Sunday, December 30, 2012

written smitten

Oh no...ive submitted my phd and have found more interesting things I might have written. I'm written smitten.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Creating an ANT research design

This post relates to my ANT informed PhD. This is freely accessible here:

A question posed by Jeffrey Keefer over on the ANT fb page was:

I am wondering if anybody in our group has any experiences to share about creating an ANT research design. How did you create a research proposal or overview in an ANT-way? What challenges or opportunities did you face compared to more "traditional" research designs?
As i was studying change and the use of emergent technologies, i wanted a method that allowed me to look at change as it happened.
I looked at a few approaches: activity theory, grounded theory, and read E M Rogers diffusion of innovation, but made no progress apart from feeling they weren't doing it for me. They were not a match to my question.

After this broad reading my supervisor pointed me in the direction of Callon (1986) and scallops.that seems weird, but if you have read the article you will know it is about change, the introduction of an innovation, and that the actors involved- including the scallops- are discussed in a similar way.
As technology was so embedded within what was happening, a symmetrical analysis became important (both shaped and shaping was a continual theme for me). It was something i identified as missing in how the very human act of counselling was altered with the use of other media, specifically as it evolved with the use of sms text messaging (I did not set out to study sms, when I started multiple media were being attempted, was just that sms grew and grew for a network of reasons, and this network is what was studied).

In looking for more literature on this "new to me field", and to how to study this, my supervisor advised 'staying close to the fire' - to read the authors who were central in developing the tenets of ANT. Reading Aramis (Latour) and The body multiple (Mol) were persuasive for me. They both allowed for a multitude of actors to be involved, and they both approached what was occurring or had occurred with new insights. They both were written in ways "that sparkled". As i have written of here, having a taste of ANT, led me into a new way of seeing - or more accurately from an ANt analysis, a new way of being.

I chose to study change in a format similar to Aramis (Latour) but rather than retrospective it would be a work in progress; how things get loved rather than killed. This also sat well with the early Law stuff on hopeful monsters. And with the bush pump stuff by Mol and de Laet.

However, I also read Mol and with the body multiple my whole trajectory ripped with reality being multiple. How then to be with an entity whose identity was/is unsettled.

I found myself frustrated by descriptive accounts and wanted a 'so what' emphasis. at this stage in my ANT journeying "so what" did not loom large enough for me. I wanted to be world changing. I was still somewhat attached to earlier renditions of myself, of grounded theory making new knowledge or of critical social theory setting the world to right...

The lack of overt politics frustrated me, leading me more to Donna Haraway.
And back to what was described to me as a thinly veiled fictional discussion between Latour and Haraway (Latour,2003).
(There is a subplot here. A network of activities, of people, and of changes occurs simultaneously. tracing a beginning becomes more and more difficult when things dont/wont/cant hold still. An ANt way of being is to be lost in a kalaedescope.

But that doesn't really answer the question as set. How did i create a research design?
I recall that when i would say i would be doing an ANT analysis I was challenged by a senior academic who told me that it would only provide descriptive accounts and that it would be difficult for a thesis because it does not address the "so what" question; no recommendations, no conclusions...

I believed, with faith in my supervisor, that if other ANT researchers could do ANT research, then so could I. Plus I read some ANT blogging by Mejias a student just completing an ANt phd which gave me confidence that an ANt phd by research was possible. I also read Arthur Tatnall's (IJANTTI editor) thesis and an excellent one by Jensen, more similar to the health related field I was in. Later I also read the book produced by Spinuzzi based on his phd study (helped me understand why CHAT was not something i would be accepting. CHAT was also something another professor on my colloquium panel had suggested I should look at, so clarifying why I was "not going there" was important (lack of regard for all the actors, context not being explained, as Latour had said "the social is not a given but requires explaining"...and a lack of a positioned researcher). I also had a look at Inger Mewburn's thesis (of thesiswhisperer fame) as she too had made use of ANT.

Nonetheless early on i was ignorant/ naive. My proposal was about the influence of all actors, and that's why ANT. But the how was problematic. No ethics committee was going to accept that i would just 'follow the actors". So to some extent I had an ethics application written with imagined possibility.

The analysis was also problematic. I eventually decided to tell stories in a similar way to Latour's Aramis, and a bit of Mol's the body multiple.
And a bit of Law's aircraft stories, and more Mol with the logic of care. The writing up of data also being a bit more Law with pinboards and juxtapositioning.
None of which sits very well with a trajectory of a thesis question/argument.
Laws "After method. Mess in social science research" was useful to justify and to search for meaning being made in ways uncommon in theses. And Donna Haraway as well as Patti Lather were useful for my articulating a situated researcher.
But how to analyse a multivocal account from a network with no top nor bottom, led me to Deleuze and Guatterri, but there was still a mismatch with to justify not tracing every step of connection...much much later Law writes of this in regard to Salmon who go places humans cant.

But it been a bit of a struggle. I need markers within the paradigm of ANT. Arguing the "scientification" argument in credible academic studies meets resistance from other academics I know. Some academics, perhaps most academics, are still attached to an objective truth, yet being a situated actor telling stories of "truths' as known to the actors sharing stories with me, was leading to a very subjective analysis. But then I'm arguing that in a situated study it cannot be otherwise. This also provides my argument for not going back to participants for any validification...hows that for a new word!
Again this may not be accepted by some.
Past and present blur in ways that make bringing the past back into a future via the qualitative method of triangulation a suspect practice. There are other alternatives. There are multiple experiences shown as overlapping that provide some degree of substance to the happenings as they occurred.

And in deciding when to stop, again Law provides more useful guidance in his salmon paper...Latour's wry stop when you get to 80000 words or whatever the uni specifies seemed unlikely to be accepted by any academic i know :)

Along the way i developed a new mantra that settled my 'so what' naivety, for the whole point of ANT is political- "things can always also be otherwise". Rich descriptions bring this to light.

