“Less ignorant about my own ignorance”: what I gained after reading 10 academic articles in 7 days…

It’s done. I have now read 30 academic articles in 24 days. And I am significantly less ignorant about my own ignorance, which is as much as could reasonably have been expected.

Here’s the list of 20 I read, and the piece I wrote after that. Here’s the list of 10 that I just read.

All of this was a kind of fishing expedition, but not the skilled type, with the right rods, flies, bait, hooks etc. Nah, this was old school fishin’ – throw some dynamite in a pond, let the shockwave do the work, scoop some corpses off the surface.

As such, it means that I now have a superficial awareness (and occasionally understanding) of what I have yet to read, what the current debates are, some more useful distinctions (horizontals and verticals, shallows and deeps and so on)

More concretely I now know that

a) There has been a serious path dependency (but not, thank goodness, a lock-in) around my knowledge of socio-technical transitions literatures. I have to get properly up to speed on Technological Innovation Systems – the origins, additions, debates. So, I’m gonna read on this for starters

b) I gotta work more on shallow versus “deep” decarbonisation and what it would look like – what are the technological options/constraints facing cement, steel and so on. Not to participate in debates, but to not be painfully and credibility-destroyingly ignorant of the basics

c) The literatures around trade associations and their structures/motivations/behaviours

And more generally, in future, I’d be best off reading articles in clumps of five or so (20 was way too much, even 10 has left me punch-drunk, because they were all so damned rich). And it makes sense for these clumps to all be “about” a specific issue, puzzle. And these five should be relatively recent and one of the products of such guided reading would be a structured report on “here is a rough view of the field, its progenitors, its blindspots, its live debates, its conceptual/methodological favoured tools, its watering holes, and a reading list of other important looking stuff.” All (at)tuned to some very specific practical questions, obvs. I’m hired to be a data orc, not C-suite.

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