Playing research

Research is a game. If it’s not, it should be. Research is the game of finding new points of view. Only through play do we relax enough for finding new points of view. But how should this game look like? What are the rules? What are the good practices? In this talk I present the game I play.

Here are some pointers:

Great ideas tend to be unreasonable at first. Or as Einstein put it: "If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it". Serious people reject anything that looks unreasonable. So don’t take it too seriously. Have fun. Get foolish.

Play a relevant game.
Pick the research problem carefully. Mainstream problems might appear easier to sell, but almost everyone else tackles them, too. What’s more, these problems concern today’s situation. Be bold. Find a new angle. Research for tomorrow.

Play an interesting game.
Research is not a job, it is a state of mind. If you do not see the object of your research everywhere around you, you are doing something wrong. Get excited. Look beyond the everyday routine.

Play your game.
What is readily available influences your ideas. Choose your infrastructure carefully, do not just take the default or popular one. Take control and invest in it. Identify the variable points and build your own infrastructure if the one provided is not flexible enough.

Play together.
Lonesome research tends to focus on small problems. Only collaborative research has the potential of addressing larger problems successfully. Moreover, building a reliable infrastructure is difficult and it is most of the time out of the scope of typical research projects. Collaboration can lighten the task.

Play concretely.
Ideas are fluffy. In their fluffiness they look nice and shiny, but the devil is always in the details. Go the extra mile and make them concrete.

Play openly.
Ideas are never ready. There is always something else to add. And there is always a point of view you did not consider. Instead of waiting for the right time, expose them as soon as possible and to any audience willing to listen. Make your ideas demoable, and get feedback.