Friday, January 13, 2012

Long term impact

Once upon a time, a life-time ago, in land far far away, I wrote an op-ed piece about a local crime. It created a lot of hype and controversy because, among other things, being the bleeding heart that I am, I advocated a form of justice that took into account issues of class and opportunity when deciding a punishment.

Some feminist friends lauded me, others claimed I was soft hearted an hurt "the cause." I lost friendships over the article, which surprised me. Then the article was republished in a book, which surprised me even more. The years passed, and I moved onto my new life as a scientist.

Recently, two things happened that made me realize that while I've moved on, the op-ed is still part of the political conversation. One was a master's student contacting me for a copy of the article for a class essay. Another was a reference made by a friend who found out about the article in a political discussion with a group of people who are complete strangers to me.

I'm thrilled by these two little facts. I have hopes that I will write a scientific paper that will be relevant nearly 10 years after its first publication. But for something I wrote so long ago, as a non-expert in the relevant field, to still have impact... I almost don't care what is being said about the piece. The fact that it is still part of the conversation is enough.

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