But what did i actually propose and how did i get acceptance of it?
I've gone back to my colloquium proposal (at Deakin University this is a 20000 word document pre data collecting that validates the study) and is defended in discussions with a panel. In this i justify a need to consider symmetry. I also provide a story that demonstrated reality as multiple, justifying looking at complexity.
I then presented data on what had changed, and of writers who had studied change noting a gap (technology poorly defined, poorly considered, despite some good sound writing on the complexities involved in change of media) and situated the study as one of change with changing media). Looking at the document now, it is not too bad :)
It did not say how I would analyse or present findings however, and i think this is something done differently with every ANT study, everyone of which is a performance...and i accounted for a performative turn within this proposed study document. I came to love being performative. The thesis as text also came to be presented in multiple ways reflecting my experience of multiple actors....some of whome "talk" very differently. And so i have a phd that includes imagery, text speak, multiple fonts (all of which also created hiccups on crossing mac/pc, word doc and pdf formats).

But more than what I proposed was also a background in networking and aligning. My supervisor was instrumental and a credible ANT person. Being a senior academic others accepted his supervision would provide the rigor required. While my proposal was liberally sprinkled with citations aligning myself within an academic tradition...and just maybe there was/is also something of a Macchiavellin tradition where having enough people/writers on side provides clout in having the proposal accepted.
Albeit with a proviso of crossing that bridge when we come to it of ethics and analysis.

Personally i have found the theory strong, the method of what to do so much harder. There are tenets of things to adhere to for a strong ANt study (see Latour's Reassembling the social) but there's no 'paint by numbers'.

Along the way I had to find other justifications; Mol on how to improve rather than prove was useful. Verran on multiple realities...Lucy Suchman on policy and documents.. Barad on identity.... and so so many more. I found the reading was not all in advance...but was pulled in as and when needed to make sense of what wasn't known as necessary until the data I gathered made it so.

A hugely iterative process.
The why, what's there, bring in data, discuss it, make some conclusions trajectory can be traced in what I produced...but really the thesis is so much more messy than this would suggest. I have a literature that is networked, it provides me a place to stand that differentiates myself and what is studied from some and how and why myself and what is studied fits better with others...
My literature review provided a place to speak from. It situates me, and it situates the research, and is written of here.

ANT is known in the doing, it may not exist in the abstract. A "thing" does not have an essence...but is itself a gathering, a unique performance on every occurrence.
Even were I to study it again, it could not help but occur differently; no-one swims in the same river twice.

Some of my references:
Callon, M. (1986). Some elements of a sociology of translation: domestication of the scallops and the fishermen of St Brieuc Bay. In J. Law (Ed.), Power, action and belief: a new sociology of knowledge? (pp. 196-223). London, England: Routledge.
Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (1987). A thousand plateaus: Capitalism and schizophrenia (B. Massumi, Trans.). London, England: University of Minnesota Press.
Jensen, T. E. (2001). Performing social work. Competence, orderings, spaces and objects (Doctoral dissertation). University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Latour, B. (2003). An imaginary dialogue on modernity. Retrieved January 31, 2006, from
Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the social. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Mejias, U. (2007). Networked proximity: ICTs and the mediation of nearness (Doctoral dissertation). Columbia University, New York, NY. Retrieved from
Mol, A. (2002). The body multiple: Ontology in medical practice. London, England: Duke University Press.
Mol, A. (2006, March). Proving or improving: On health care research as a form of self-reflection. Keynote address presented at the meeting of the 11th Qualitative Health Research Conference, doi:10.1177/1049732305285856
Mol, A. (2008). The logic of care. Health and the problem of patient choice. London, England: Routledge.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Betwixt and between

I've submitted my thesis and have now entered into this surreal space of not knowing what I am. I no longer fit the box. I'm not a PhD student as evidenced by the behaviours of study and writing, and i dont have the credential of PhD.

It is now a week since my PhD submission and yesterday was the first day i did not reopen the it. (This is sounding so much like i have an addiction problem. My name is ailsa and I'm a recovering PhD student...its been two days since i last ...)

8 days before submitting and i wanted to clarify and strengthen part of 'the argument' as to how my thesis had got me to where we had gotten.
(Some will roll their eyes at this but the thesis really did have control of me as much as i had control of it.) My daughter had an essay due in the next day so we have this parallel play type thing going on as we both type away...took me a day to write what i wanted, a page and a half many several times over till i had it clear, and then i lost it...ah such sweet sorrow...but writing it again took me 15 minutes and made one clear paragraph.
A week before submitting:
I was surprized by how calm I was, I kept expecting a mad rush and panic, but actually timing (self imposed deadline) was spot on.
I had met with a formatting person earlier who was cool, calm, collected and knew his stuff. Having booked his time I could move forward in final edits (this was after all the 3rd penultimate rendition!)

Then four days before submitting, still on top of everything, the to do list had no more to dos on it!
The formatting guy would work on fonts and layout, some proofing; there was little else I could do in the interim, i struggled not to fiddle with it

Then I remembered a little more i wanted to add...shouldnt be much bother, I'd warned the formatter, he was cool... so i opened the blackbox of a mobile phone to photograph its innards and prove reassembly was not a possibility... (even now I can see other potentials in this metaphor, but that will be another story for a post doc life).
And that led to a little bit more twiddling with words, that led to page numbering being off....

