of the book: OLPC. The concept of charismatic technology is interesting. I need to rethink our relationships with new technology and how could technology helps the global south.