ScienceOnline’09: Interview with Djordje Jeremic

The series of interviews with some of the participants of the 2008 Science Blogging Conference was quite popular, so I decided to do the same thing again this year, posting interviews with some of the people who attended ScienceOnline’09 back in January.
Today, I asked Djordje Jeremic (yes, he is the son of Tanja Sova), of the Paper Disciple’s Blog, to answer a few questions.
Welcome to A Blog Around The Clock. Would you, please, tell my readers a little bit more about yourself? Who are you? Where are you from? What is your interest in science? How about art?
Djole pic.jpgWhy thank you! I am Djordje Jeremic, better known by my alter-ego, Paper Disciple ( and I am an acolyte of Plicania, the Origami Muse, a beautiful but fickle mistress. [Everyone chill out. Mistress is the female form of Master, and that is what I am referring to.] My Lady graced me with the curiosity and skill in origami at an early age, and while she does not require blood sacrifice (no paper cuts to date), she is a merciless tyrant over my sleep, and she demands attention. But I love her nonetheless, as she has granted me many (read: more than 2) inspirations at times of crisis.
Now, the following is for the skeptics of the existence of goddesses and fairies (heretics!).
I am a legal immigrant (gasp! they do exist!). I began my exo-womb life in a hospital in Yugoslavia, a land which has changed size, shape and name with such agility that it would shame the chameleons, octopi, and cuttlefish of the world put together. Currently it is Serbia, or represented algebraically: Serbia = [(Serbia & Montenegro) – Montenegro – Kosovo…]. Most of my life I have moved around. At twelve I moved to Arizona, and then 2 years later to North Carolina, where I am currently residing and starting to set up some tentative roots.
My main interests in just about anything are divided into the want to know, and the searching for the purpose of said knowledge. It is a great pleasure to find out just how things work. Every time I learn something new, I feel like a child disassembling a watch to see the little gears spinning.
Continuing with the clock metaphor, after opening it and taking the gears out, I would look for a place to use the gears. Not just as a coffee holder, like some are fond of using CD-roms for, but wisely, according to what I learned. Knowledge without purpose is dull, and purpose without knowledge is dangerous. No, not just dangerous, but also slightly stupid.
I like art. [I would like to introduce a word here, if it is alright with everyone. Scotoma is the medical term for having a part of your vision disabled, but it is also a reference to a psychological trick. Remember the picture of the vase, where if you look at it differently, it looks like two faces? That effect.] Scotoma lends the possibility of being able to look at the same piece of art over and over again and every time see a new image. This obviously only works with abstract painting and some other forms, and I LOATHE abstract painting. A block of random splashes does not represent the soul equivalent of a jaguar in a jungle. I respect greatly artists who can work in apparently random smears of pigment and oil, while managing to bring out more than confusion or base emotions from the viewer.
My favorite art genres are extreme realism, and surrealism. Well, not exactly extreme realism, a photo will do, but a well done oil painting is a joy to my heart. [My atrial ventricle flaps excitedly whenever I see any of Rembrandt’s work]. Surrealism I like because it challenges your view of the world. [In Arizona I was participating in a mock Congress. My M.O. was to prepare arguments for both sides of a debate and then fight for the less represented one. I make a magnificent Devil’s Advocate.] Besides, who doesn’t like the image of a reverse magic carpet ride, with the carpet as the rider, rolled up and sitting on a flying human?
What do you want to do/be when (and if ever) you grow up?
A plane pilot. Not a Boeing, however. Being inside a gargantuan monster of steel is not my idea of a fun time. I want a one, maybe two person old style airplane, like the ones they [“They” is a weasel word and is thus not approved by Wikipedia. We’re not on Wikipedia, though.] used in WW1.[not to be confused with www1, the first internet.] I want to feel the rush of the air around me. Come to think of it, the best would be if I could fly unassisted by machines. If it turns out I can’t afford such a plane, I will go skydiving every weekend or so.
For money, I am going to either take people for rides, or fold origami professionally. Maybe even get a decent job [only if I have to]. There’s not much to it. Living like the squirrel: eat what you need, store up only for one winter, and never stay too long in one place. And, everywhere I go, I will bring my trusty laptop and wi-fi hijacker [don’t have one yet] although by the time I am 25, this very computer I am typing on and the one you are reading from will both be relics in a museum, antiques at best.
What aspect of science communication and/or particular use of the Web in science interests you the most?
The increased speed and accuracy of facts. The internet serves as a library full of librarians and writers and proofreaders. If you wanted to check what the coagulation speed of 10 milliliters of baboon blood were (just a shot in the dark, I don’t know why I picked the examples), all that is necessary is several clicks to get mostly accurate information. The world wide web, in my opinion, is a handy tool to have around, but is not a supplement to all research.
I like PloS. I do not use it as much as I would like to, but the times that I do it is educational and even fun. Every time I go there, it is like throwing darts at a carnival, but you can’t miss.
How does (if it does) blogging figure in your life and work? How about social networks, e.g., Twitter, FriendFeed and Facebook? What are some of the differences in the ways teenagers use the Web in comparison to adults who grew up without it and later in life migrated online?
I started my blog recently, 1) as a tool of flagrant self promotion, which I used mercilessly to herd millions into buying my origami on etsy. I wish. To my knowledge, the site was only visited by a couple of people, few of which bought something. 2) as a vent for my teenage angst, romance, and idiocy. It was my wall to graffiti on. Still is.
I cannot tell what it is like to be an adult who migrated, since I am 16, but as a teenager who grew up next to it, it is natural, like an arm. The way dolphins probably viewed the ocean prior to all the filth we [homo sapiens (severe irony. sapiens means wise. )] dumped into it.
When and how did you discover science blogs? What are some of your favourites? Have you discovered any new cool science blogs while at the Conference?
I did not discover, I was dragged headfirst into it, kicking and screaming, only to find it a nice place with polite people. I usually keep to Blog around the clock (HI BORA!) and Pharyngula, but every now and then I will trawl for fresh waters. I can’t name all the people who I visited here, but they all have brilliant ideas.
Is there anything that happened at this Conference – a session, something someone said or did or wrote – that will change the way you think about science communication, or something that you will take with you to your studies, art, blog-reading and blog-writing?
Yes. My favorites were discovering that there are adolescents of my mental age blogging, as well as the fact that there are a LOT of people who are great company, all of them as geeky as I am and probably more. That, and it also appears that is not run by one man in a missile silo in colorado.
It was so nice to meet you and thank you for the interview. I hope to see you again next January.
(Christopher Walken voice) And I… shall see you, there. *insert creepy Mr. Burns-esque photo here*
See the 2008 interview series and 2009 series for more.


5 responses to “ScienceOnline’09: Interview with Djordje Jeremic

  1. I loved Djorde! I spent as much time with him (and the other kids from Miss Baker’s class) as I did with adults adn fellow grad students. Great kid. He immediately recognized my from my AAAS entry – dance your phd thesis, “hey, you’re Microtus Shuffle girl”. That was the very first time anyone had ever recognized me and referred to me by my online activities!

  2. I loved Djorde! I spent as much time with him (and the other kids from Miss Baker’s class) as I did with adults adn fellow grad students. Great kid. He immediately recognized my from my AAAS entry – dance your phd thesis, “hey, you’re Microtus Shuffle girl”. That was the very first time anyone had ever recognized me and referred to me by my online activities!

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