Still the following day a cool formatting guy... but i now had 2 days left.
A bit of too'ing and thro'ing to get the layout sorted,downloading a font that would be stable across pcs and macs suddenly returned me to the early days of cross platform stressors. In a multivocal account i did not realize how few fonts there were that remained stable. I wanted one that looked like script, and seemed for a brief moment in time i would get stuck with comic sans since bradley script didn't behave...nonetheless 24 hrs later, sorted. I had to settle for not using some pictures on a landscape layout as submitting a single pdf and each lanscape orientation split the document. There also remains one gremlin in the layout, a memory of a split simply would not go away, so with cut and pasting this gremlin
sits in the invisible space at the bottom of a page. And then i could work on yet another cleaning of the endnote library, its squeeky by now...
and wooops, the night before submission it comes back to me and its screwed. The crossover between my university rendition of endnote, and the more recent update used by formatter left double gaps where they shouldn't have been and kept inserting retrieved from despite a doi...also some deleted aspects on a few....something like 80 stuff ups.
I let the formatter guy know later that night but hadn't heard back from him till midday on the day it was due in..and then i needed to be somewhere else, funerals dont go on hold.
I spent 6hrs of the last day itemizing the probs, went to the funeral, an hour and a half later contacted formatting guy who said he fixed it, a 10 minute job.
I think i had expected a panic, and found one, it wasn't essential that i panic, no one would have known my self imposed deadline wasnt met, but i think it's part of my parting behaviours. I seemed to need the adrenaline rush.

I then spent 2 hours searching for more to panic over, the submission process seemed to require an extra form that had me searching internationally for advice regarding digital copyright...but having come to a conclusion on this, i handed in the thesis, and the form wasn't needed at this point- it gets submitted after marking, when the thesis is accepted/passed.

Its a bit of an anticlimax really. It's in...but its not over. I cant really relax, there's trepidation rather than excitement.
I go back looking at it...I have problems aith denial, questioning if its really over, did i hand in the right edition....yes. Did i reference an article i used in that last week, no. But it wasn't cited either. Wish i had...if I had...and I slip into bargaining- if the rest of this is ok, i will be forgiven? If it comes back with mnor corrections, I can fix it. But for now it's too late. And I am the only person who knows it is 99% complete in terms of what i wanted it to be.

And it's also a bit like having a sore tooth, sticking my tongue into it, biting down, sucking air across it, checking if it still hurts.

I've found two more in that very last bit of prose- one word is missing. And one of my references has a slash at the end of an url. No biggie. But the rate of return on polishing gets smaller and smaller for the hours invested, and so again, 99% pretty suffices. I rationalize with myself, intellectualize: tell myself stop looking.

Today I slept the day away, I felt like i could sleep for 6 weeks; writing a thesis is tiring.

And now I wait. One week down. Maybe 9 more to go? The university where I'm enrolled suggests its a 10 week turn around, but I know people (admittedly not this university) where it took a year to hear back. Meantime I wait. Betwixt and between. I dont quite fit in anymore with friends on the phd journey, I visit but I'm in a different space. And I dont quite want to start writing the post doc articles from a space of trepidation. I'm feeling like I've lost my voice, the power is now all out there.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Latour's democratic metaphysics

As Harman (2007) points out,
Latour’s metaphysics is utterly democratic. Atoms and quarks are real actors in the cosmos, but so are Fidel Castro, Houdini, and unicorns. We cannot declare a priori that some actors are more real than others; all we can say is that some are stronger than others. (p. 35)
Ref Harman, G. (2007). The importance of Bruno Latour for philosophy. Cultural Studies Review, 13(1), 31-49.
Image from The Dork Side

Thursday, August 23, 2012

moving toward a post-doc life

This is the synopsis provided in
How to create a journal article from a thesis
Author:Kathy Ahern
Source:Nurse Researcher. 19.4 (July 2012): p21.

Box 2 Steps to producing an article for a journal

* Dozens of references do not necessarily impress an editor unless
these references are relevant to your article and target audience
(Johnson 1992, 1996, Bowen 2010).

* Avoid presenting a summary of the dissertation or thesis (Johnson
1992, Bowen 2010).

* Limit descriptions of informed consent and other ethical issues.
Keep discussions to a concise statement regarding the institutional
review board or ethics committee (Bowen 2010).

* Focus the topic so it addresses the concerns of journal
readership (Johnson 1996, Kekale et al 2009, Bowen 2010, McConnell

* Rewrite and update the literature review (Johnson 1996, Garry
2007). Edit the demographics and methods section. Keep the
literature and theoretical framework to a minimum (Johnson 1996,
Kekale et al 2009, Bowen 2010).

* Identify one dimension or outcome to report (Johnson 1992, Bowen

* Establish a clear topic with a strong opening sentence to entice
the reader into the article. (McConnell 2010). Write a conclusion
that reflects the topic in the title and introduction (McConnell

* Include only the charts and tables needed by the reader to
understand the topic of the paper (Johnson 1992, 1996, Kekale et al

* Incorporate truncated quotes and more summative statements in
qualitative papers (Bowen 2010).

* Emphasise clinical application of the research (Johnson 1992,
1996, Kekale et al 2009, Bowen 2010, McConnell 2010).

* Adhere to journal referencing, style and length requirements
(Johnson 1996, Bowen 2010, McConnell 2010).

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Exploring digital spaces in an ANT like way

Apparently my use of txt spk tells u of so much more of me than i eva intended.

In an ANT world how i am shaped by the technology might tell you more than i intended.

The use of following google trends can apparently demonstrate the flow of flu so much faster than any traditional method according to Rogers of the Digital Methods Initiative in Amsterdam

Google Flu Trends, which uses keyword searches of “flu like symptoms” to locate the spread of the flu (and other diseases) geographically – much faster than traditional epidemiological techniques.

Rogers also argued that we have now entered a new phase in which internet activity need not be studied as something categorically separate from “the real”. The online, rather than the real, is now “the baseline”.

the real phenomenon to be accounted for is not the delineation of one version divorced from the rest of its copies, but the whole assemblage made.

