Intellectual labor

I’ve been working on a large project for months now. Some days it’s invigorating. Some days it’s tedious. There are parts of the work that are really creative; others have some judgment calls and some – looking for typographical errors – have no creativity whatsoever.

Going to work this morning, I thought of the one “labor” song I know that’s written about this kind of data work: Stan Rogers’White Collar Holler (lyrics by Nigel Russell).  The juxtaposition of chain-gang spiritual style with data work gives me a smile as a I go about the day:

Then it’s code in the data, give the keyboard a punch
Then cross-correlate and break for some lunch
Correlate, tabulate, process and screen
Program, printout, regress to the mean

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4 comments

    • GREAT!!

      Stan Rogers may speak to a generation that wasn’t born when the song was written. They probably need an explanation of the line about bend, fold, spindle… Never having seen a punch card.

  1. Intellectual labor creates a different kind of tired. Physical labor is almost more sleep-inducing. I grind away at this computer for my freelance writing jobs, and have to get out and MOVE to dekink myself!

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