Ann Wintle: laboratory work via Skype

Ann Wintle describes the process of conducting research in luminescence dating from home, using email and Skype.

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I guess when I turned sixty in 2008, I was by then thinking, I’ve got to do something with my life, I can’t actually sit in Aberystwyth forever. You know, there are two perfectly competent people running a lab here but, you know, I will feel like the - you know, the sort of – the ghost that creeps in from time to time and this isn’t right, they need to be – not have me anywhere in sight. So yeah, I decided coming to Cambridge would be a good idea and just made the move, so … still have the same interests but no sort of – nobody to go talk to every day, but when you can do it on Skype or on the phone or send emails, it’s not – not a problem. I can still think and work and write, so that’s good. You know, I can download from libraries. That means that, you know, all the information is still at your fingertips. It’s only when you’re wanting to have a detailed discussion with somebody, equivalent to having a discussion with them in the room, that the Skype comes in and then you’re – you can do instant texting. You can almost write – you can almost type as fast as you can talk. So you can just, you know, talk like we are now but you’re just doing it on a keyboard. And that person is instantly there engaging with you, whereas if it’s emails it might take a little bit and they may have wandered off somewhere. But I mean, in this case it’s – it’s absolutely instant. And then we send – we’re still sending emails with files on them if we want to know, you know, 'what does that dataset look like?' and, ooh, 'go check your email box, I’ve just sent it to you'. So you can get that and then you can look at it and then you can both talk about it. That – that’s how it works. It’s really – it’s great. I mean, it’s, you know, you’d – I can see why in the past some people might have either gone very solitary when they retired or they disengaged totally from their academic field, because they didn’t have any interactions that – in this way, because you didn’t have the communication. Now you’ve got the communication, you know, you can discuss things with anybody anywhere. So you’ve I think probably got more chance of staying involved with your – with your research ideas. Though you don’t have the equipment to do it yourself, you’ve still got the ideas and if you hit it right you can persuade somebody to do the experiment you would do if you were there. They think it’s their experiment but, you know, you know you’ve just pushed them in that little direction, saying, ‘Ooh, I think I’d look at that, yeah.’ So that’s – that’s great fun. It also means they have to go off and spend physical time doing the experiments where you can go off and read a book [laughs].

  • Interviewee Ann Wintle
  • Duration 00:02:59
  • Copyright British Library Board
  • Interviewer Paul Merchant
  • Date of interview 11/11/2011
  • Shelfmark C1379/57
  • Keywords

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