Meantime i will do my bit to look up things using 'u'

Here's a great link to a conference I could only experience because of the digital connections
From Digital Methods to Digital Ontologies: Bruno Latour and Richard Rogers at CSISP

Meantime, some thoughts to ponder, what matters a cv when one's connections can be discerned by ones digital traces?

Thursday, August 02, 2012

What haiku and ANT have in common

What haiku and ANT have in common:
They both aim to tell a story that engages
They aim to tell of threads that cross, of networks made
Both run the risk of a fringe audience
They both fold associated but not yet recognized materiality...there is a sense of disrupting arbitrary notions such as small and big - both being part of a whole
They both allude to how things might be arranged differently

Characteristics of haiku (from

The following are typical of haiku:

A focus on nature.
A "season word" such as "snow" which tells the reader what time of year it is.
A division somewhere in the poem, which focuses first on one thing, than on another. The relationship between these two parts is sometimes surprising.
Instead of saying how a scene makes him or her feel, the poet shows the details that caused that emotion. If the sight of an empty winter sky made the poet feel lonely, describing that sky can give the same feeling to the reader.

This blogpost was brought about by some writers block advice = work on two projects at once, when one gets too hard the other holds more appeal.
So here i am avoiding the thesis task.
Reading and writing about the writing instead.
Here's an excellent site for some writing hacks for the blocked writer by Scott Berkun
His snowflake approach to writing is worth a look too.
I find it oddly settling since Ive had it pointed out on my penultimate draft of my phd that it doesnt seem to follow the genre of a phd...
Apparently these have a trajectory, they find a hole and fill it; they have a trajectory; they provide answers...
Mine instead is described thus (my first book review? vs peer review?)

"You take a very gentle approach - developing your arguments around the literature- although, areas of research/theory are treated one after another, your arguments are not presented linearly as is common in a thesis; instead, they are more iterative and cumulative as the points you make wash over the reader in layers."
and that it sits
"somewhere between a Janette Turner-Hospital novel and a conversation with Yoda ☺"
I'm going to have to read some Janette Turner Hospital, I hope to find she writes wellor at least that I find her readable.

i have no doubt my thesis might be arranged differently.
it is after all its own performance

If only I could write like this:

Void in form

When, just as they are,
White dewdrops gather,
On scarlet maple leaves,
Regard the scarlet beads!

by Ikkyu

And because i am avoiding the opening of another page of feedback that i need to negotiate, I try

A voiding

but all i get to is the first line before
as Berkun suggests...i am driven back to my other hard task while i avoid the hardness of this one...

Saturday, June 23, 2012

why (I'm still) blogging a phd

It puts me into a conversation- with myself and with others.
In many ways its similar to why write but there are some differences also.
I might have journalled: pen to paper... but i choose this medium because of its capacity for more:
1. My blog has the capacity to link- temporally and spatially. Hyperlinking past with present, spanning distance whether local or global, but it also a space where difference and similarity can be accessed at the touch of a button. Its a space for weaving; for networking in a Latourian sense.
2. My blog connects me with people i might never get to converse with otherwise. >I live in New Zealand, travel to conferences is extremely expensive. Blogging democratizes voice somewhat: When i respond to an article and the author of said article comes on my blog to further the conversation i am engaged with a community of thinkers otherwise denied me (see for example For all the reasons espoused by Pat Thomson expands on in her blog of why phd students should be funded to attend conferences
, sometimes blogging is as close as i can get.
Blogging expands my literacy: A digital literacy in the sense that Lankshear and Knowbel describe in that my engagement mediated here privileges participation over publishing. And a space for relationship- having a place from which to be, to stand and to speak as it were: these are my connections/ this is me. Blogging provides me with Turangawaewae (a NZ Maori word that allows me to claim lineage, and voice, and a right to be heard. My identity is formed here.
3. My blog is a space for thoughtfulness, a playful space where the thoughts of a moment are being spun in the writing. Its the antecedent step to my more academic publishing self.
4. My blog is also a space where my emotional life as an academic can also be held. I have engaged in this space with not only my intellect but with my soul and have found support for vulnerability and compassion and affirmation to be extended. (for example This is about a deliberate endeavour to see and to add to a space for meeting the very human needs of connecting, of love and belonging as well as actualizing
5. Being beyond a textual form it's a space for creative engagement prompting the juxtapositioning of words and text; a space for allegory.
6. And because my phd is about change and the performances associated with emergent technologies, blogging provides an insider experience.

In more concrete and practical applications:
7. Blogging has enabled my co-presenting in an international forum (see for example V
8. It provides me links to otherwise unknown of resources because people here in a blogging world share; its what they do. Expertise and knowledge get held in the connections. A radical shift in how learning might be contained not so much individually but distributed.
9. I believe it was a significant factor in my last promotion- providing novel evidence of impact factor and of scholarship activities. To be cited, i need to be situated and sighted, and being cited is a power base in academia.

An addition:
It was also a space for finding my own voice.
In followinn in my child's footsteps i treated it as a fanfiction/fanfact space. Here i wrote as if writing a further chapter for Sherry Turkle's book Evocative objects; Things we think with.

Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2007). Researching new literacies: Web 2.0 practices and insider perspectives. E-Learning and Digital Media, 4(3), 224-240. Retrieved from doi:10.2304/elea.2007.4.3.224
Latour, B. (2011). Networks, societies, spheres: Reflections of an actor-network theorist. International Journal of Communication, 5, 796-810.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Embodied knowledge; or how I took a taste of ANT and then it swallowed me

This is a story reminiscent of Roald Dahl's James and the Giant which a small boy, a peach and insects are transformed in a world of wonder; one in which new reals get made.

