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The viva

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In my last post I was questioning “what a bad viva is like”… fortunately, I have no first person story to share with you on how horrible a viva can be… as… mine went extremely well! It was on Tuesday the 20th of November, at 11 am.

Exactly one week ago I sat in a very little room in Goldsmiths with my two PhD externals (which I will not name because I have not asked them permission to be in this blog) and a big book full of notes and tags on the table (that was my PhD!). It was kind of weird. I had passed a week trying to anticipate  possible questions, studying my external’s publications, playing at devil’s advocate… and there they were, in front of me, and ready to fire questions…

Brrrrr… a little anxiety was there, on the back of my mind, although I kept reminding myself that those two guys are genuinely interested in the field of i-docs and that there was therefore no reason to imagine a blood bath… but you know, too many films with no happy endings…. too many years passed writing this PhD…

Anyway, the first question was an easy one: to link the PhD to the bigger story of my life. That was easy, I had fully prepared an answer to this, and actually the reasons for which interactivity fits well into my way of seeing the world is one of my favorite topics in life so… easy peasy…

We then moved into definitions of “change”… and historic overview of the concept of “interactivity”. I actually think this is a weak point of my thesis – as my ideas developed as I was writing – and I never clearly explained where some definitions come from, and why so many logics of interactivity (what I call modes of interactivity) need to be considered. Somehow this is clear in my mind but not so clear in my writing so… it felt good to clarify that what is missing on paper is easily explainable.

Slightly less easy was a question of methodology: why Cybernetics, and what are limits of such approach? Bizarrely I had prepared this answer too… but within the context of the discussion, within activism and my case studies… what I had prepared seemed very flat… so I had to blab something on the fly… but I knew, as I was saying it, that this was not 100%   convincing… You know that sliding effect… you know when you are sliding but you do not know if it is better to make a fuss (showing that you are aware that you are about to fall) or if it is better to look “cool”… with the risk of ending flat on the floor. This is where having supervisors that are there to have a genuine discussion with you – instead of looking for a point where to attack – is very useful: we worked out a convincing reply all together… and this also allowed me to learn something new… quite refreshing really…

I can’t remember all the topics we discussed… it was two intense hours of discussion… and I was quite hyped – so can’t really remember clearly now that I am more relaxed… but the bottom line is that I passed with NO corrections – meaning: I am done!!!! Is this not amazing!!!  A week later and I can still hardly believe it!!!

As I was waiting for the viva to start I tough about the waiting time before the delivery of my kids: you know that it will probably hurt, but by that stage you are so bored of waiting that you just want it to be over! Well… the viva proved to be very different than giving birth to a baby: first of all it was WAY less painful (but then, hey, other stories might say the opposite, you never know!) but more than anything it is all about staying in control – while my deliveries were more about letting go and hoping that things would work out by themselves…

More importantly: once a baby is born your life is super busy with feeding, changing nappies, learning to be a parent… while after a viva there is a sort of “baby blues” –  that I did not have with my own kids!!! The “what next question” is obviously there, but the strange thing is that my life is all the same as before (even as busy as before – because of all the things that I postponed). Of course I have celebrated, and will continue to do so on and off during this month, but fundamentally it is over and yet… all feels the same…

OK, stepping aside from the poor comparison babies/PhDs… there might be more to come on the the PhD side – as both of my externals highly suggested to publish my PhD…

So this is where I am at: resting just enough to find the strength to start re-writing the PhD once more!!!!

Did I really say that?

As a result I was discouraged from publishing the final version in this blog… this really is a problem for me… as I have always shared everything through this website… so… I’ll have to think about it.

Many warm thanks to those that have been following my steps during this last years and… if you want to follow  my writing do check out  as, for now, this blog will have to reach its final full stop!

Bye for now,


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This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 27th, 2012


  1. On December 13th, 2012 at 04:44 Jeni Thornley wrote:

    I read some of your blog a year or two back and today I re-connected! I like your labour- baby-phd discussion…there’s a lot in that…I relate to, both as a mother and as a finished PHD person…I also like Freud’s essay ‘Analyis terminable and interminable’….actuallly like having children the thesis lives on in all kinds of ways! you might like : issues in documentary on facebook:
    cheers Jeni

  2. On December 13th, 2012 at 04:49 Jeni Thornley wrote:

    I read some of your blog a year or two back and today I re-connected! I like your labour- baby-phd discussion…there’s a lot in that…I relate to, both as a mother and as a finished PHD person (in 2010)…I also like Freud’s essay ‘Analysis terminable and Interminable a lot ‘; actually as in having children – the thesis lives on in all kinds of ways! I really like your thinking around documentary. And congrats for completion. The doctorate is hard, and painful…but, in my mind and body nothing compares to the feeling of the baby’s head pounding on the cervix to open; that is painful- but you do get a live baby at the end (if you are lucky). You might like : “Issues in documentary” on facebook:
    cheers Jeni

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