March 27, 2017 report
MIT professor creates reality TV series of his daily life
(Phys.org)—"What if the Kardashians were physicists?" asks César Hidalgo, an associate professor at MIT and director of the Collective Learning group at the MIT Media Lab.
Fortunately they're not, but that odd-sounding blend might be the best way to imagine Hidalgo's new project: a video series called "In My Shoes" that documents his professional life as a researcher and his personal life as a husband and father of a young daughter.
The final product—eight episodes ranging in length from 10 to 20 minutes—can be viewed at https://www.inmyshoes.info.
"The goal of the series is to help show younger people considering an academic career what the day-to-day of the life of a scholar is like," he said. "Personally, I think that this would have been very useful to me 20 years ago, when I was considering an academic career but had no role models in Chile."
Hidalgo self-recorded his life over the course of three months in 2016. During that time, he traveled extensively—from Boston to Washington, D.C.; Saudi Arabia; Switzerland; Portland; Monterrey; and Paris.
One of the major projects that Hidalgo was working on at the time was DataUSA, a website that presents all kinds of data (economic, demographic, health, education, housing, etc.) in a visual, rapidly digestible way. It's intended to provide information for policymakers, business owners, students, and job-seekers.
The video series, however, is not intended to inform us of the technical details of such projects. Instead we get an inside look at what's it like to actually be the person developing and sharing these projects, complete with all of the thoughts and concerns that any ordinary person would have. Hidalgo's narration is thoughtful, entertaining, modest, and—when it comes to what jet lag feels like after 24 hours of travel—painfully sincere. It's a unique and personal perspective of the academic life that breaks down the traditional stereotypes—especially as we learn that even MIT professors find it challenging to dress a two-year-old in the morning.
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