Early on in my PhD I had thought the making of 'new knowledge' might involve the putting together of "this with that" as a form of academic alchemy, but then discovered this into that would not go.
The learning of irreconcilable differences involved trialling various theories on change with ANT. My supervisor was amazingly tolerant as i learned that such combinations led to irreconcilable differences between theories that clashed. I am grateful i was able to learn this and not told to simply not go there.
I attempted a reading of Diffusion of innovation with E M Rogers but the lineal assumptions didn't sit right. Nor did Schon, Lewin, Schein and this became a literature review.
I also tried some methodological assistance with phenomenology via Max Van Mannen but the essentialism was incompatible. I had some prior experience with critical social theory via Habermas, but the metanarrative and thinking i would know better than participants clashed with ANT. As did grounded theory...
I tasted ANT (actor-network theory) as a curiosity to be entertained...and then it swallowed me whole 8-)

This theory is not about perspectives. Were I to sit and view from any of the participants in my study what was going on, the experience is lived differently. I can only tell my own story of my engagements with those involved. Partial in every meaning of the word.
Donna Haraway describes the situated knowledge in terms of being inside the belly of the monster.
This is a radical point of difference to those that would attempt analysis via contextualism, such as Schatzki might, for to accept ANT is to accept that there is is no distance. I am consumed.

The embodiment of knowledge is also addresssed by Anne-marie Mol in the deceptively simply titled article: I eat an apple.

Haraway, D. (1992). The promises of monsters. A regenerated politics for inapprpriate/d others. In L. Grossberg, G. Nelson, & P. Treichler (Eds.), Cultural Studies (pp. 295-337). New York, NY: Routledge.

Mol, A. (2008). I eat an apple. On theorizing subjectivities. Subjectivity, 22, 28-37. Retrieved from

Schatzki, T. R. (2002). The site of the social: A philosophical account of the constitution of social life and change. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

The difference between quantitative and qualitative research

Forever there seems to be a debate about the two and I am gob smacked by having a discussion with a positivist who seemed to think there is but one scientific method. So here's a provocation on how different the realities might be.

Here's one consideration of global warming demonstrated through the use of people's lived experiences as data as well as a visual ethnographic provocation to thoughtfulness.

It's an idiosyncratic representation.

In contrast here's how it is represented by the more positivist quantitative researchers:
This article points to the multiple research centres and claims "all" show that the Global surface temperature increased by 0.74 ± 0.18 °C (1.33 ± 0.32 °F) during the 100 years ending in 2005. Most conspicuously, according to the latest IPCC report the global surface temperature will likely to rise a further 1.1 to 6.4 °C (2.0 to 11.5 °F) during the twenty-first century.

Whose data is then backed up by multiple references to all the scientists of numerous countries, where repeated data provides validation. See

This cheeky little posting is not to be taken too seriously.
Global warming might be.

How data is presented is very much a function of the ontological politics at play with beliefs held that extend as fas as whether the use of 'I' and open acknowledgement of a situated researcher  has a place in formal writing. Please, I would like to put an end to the positivist belief of claiming objectivity. The question studies and the method of study are saturated with bias.

There are differences in the approaches that allow for the answering of different questions.

Qualitative research deals fundamentally in qualities: in experiences. This type of research is interested in how things are experienced. A core consideration is that the researcher experiences are also involved in what was studied; the how of this through to what is written, how it is written,  and what is and isn't written or disseminated. The experience of qualitative research is imbued with epistemologies of how knowledge is made and what counts as knowledge. Every person's experience is as valid as anothers, this severely restrains any claims for generalisations. Reflexivity is expected.

Quantitive research deals fundamentally in quantities; in number crunching, in statistics, and  addressing big data that allows for a probability (p value) index to support claims made.
 Through random sampling and attending to sample size a probability index generates a measure to assess the  level of confidence one might have in the findings of the research and in whether it might then have findings generalised to elsewhere.
A small p-value (typically ≤ 0.05) indicates strong evidence against the null hypothesis, so you reject the null hypothesis.
A large p-value (> 0.05) indicates weak evidence against the null hypothesis, so you fail to reject the null hypothesis.
A core consideration is that this method presents data as objective. There is an assumption of the data as separate to the researcher and so is written of with the absence of 'I' statements.

Obviously the two with their different epistemologies are difficult to reconcile. None the less, many people do with a "mixed-methods" approach. The clashing of philosophical underpinnings being subsumed with the value supposed from answering a question or issue from both the small scale of local experience as well as from the larger picture.

This link takes you to a slideshare where I have considered an area of interest (adverse events in the health sector) and considered how it might be studied in regard to these research methods. The slideshare was developed for a class I was teaching in called Methods of Research enquiry for undergraduate students from a variety of disciplines in a Health Faculty. The students needed to undertake a project as a group where they investigate a topic, consider the gaps in the literature and propose 2 research development plans, one qualitative, one quantitative.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Phd anxiety: Perhaps your anxiety is of a form specific to magicians...

Seth Godin's blog has a provocation: "Perhaps your anxiety is specific to magicians" He found the quote in a strangely-translated instruction manual for an obscure but beautiful trick. But, as he notes, it has wide applicability. Perhaps your/my anxiety is specific to phd students and a fear of being judged and found wanting. perhaps its a similar one to magicians, the tricks arent new enough, the performance not exciting enough...these are the stressors of performing or of anyone who has to stand up and stand out and stand for something. Perhaps it is due to the fact that you're trying to control things that you can't possibly control. I cant controll what others will make of my work, I can only make it smooth enough...rough enough...logical enough. Anxiety may be a sign that you care deeply about your work. Now that you've been reminded that you care, the anxiety gets reframed. Its a positive motivation now, not something to be fearful of; not something immobilizing. Write because you have something to say :)

A phd in a haiku. Taming a meandering river

Could you write your phd in a haiku?
Over at dissertation haiku the invitation is to post your dissertation in haiku format
I found this a bit more evocative than the pragmatics of the 160 character text rendition I wrote.
And surprisingly it awakened me to really consider what it is I'm studying. And hence to clarify why it is I keep going off track; its because i have two things (at least) happening simultaneously.

