The downside of being an entrepreneur researcher on the cusp is that much of what I feel most excited by in my research, and its potential for practical applications, is what I need most keep secret.
I've been reading through "Nolo's Patents for Beginners" and their 8th Edition "Patent, Copyright & Trademark" (Looks like they've just come out with a 9th edition).
I've been trying to follow the mantra I've heard from various sources "protect your ideas". Develop them, yes! But also protect them. In part, this sense of protection grows from my professional isolation. Had I been granted a tenure-track post right out of grad school (or even starting a year or two later) I might never have worried much about it. I'd have felt supported, and much more willing to simply give of my work.
It's not that I want to horde it. It's simply that I wish to reap some of the benefits of the work personally, for me, for my family. Remember, I've gotten virtually nothing for that PhD. I'm disappointed that it means so much less than I expected, at least in my field. There are simply too many damned PhDs out there, many (if not most) of whom really haven't contributed anything new to the field, to knowledge and understanding. They've simply dug up some obscurity that had been previously overlooked. And it's often these folks who get the jobs.
Sure, I'm still a little bitter. But I've taken the bit out my mouth, and set it aside. I think of the comment I heard from a faculty member (who wasn't on my committee) whom I had shown my original dissertation proposal to. He remarked on one of my goals expressed in one of the latter chapter outlines, "You say here, you want to discuss the relevance of the work. That's not something we ask in this field. What's the relevance of Mozart's choice of B-minor in this piece? It's not an interesting question."
I still shudder at his comment. Because I deeply feel that we bloody well ought to ask what the relevance is of our work. If not, what's the point? Suffice it to say, I didn't write a dissertation about Mozart's choice of B-minor in any piece. Relevance was important in my efforts, and even more so today.
I must tread lightly, protect my ideas. I want them to have an impact on society. That's the whole point for me.
I suppose I'm unenthusiastic about my imminent teaching because it seems what I'll be teaching will have little to do with relevance, with the research I'm engaged in, which I begin to see as my "real work". Getting through this next year, finding focus, maintaining it: those will be my challenges.