The [Field 2] conference has now come to an end. A rather enjoyable, educational experience. I participated in a workshop which was one of the concurrent tracks of the conference, lasting its entire length (other than plenary talks), with papers all regarding one particular aspect of [Field 2] which most relates to my interests and my work. I gave the absolute last paper of the session. Made some new contacts, learned quite a bit more about what is going on in this area of research. I am pleased, and though this was an academic conference, I am further convinced that my current focus on applied research in industry is perhaps the best course for me.
One idea that came out of [Industry Conference] and which is confirmed in my experience here is a shift in terms of my self-identity within the broad field of research. In part, as an academic (at least for me) there is a sense that one's ideas, especially their originality, are equated with one's self, and one's self-worth. It was reflected in my recent fear about "being scooped". It seems in industry, in applied research, what is most important is not who thought of what first, but rather how these ideas are implemented. It takes some of the burden off being completely original, reduces the need to be first and only, and rests it squarely on what one does with ideas.
I have sometimes mused at the difference between Haydn & Dvorak as composers. Haydn opined that the hardest thing for him was coming up with a musical theme, everything else was easy. Dvorak for his part, perhaps singed by the view that as a "peasant musician" melody just came to him natural, reflected that musical ideas were easy: the difficulty lay in their development.
And so, just as my listening preferences lean toward the latter, I identify more with Dvorak's view of work: the idea itself is the easy part; it is merely the beginning; the real work lies in what one does with the ideas. With this new-found (or reborn) approach, it is easier for me to delight in the work of others that may advance or precede my own. Much of this is new work; there is certainly room for my contribution. Rather than feeling inadequate, or thrown off course by discovering others who have accomplished research that I have only contemplated, I am able to delight in this fact, wishing to gain from their collective wisdom, accepting my role as merely a cog in the wheel, or a ball in the bearing, rather than the engine that drives it all. I think this humility is something I have sometimes lacked. It will serve me well.
Tomorrow I head home, to begin a new journey.