Haiku 1.
Regarding the study:

Enactments of change
Whats thought? whats done?
Reality multiplies

Haiku 2.
Regarding the site of study:

silent and invisible
still i talk, and you listen
whats with that?

A very short form of Japanese poetry typically characterised by three qualities:
The essence of haiku is "cutting" (kiru).
This is often represented by the juxtaposition of two images or ideas
And a kireji or 'cutting word' between them. A kind of verbal punctuation mark signalling the moment of separation and this colours the manner in which the juxtaposed elements are related.
Traditional haiku consist of 17 syllables on
In three phrases of 5, 7, and 5 on respectively.
Any one of the three phrases may end with the kireji.

(Although I have described haiku as based on 17 syllables, this is inaccurate as syllables and on are not the same, but close enough for my purposes)

More joy of text (PhD writing)

There are so many ways to be involved in text that it is a shame to adhere only to prose. I've curated a gallery of my phd journey via Flikr. Today's twitterings on #phdchat introduced another by @londonaesthetik - here's my thesis as pie.

The joys of writing: Other places: Cafes- advantages no ironing! No library shelves to be seduced by, no emails, or internet or skype or twitter to sink into. Combined with a pomodoro, its a kick start ot my writing day. Doesnt actually have to be the creative side of writing, its just as amenable to the editing phases or the reading and putting this into endnote or whatever data management system is being used. Creativity of writing, the phd as haiku, the phd as a tweet, the phd in text speak, and of course there's always blogging. The blog allows a different voice, here mine's more playful, more provocative, less constrained. Sometimes its tangential. But sometimes its writing the tangents that allow me to become clearer. In the thesis I am using multiple fonts for different voices, as well as varied backgrounds behind the words to simulate that a message is received by txt. Ive also a lolcat provocation as one representation in the conclusions. Then there's writing around, not so much progressing the thesis but it's the skype chats, the instant messaging or icq of ideas and provocations to thoughtfulness. Or the writing around that's the annual review (I always think of this as an exercise in creative writing, yet am always surprized by how close to the truth it looks retrospectively). Creativity around the writing. Here there are postit notes, writing on mirrors or ranchsliders instead of whiteboards, Great for rearranging and structuring. There's also bath crayons. And there is always mindmapping the pen and big paper. And proving realities are multiple, there's the reinterpretation of one's writing. Here there are wordles of the thesis, or the infographic that my computer mouse thought i was producing. And there's the flight of imagination where i wish I could just write on the inside of a glass sphere for then it wouldnt matter what comes first last or where in the middle of things ideas should fall. i stop short however of the following creative writing idea.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Ode to a work place taniwha

As always, writing in the genre of scientification might be subject to misinterpretation.
All the characters referred to are fictitious. Realities are of course in the eyes of beholders. And taniwha do not exist.

I'm an assertive person
doesnt mean i wear a t-shirt saying I'm up for target practice.
What it means is that if i am bullied
I will respond assertively.
I will try. I can wish my emotions would be less reactive. I would wish the same of those i work with.

I think there's potential for better workplaces. I would not be an educator if I thought i could not make a difference.
And when troubled emotionally one way of distancing from the trauma is to make use of a coping mechanism, rationalization.
I can rationalize the unpleasantness, I can tell myself its a time for "head" rather than "heart".
"If its been better before, it can be better again."
This means that if it has never been this bad before, chances are it will not stay this awful.
Sadly, research on bullying is not strong in supporting this.

Nonetheless, I'm going to start attempting to make a positive difference, because I care to work in a collegial and supportive way.

The following is based on a composite of experiences, that may help others being traumatised at work:

When I receive emails, being a researcher into the use of text for conveying support, I take notice.
Being a teacher of communication skills this really is my passion.
My psychotherapist might call it rationalization or intellectualization.

When I receive emails that are patronizing I print them. I highlight where improvement might be possible:
"See here, where you wrote "you know very well who..." this is sarcasm and it's not helpful.
I reflect on whether I asked because I seriously did not know.
Similarly when in the email irony was referred to, I note that irony is in the eye of the beholder,and is a very similar construct to sarcasm, beliefs that may be projections on the part of others. Irony as a form of sarcasm is, at a very basic communication level, unhelpful.
Pointing to the ironic or being sarcastic undermines trust.
Both contribute to twisted logics.

As an example: It is not ironic that I ask for financial support for attending a conference when the opportunity is advertised and it is not associated with my having not attended an optional forum irrelevant to my teaching, my research interests, or my research paradigm.
The two issues are not connected.

A further example: when you ask me what is the nature of my illness and what is keeping me "infirmed", you do not have a right to this information. NZ law under the privacy legislation does not require that I discuss this with you.
With decades of experience in being as a health professional, and 50+ years experience of my body and soul; I would be a reasonable judge of when going to work is injurious to my health and such self reflection on my state of being I would take up with my General Practitioner. Being trusted to know my own body and to recognize what injures it and to respond appropriately is part of being adult.
I'd like to work in a place that trusted my self assessment.

More examples: If i ask for something and instead am made to account for something else ... and several "something elses" I feel singled out as I suspect this is not the treatment given to any other staff member when they put in for things such as a funding application. To be told i did not go to a foum, and that this was demonstrating my lack of collegiality, and therefore i should not expect funding are not connected events. Too much is presumed about what collegiality involves, and what other factors coloured attendance.
This is evidence of harassment when no one else has to account for other activities unrelated to the funding request.
And is actually the fodder of personal grievance cases.
I'd like it if as a manager you engaged on task, stay within the scope of what is releevant, or not, to the case in point and to the criteria published on the funding application.

