Tuesday, 1 January 2013

On Being Dr Nostromo

January 2013
Well here it goes my first blog!! I’ve decided to start doing this following my experiences on Twitter where I have been surprised in the interested people seem to have in my inane musings and rantings,  a few people have mentioned to me that I should consider blogging, so here we go, I can at least give it a try.
Something that a lot of people have asked (well one or two anyway) is where did the nom de guerre / nom de plume Dr Nostromo come from. It may come as a surprise to some that it has very little to do with the mining ship in Alien and although that is a pretty good film all in all I’m not a massive fan of SciFi as a genre.  It all goes back to when I first joined Twitter, some eighteen months ago now following a course I attended on research leadership. (Crucible Cymru it was called, but that can be a subject of another post)  One of the sessions was on academic use of social media.  I had used Bebo and Facebook previously and although I had never really engaged with the platforms I had found them useful for research purposes, particularly for staying in contact with research participants. During the presentation on Twitter one of the other course attendees, who I had already taken a little of a dislike to, turned to me and said “Twitter is for idiots who just like the sound of their own voice and have got nothing to say”.  I thought that was a tad rich coming from this particular individual as what he had just said pretty much summed up my analysis of his character, but I also thought, well if this guy doesn’t like it there must be something in it :-/.
Anyway, two of the other course participants @DrBillyo and @Handee who were already on Twitter provided additional guidance and advice but of course now the time came for choosing a Twitter name.  There were a number of others on the course who joined the same time and as all of us had Ph.Ds a number choose Dr this or Dr that.  I did consider@DrMONeill  but Martin O’Neill is such a common name I wanted something a little more distinctive.  As I was setting up my Twitter account in my study (that sounds a bit grand!!) / computer room and  with me being a big fan of Joseph Conrad there were a number of his work on the bookshelf. I was immediately drawn to the title Nostromo not only because I thought it had a nice ring to it. “Dr Nostromo” but also from the character from the book who seems to be a bit of an outsider who is fighting against something all the time but you are never 100% sure what.  Also, as hopefully should become evident through this blog , Italy has played a major role in shaping my life.  The term Nostromo comes from two Italian words “nostro”  “uomo” which respectively mean “our” and “man” but the term is also used  to denote a skipper/ foreman. So with all those connotations of meaning it very much seemed to fit the bill.
The name seems to have stuck now.  I have attended conferences and seminars and people who I have never met before come up to me and say “Dr Nostromo I presume” I have been walking through the streets of Swansea and the same has happened. In my department in the coffee bar colleagues ask “How are you Dr Nostromo”. All in all I am happy with the name and particularly to have one associated with such a great writer as Conrad, who’s writing I’m sure can form the basis of another blog entry.
So there you have it friends my first blog, sorry if you find it boring and inane, still new to it but I hope in the future to blog about life, politics, academia, community, Wales and everything in between.
Dr N