The intentional professional

I'm involved in a local effort to launch a coworking and business incubation space in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, where I live. Like most things worth doing, it's taking some time, but I think we'll get there eventually. Along this journey, I heard a lovely phrase recently — intentional community. What a great way to describe a group of coworkers and entrepreneurs, implying a group formed not just on purpose, but also with purpose

But it made me think too — it made me wonder if some of the communities I'm involved in might be unintentional — accidental, inadvertent, perhaps even a mistake? Would you describe your workplace as intentional? If you're a student, are your classes intentional? That committee you're on — is that intentional?

Another phrase that keeps popping into my head lately is

Don't be a looky-loo. — Clay Shirky, Cognitive Surplus

Even if you don't know what a looky-loo is, you'll recognize the behaviour immediately. A looky-loo is someone who, taking Woody Allen's advice a little too seriously, thinks 80% of success is showing up. If you've ever organized a meeting, with an idea that you might get something done in it, you know the sort: they arrive, they eat the cookies, they do the small talk, then they sit there and stare at you for an hour, then they leave. No input given. No notes taken. No point being there. 

Next time you hear yourself described in passive terms — attendee, reader, employee, student, user, consumer, react to it. You're being described as a person that things happen to. A victim.

Instead of being an unintentional victim, think of yourself an essential part of whatever it is. You are a participant, a partner, a stakeholder, a contributor, a collaborator. If you're not an essential part of it then, for everyone's sake, don't go.

This is what professionalism is. 

J is for Journal

I'm aware of a few round-ups of journals for geologists, but none for those of us with more geophysical leanings. So here's a list of some of the publications that used to be on my reading list back when I used to actually read things. I've tried to categorize them a bit, but this turned out to be trickier than I thought it would be; I hope my buckets make some sense.

Journals with mirrored content at GeoScienceWorld are indicated by GSW

Peer-reviewed journals

Technical magazines

  • First Break — indispensible news from EAGE and the global petroleum scene, and a beautifully produced periodical to boot. No RSS feed, though. Boo. Subscription only.
  • The Leading EdgeGSWRSS — SEG's classic monthly that You Must Read. But... subscription only.
  • Recorder is brilliant value for money, even if it doesn't have an RSS feed. It is also publicly accessible after three months, which is rare to see in our field. Yay, CSEG!

Other petroleum geoscience readables

  • SPE Journal of Petroleum Technology — all the news you need from SPE. It's all online if you can bear the e-reader interface. Mostly manages to tread the marketing-as-article line that some other magazines transgress more often (none of those here; you know what they are).
  • CWLS InSite — openly accessible and often has excellent articles, though it only comes out twice a year now. Its sister organisation, SPWLA, allegedly has a journal called Petrophysics, but I've never seen it and can't find it online. Anyone?
  • Elsevier publish a number of excellent journals, but as you may know, a large part of the scientific community is pressuring the Dutch publishing giant to adopt a less exclusive distribution and pricing model for its content. So I am not reading them any more, or linking to them today. This might seem churlish, but consider that it's not uncommon to be asked for $40 per article, even if the research was publicly funded.

General interest magazines

  • IEEE SpectrumRSS — a terrific monthly from 'the world's largest association for the advancement of technology'. They also publish some awesome niche titles like the unbelievably geeky Signal Processing — RSS. You can subscribe to print issues of Spectrum without joining IEEE, and it's free to read online. My favourite.
  • Royal Statistical Society SignificanceRSS (seems to be empty) — another fantastic cross-disciplinary read. [Updated: You don't have to join the society to get it, and you can read everything online for free]. I've happily paid for this for many years.

How do I read all this stuff?

The easiest way is to grab the RSS feed addresses (right-click and Copy Link Address, or words to that effect) and put them in a feed reader like Google Reader. (Confused? What the heck is RSS?). If you prefer to get things in your email inbox, you can send RSS feeds to email.

If you read other publications that help you stay informed and inspired as an exploration geophysicist — or as any kind of subsurface scientist — let us know what's in your mailbox or RSS feed!

The cover images are copyright of CSEG, CWLS and IEEE. I'm claiming 'fair use' for these low-res images. More A to Z posts...