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The Art of Failure

Chongqing: no, but eventually yes

It’s been two weeks since returning from a consistently foggy Chongqing. Two weeks to figure out whether our methods have enabled us to collect data that is both sufficiently relevant and of a high enough quality. Mounds of data to sift through, discussion to be had, more discussions to be had.

Every field study is an opportunity to evolve our craft, challenge our assumptions, and somewhere along the line learn something new. We’ve been bringing new equipment into the mix (hello decent audio), tweaking tried and tested methods and experimenting with a few wholly new ideas – some of which despite our best efforts and significant preparation we expect to fail. I’m pleasantly reminded of the first few minutes of Rhy’s talk last week about the importance and implications of failure, and casting my mind further back to my old boss chiding me for not failing enough. Must try harder. Must buy more rope.

The scale of what we are trying has been stepped up a notch – what would you do with two weeks in Mumbai and a team of 20? Would you sink or swim in the monsoon? (five minutes ago received a text message from our advanced team – the rains have just kicked it up a notch).

With so much interesting research to conduct has left little time to publish (and so little motivation to publish through academic channels). It’s probably time to work on something more well, meaty, but every day spent in here is one day less spent out there. What would you do? What would I do?

A belated thanks to our Chongqing ground crew: Liu Yi, Zai Yi, Ye Ning, Wang Ging, Luo Ging, Chen Li Yang, Chen Ye Chao, Gan Yi hong, Giang Zuo Mu and Huang Lin. You helped bring the city to life.