When what seems trivial escalates: A threat to remove a signed off provision of leave and funding agreed to in an annual professional development plan would be a further example.
When feeling threatened, a defensive response is likely. Stay in an intellectualising space. Point to the digital trail, stay emotionally clean in responses, have a trusted friend or union representative advise on any responses in writing.
"When you ask me to provide how this will be covered and you state that you have asked for twice before....but never have, point to an email trace that supports how this was never requested...
Pointing to the threatening or patronizing tone where demands of "you shouldnt have to ask for it again" with caution.
Such threats are harassment, and in this instance meets judicial measures of harassment and bullying because it demonstrates discriminatory practice.

When a situation escalates I believe it polite to let someone know that i will address it with the next level up as resolution is needed. Note the positive tone here.
You may have a workplace policy that suggests this is the expected means for resolution.
Being clear in my communications I inform the person of this out of politeness on my part and as a request for resolution.

Karpman's triangle A victim and persecutor can be made to play over again and again.
I teach students about Karpman's triangle, here's some suggestions for interrupting this game:

Recognize the game.
Choose not to play.
Remove yourself from the situation.
Acknowledge what is said with active listening skills. Note: this is different to agreeing, it lets the other person know they have been heard.
Accept that one can only change oneself not the other, however stay engaged for the dynamics change when one's own ways of relating change.
Use assertiveness skills, start with I statements.
When this does not work, and the situation escalates, ask to speak to your manager's manager. Include your manager's manager in emails.
However, make sure you remain polite, invite early mediation, invite assistance in sorting a problem.
I recommend staying clear of accusations.

Never "stroke" a bully. It is tempting to be extra nice to someone who bullies so that they will not turn on you. Unfortunately this produces a mixed message that positively reinforces bullying behaviour. They become genuinely surprized when their behaviour is challenged because so many people apparently "love them".
Respond early if you think you are being bullied. This establish limits fast, some people really dont know that they are doing anything wrong. Bullying is usually only considered a problem by the bosses boss if it is repeated- something difficult to establish if not recorded. Serial bullying requires a trail that can be audited.
There is isa difference between firm management and bullying. One stays on task, does not belittle, and treats people fairly, the other does not.

As an educator I just have to believe I can make a difference and so I invest in teaching a manager how to do their job better also.
For example I tell myself:
"I think you have potential, I do believe that people can change.
I intend working with you on this.
Thankyou for being gracious enough to concede that you were being terse, loud, abrupt (substitute in here any acknowledgement they have made (if they have made one).
What I might say to the person is
"I appreciate that you are frustrated, and i appreciate your honesty in saying that you find my attitude and behaviour frustrating.
The problem that I see is that we need better relating skills"

between us

The subtext is I'm working on my communication skills. I'd like it if you worked on yours.

This draws on assertiveness skills:
When "this" happens, I feel "frustrated".
When a decision is made to cancel a course, and then have it reinstated but with no staff to run it (because they were made redundant), that would leave me less able to perform my current workload. I planned my course work to allow for time to write, to meet the goals set by this institution. To be redirected denies me an opportunity that I planned for, it denies me successful completion of commitments regarding research outputs and so would also deny me the potential measures that promotion rounds are reliant on.

When yelled at in front of colleagues, and this can also be heard by others three rooms and more than 25 feet away, this is unacceptable.
And then ask for the behaviour wanted: i" would appreciate it if you did not shout at myself or others."

When taken a deteriorated relationship in the workplace to mediation, sustain the positive intent:
Thankyou for taking the time to set up a meeting with HR to address this.
I would be more than happy to have your inline manager present as well.
I am happy to meet with you at a time convenient with my support person/union representative/ whanau/ lawyer...

Prior to any such meeting, talk with your support person. Take advantage of any EAP (employment assistance program) where it is available.
One EAP counsellor i spoke with said, "clarify the purpose of any such meeting, plan for what you expect, clarify what the meeting is for, think about what you will do if it changes into something else pointing out that that was not what was agreed to and that you need to take further counsel if it has turned into, for example, a performance review or disciplinary hearing without your knowledge.
Politely ask for another date to be set, and leave.
Get counselling, get a medical certificate, get your resilience up, get union advice, take legal counsel if needed.

Best inaugral speech i ever heard was by the previous Dean of my faculty; when you swim with sharks, don't bleed.
I've stopped bleeding.

Bullying: Bullying is ongoing unreasonable behaviour which is often intended to humiliate or undermine the recipient but is not specifically unlawful.(

If you are not sure if you are over reacting, bringing it on yourself, or are working with a bully consider if you experience the following:
Belittling opinions or constant criticism
Yelling or screaming or offensive language
Derogatory, demeaning or inappropriate comments
Overwork, unnecessary pressure and unreasonable deadlines
An unacceptably aggressive style from a superior
Constant nit-picking, fault-finding and criticism of a trivial nature
A constant refusal to acknowledge you and your contributions and achievements
Constant attempts to undermine you and your position, status, worth, value and potential
Belittling, demeaning and patronizing you, especially in front of others
Humiliating, shouting at and threatening you, often in front of others
Setting unrealistic goals and frequently changing goals
Twisting, distorting and misrepresenting what you say or do

Further reading: Paul T. P. Wong, 2006, How to humanize higher education and reduce human suffering

Further advice:
Do make use of your employers commitment to your good health, make use of counselling. In NZ this may involve EAP (employee assistance programme) counselling.
When entering into a management set ask the intention and expectations.
Model civility.
Use the words that invite participation: curiousity, try to avoid resistance and defensiveness.
If it in anyway turns into a disciplinary case. EXIT. Give notice that that was not what you had prepared for.
Personally i would not enter any ambiguous meeting with HR present that suggests my behaviour is on the table without Union support or a lawyer.
Ensure you take hard evidence that supports what you believe the meeting needs to address.
Ensure you are clear of what you are expecting to have addressed.
Make sure any minute taker documents what you want documented.
Such as acknowledgement of practice to be improved upon. And how this will be shown.
If you have asked for things (that your workplace may be required to supply on request) such as workloads, ask when will be provided.
And if you have not got what you wanted ask for an external mediator.

