Wednesday, April 20, 2011

phd procatsination: lolcat tells it like it iz

Here is my lolcat thesis conclusion

And here's the story of my progress on the thesis, though the lolcats here are not my own, my story resonates with what is told in these pictures.
I am all over the place but dont know it
The topic is teaching issues of heart and soul using IT (information technologies)
And Im searching for a place to hang it,
I settle on a uni, one outside of NZ, write a proposal, thats all over the place, huge, but enthusiastic.
I get a supervisor appointed and we establish some shared interests , we both like Macs, we both read some of the same people, we both know some of the same people (NZers are known for only having 2-3 degrees of separation)
I read for a year. I get used to endnote. It does not get used to me.
I get familiar with technology. Some of it gets familiar right back. (i find i get adverts tailor made to my searchings...i get stalked by cyberbots and cheap marketeers on my blog...and just now there's an option for turning the blog into a book...dont think the coherence would stack up for the markers, but its a thought...)

I'm on bebo, facebook, twitter...
I write a plan, annually i repeat this step in creative writing, I tell myself it doesnt matter, its a fiction. Ignore the timelines, but oddly, retrospectively, and with no intention at all, I see they are actually reasonably accurate.
I write a colloquium document,20,000 words.
I write through writers blocks about whats blocking me establishing the need for the research, scoping relevant literature and a research method and demonstrate knowledge of the ethics involved. I have tentatively approached one of the three places i wish to undertake the research. I want to compare and contrast them.
At my verbal colloquium (two profs, two academics,three internal to the uni one external) it is put to me that it is to big. I argue it is the contrast Im interested in, they suggest again we might rework this as i progress.
I keep reading, I attempt the multiple ethics applications, multi layered,internationally, and come to a grinding halt. Its too big. argggghhhh
My supervisor talks me through options, i dont see the wood for the trees. I'm so glad he can. I recall a conversation about which of these is the 'cure for cancer' and where do i want to be positioned into the future.
I make a choice to study change and a voluntary organisations use of emergent technologies.
Knocking it back to one site of study i do an ethics application that is still huge, still multi layered but only involves one site. Phew. And then i do it again for a NZ ethics committee. Its huge, its persoanl, private, involves children, involves children without parental permission, it involves artefacts where consent was not explicitly sought. Only alarm bells not hit are working with human remains, radioactivity or genetic modification.
All this fussing over...text messaging...

Bilingual thesis?
I read and read and write and write and data collect, exciting times, intellectually.
Socially i suspect i become more of a one track conversationalist. I'm glad i have friends similarly narrow minded. We take turns in talking our narrow fields.
And here's where i stay for a long time, there's a lot to read, a lot to write, and im waiting on getting a 360 ish data collect with particularly ethereal research participants to come forward. They eventually do.
Meantime I now have a multi levelled tangled mountain of threads of data to work out what to do...
Tangled mess of data.

I tease out threads, I read, i tease out threads and read and write, and find some ways through and into to sort this knotted mess of tangled thoughts and observations and everything.
Putting the world into words is not easy. I blog bits of this.
I write of some of the threads followed, and i find literature that similarly writes of such messes.
I have lost my soul to this tangle

The writing progresses. I have an intro. I have a perfunctory and boring lit review.
I have a research method. I have data. I come back to the boring lit. I rewrite and rewrite. I eventually find an article that helps rewrite this so i hate it less. I do wish that writer had written that article earlier, but if he had i suspect i still would not have recognized its value... the rewriting puts a new spin on the latter stuff, i rewrite the latter stuff... finally the process feels iterative. Ive heard its meant to be and am now feeling a bit more confident that I'm doing something that works, something others describe as normal.
Im less pushed around by what i fall over, Im less reactive to whats possible.
I have more control on my world.

I have a clearing sense of what it is thats new, of what i did and why, of how i did it and can justify this. I wish these writers i love would stop writing, i havent yet got to the top of the literature mountain and there is stuff i would like to read more slowly, stuff i would like to read again. But i need to write, there is a timeline.
I am becoming discriminatory in what i have time for and what id do not. I thought i had this before, but now its much more decisive.Im getting a bit OCD, But Ive got it sorted.

I write too much, There is a word limit and i can see i am going to go over it. I work at killing my darlings,
the words so carefully crafted. Iteratively i recheck whats before so that whats left out no longer matters. There is a blurring. the document writhes as i try to recall whats in whats out, i know ive written stuff but where...i try to keep an unruly pack of cards stacked and fantasize handing in a snowglobe of paper where order doesnt matter.
But then i realize its just about folding the world differently.

World making is what it is.
I keep writing.
I have about a tenth more of methodology to do, about a tenth more of data to be played with
And then conclusions, about three i think, short snappy one...reality i have learned is multiple, and so for my endings.
Meantime i am more sedentry than ever, the brain is active, its had a major workout, so has the soul, meaning of life... the body not so much...

