An academic journey begins in the information age

2016-01-18

I once read a quote that still remains with me, whenever I encounter a challenging opportunity, for which I am not sure whether I should pursue it or leave it. It reads as follows “opportunity does not knock twice on your door”. With such a quote in mind, I often encounter opportunities that are often not very informative, particularly when you start predicting what that journey could look like?

My first encounter with an academic life begin by the end of 2008 when I started my PhD studies. I was quite young and vibrant, yet I did not start this journey with ease. The first thought of becoming a PhD student was that I am taking a burden on my shoulders that will be extremely challenging and tedious at times. I begin this journey with a dose of anxiety, in particular that for me, failure was the last resort that I would need to experience.

Despite the excitement that I had from within, that thought kept staying with me for quite some months until I started to admire the most challenging task that every PhD student undergoes. The task of finding that perfect research topic and research question that would bring something new and important to the world.

That admiration begin by reading the works of Manuel Castells, the famous sociologist who still writes about the Information Society. Castells gave me insights that were distant to me at that time, yet his writings were so inspirational that I simply got rid of my anxiety and started to work as a true academic with passion.

It was Castells who argued that we live in an information society that started to develop on the basis of transformations in our societies experienced in three domains, he said: (i) the world is continuously building a new social structure (the network society) with developments of information technology; (ii) the world is constantly developing a new economy (informational capitalism); and, (iii) the world is evolving into a new global culture (the Internet culture and the presence of the virtual information and the virtual world). In essence, these three domains evolved as new movements in the 1970s, ultimately focusing on information flows, by looking at the production, consumption, distribution, control and even the manipulation of information.

It was exactly these aspects that challenged me to think deeply and wisely to bring up a research topic during my PhD studies curriculum that allowed me to enjoy every step and every challenge that showed up, often catching me by surprise.

Yet, as I was once hooked to my research topic that focused on the notion of ”information inadequacy”, I no longer had the anxiety, because the questions that kept rolling on my mind were very deeply rooted in various problems that we still experience, that I believed, they even kept me challenging Castells himself.

I often asked, why then we still have all those challenges that the information age is not solving? Such as: why do we call our age the Information Age when not even half of the world is connected to the Internet to this day to enjoy all the benefits of the modern living? Why is it so that the world still runs on the basis of information lack when all we hear is that we live in the age of information overflow? And how is it possible to live in a modern society where information technology has flourished, yet insecurity has taken its own path?

Questions as those kept me attached to my research topic that never let me abandon it, but pushed me to work with passion. It is to this day that I have yet to find some decent, yet partial answers to these questions, which still keep me passionate and busy, researching for the unknown answer.

In 2008, despite all the anxiety that had engulfed me, I said: ”let the academic journey begin”, which continues to this day without anxiety, but with passion and curiosity.

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