An exercise in worldmaking :)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A thesis in almost plain language

Attempting a plain language summary of my study as suggested in phdchat# and role modelled by @lizith, @OrgMotivation, @martin_eve and @jennacondie,and @claretCarly

Its an interesting assignment, one i have turned to my own ends. Since I am studying the use of change with emergent technologies in a youth counselling centre, and since young people appear to be changing this service from the outside in by using text (SMS) messaging as their preferred means of making contact with the organization, I provide a summary of my thesis in txt spk.

when kidz txt a helpline
wats goin on?
who & wats involvd?
wuld u? culd u? shuld u?
This thesis looks @ changes @
Youthline NZ: a crisis helpline
4 young peeps

Now for the less succinct version, where i try to be clear, but its not quite plain, I'm still attached to certain turns of phrase.
Change and the use of emergent technologies in a NZ youth counselling centre

This research focuses on the relationship between how people think about change and what they do to enact it. This is explored with reference to changing health professional practices where interpersonal interactions are increasingly mediated through computer and communication technologies. In investigating the use of new and emergent technologies for counselling the study traces how the work of counselling is reconfigured, and how relationships of those involved are negotiated.

The site of study is a not-for-profit organisation, Youthline (Auckland, NZ). When this study begins the organization is providing telephone counselling predominantly through its crisis helpline. At the start of this study there is a constant buzz of phones ringing and of counselling conversations occurring. Over the course of this study the phone rooms become almost silent. Youth still have problems, and still seek help, but increasingly this occurs silently. This study investigates what occurs as counselling moves into the silent and small space of short message service (SMS) or text-based mobile phones.

In providing a text-based helpline since December 2004, this organisation becomes a world leader in the practice. There is presently no evidence base for this practice and while this study does not address the effectiveness of such interventions, it does consider factors making the practice more, and less, viable.

The analysis is undertaken within an actor-network sensibility. Actor-network theory (ANT) emphasizes relationships held, dissolving and evolving between actors whether human or otherwise. This study investigates how the actors involved, human and otherwise, are performed in, by, and through their relationships.

Performances of change and the use of text-based counselling are presented as short narratives, slices of practice, telling of contingent relationships. Eliciting these narratives included interviews, artefact analysis and observations of practice, over the course of two years.

The performance of such stories provides partial and decentred ways of knowing. The use of the word partial is deliberate and relates to more than one meaning. The stories do not, and cannot, encompass the whole. In addition, such stories reflect the author’s own partiality. “I” write a text composed of slices, where such slices of stories sometimes sit alongside one another, but which more often intersect and which sometimes clash, reflecting the precarious reality this thesis depicts.

A tangle of constitutive relationships are shown to embed mobile phone use and texting in particular, in young people's daily lives. In analysing the tangle of contingent relations making text counselling more and less viable, the intent was never to prove text counselling as good or bad, but to know the uncertain and revisable nature of text counselling as practiced. Opening up text counselling allows us to see how this practice is shaped and might be shaped otherwise. Specific strategies for strengthening the work of this not-for-profit organisation are then able to be made explicit.

I really would appreciate some feedback on this:
1. Should the txt spk version be the first page of my thesis?
2. Is the longer version clear?
3. Any other feedback also welcomed :)

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Actor-Networking / Artist Networking

I became interested in this art as a result of two presentations given by Bruno Latour, where one of his ppt slides used the artists work. Annoyingly these videos that i had previously linked to, and which ANTHEM had linked to are no longer on the server.One is still accessible here: is

What is also odd is the difficulty i have in tracing how i got to this artist Saraceno this morning, i cant recall the trace of how i got to it, searching my history in firefox doesnt do it. I am left with holes as big as those in the imagery: the gaps in the digital trace of my net surfing as well as wondering how can i be so forgetful when I'm only talking about half an hour.
Odd how ethereal such traces can be.

The artist is Tomas Saraceno. Images on a google search are here

Now to network in my computer clever one to rip it...

Saturday, April 02, 2011

A thesis txt spk: 2b/not 2b?

I'm finding voice, and negotiating whose voices gets heard in the thesis.
Mine own being one part of this.
Since a major component of my thesis has been the take over of a youth counselling network by text, culd i jus txt?

Seth Godin states

"My take: the smaller the screen, the more hurried and less informed the decision ends up being.

Yes, there's more currency, more immediacy, more with-you-right-now-all-the-time and more data being collected. But......

If you're working with a spreadsheet or a thread of correspondence or a set of data, I'm not sure you're doing your best work if you're doing it on an iPhone."


Guess that's why the phd wont be submitted in txt spk

the writing off a medium as less useful for good works is a bit offhand.
And Godin uses twitter himself to point to very short blog postings.
The good works still occur.

But what is useful here is that he has identified consideration for what suits from what does not.
Some digital literacy is called for in such choices.
Lankshear and Knowbel, challenge understandings of literacy and of digital literacy especially:
texts evoke interpretation on all kinds of levels that may only partially be ‘tappable’or ‘accessible’ linguistically...The significance of the new technical stuff largely has to do with how it enables people to build and participate in literacy practices that involve different kinds of values.

An appreciation then of media effects, in what ways are values reshaped?
Leads me to consider questions of power and influence, and to know how technology has influence.

Or to use Kevin Kelly's phrases, its about having consideration for what technology wants.
And then negotiating this.

A first step would be to increase awareness of what technology asks people to do; so I have listened for it. And being informed by Bruno Latour's Actor-network approach, I interview the technologies involved: Have them submit their cvs, ask them about their best practice, do some performance based questioning, and some performance review in observing practice

And following wot apears to b a hostile tkeova,

The thesis i am negotiating wnt b
txt spk

wuld b 2 tight & probly trite