Taniwha: Beliefs in the existence of taniwha in "modern times" suggest their a potential for controversy where development and infrastructure schemes might be blocked.
"Māori academic Dr Ranginui Walker, in a detailed letter to the Waikato Times, said that in the modern age a taniwha was the manifestation of a coping mechanism for some Māori. It did not mean there actually was a creature lurking in the water, it was just their way of indicating they were troubled by some incident or event." (Wikipedia)

Regarding the taniwha image: Ureia, guardian taniwha (sea creature), depicted in a carved poupou (house post) from the interior of Hotunui, a carved meeting house of the Ngati Maru people, Thames, New Zealand. This house was built in 1878 by Ngati Awa carvers from Whakatane, as a wedding present when a woman of their tribe married a Ngati Maru leader. The house is now in the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
Photo by uploader, 20 May 2006, no rights reserved. Kahuroa 18:55, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

An afterword.
Latour's dynamics of science could help to explain such an occurrence, were such an occurrence based in reality.
Note however that, reality is multiple as Mol has taught us. And note especially that in the literature of workplace bullying the perpetrator is unlikely to recognize that what they do is wrong, or that it is bullying....
However back to the dynamics...
Practice and reality are both made in relating, and as my thesis argues, some people's reals get made for better and for worse in such relating.
Changing the actors might change the practice that evolves, but so too might changing the patterns of relating.
Serial bullying is only stopped when it is recognized and documented; this takes courage.
The toxicity of a workplace may require earlier rather than later intervening.
And sadly, sometimes what is role modelled becomes the standard of practice, and standard or norms of practice that are not challenged may even be used in defense of a bully. (For example, a work-place with a lot of swearing).

The hope for a better future is in knowing that our realities are made in our activities, and where our activities can be done differently, our realities can also be made differently.

I would like to tell a victory story, but am instead telling of how to interrupt, how to alter. This is not of win or lose.
Troubling, telling stories are not bound by niceness. This particular "ache of wings” (a phrase borrowed from Patti Lather) wrestles with how to tell of what's not so pretty...but there is also, always, hope.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

When we surf, what surfaces: "Turn arounds" in teaching and learning in online spaces

Ive been enjoying the challenge of engaging internationally through the networked learning conference pre conference nings.

There's's a nice link above (i have yet to watch it...such trust on my part...but its here so i have ease of access later ) associated with the video is Alan Levine's turn around on "what surfaces when we go online"
==>so when we surf, what surfaces.

What has surfaced for me:
Lankshear and Knowbel on digital literaces ask for consideration of the values that shift when the activities of learning shift with a read and write web ( means of production of knowledge shifts).

My own use of email and #nlc that created its own turnaround on doctorial consortium organisation

Some firming up of some of my own nascent beliefs on teaching and learning:
Here's an excerpt from the paper i will be presenting:

Fox (2002) identifies learning as something that happens naturally, incidentally, pervasively & situated within everyday life yet much of our theorizing of learning develops in institutionalized settings. The result is a privileging of practice as it occurs in the formal education sector over the informal and the privileging knowledge of networked learning that involves particular groups of people, and the ways these people relate. To use the eloquent words of Fenwick and Edwards (2010) and with acknowledgement to Pickering (1993) this concurrently risks effacing the fascinating mangling of context that generates particular practices that do not fit the picture of formal educational settings. Researching networks in the wild contributes in redressing this imbalance.

And scary surfacing is do i put it in a post doc paper, or add it to the thesis that is too long ...
and also, now i contend with digital traces and potentials of accusations of plagiarizing myself or resubmitting what i have written elsewhere i also go through contortions of altering what i leave behind in this space.

And in answer to Jeffrey's twitter question about where nlc leaves me; not confused :)
A little more confidence in my understandings of learning and teaching whether online or otherwise.
And regarding identity: more confidant in my readings of Latour (hybrids), de Beauvoir (women being made not born) Haraway (cyborg) and Foucault
More confidant in myself as created in association and in my associations.
Empowered even.
But i am aware that this remains a contentious way of being in the world for many.

Note also the imagery and a Tsunamis identity:
Great Wave off the Coast of Kanagawa, by Hokusai, a famous late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Japanese artist. Part of The Thirty-Six Views of Fuji series (1823-29), this print, although often used a graphic in tsunami literature, is somewhat misleading in that context because tsunamis do not always manifest themselves as the huge breaking waves depicted in the print.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Reflections on progressing doctoral work as a work in progress

This blog post was precipitated by responses i made over on silence and voice on Jeffrey Keefers blog.
The void in form is a beautiful haiku on how we are shaped in association, this blog expand on this further in considering how the phd thesis is extended through associations, particularly via presenting.
(Acknowledging Lennie, I. (2003). Managing metaphorically. In S. Linstead (Ed.), Text/work : representing organization and organizing representation (pp. 41-56). London, England: Routledge.
whose article introduced me to the haiku above)

My first writings to my supervisor came back with an email subject line saying "all good", made me want to open the email :)
This was an unbelievable experience: to have a supervisor with a positive orientation toward the formation of ideas. My previous experience as a student was a supervisor who saw his role as critical and shredding; in the line of what doesnt kill you makes you stronger (this by the way is a patently rubbish approach, even though at the time i thought it was good for me *sigh* ). Has taught me so much about supervision and encouragement.

My first two conferences, really got me nothing beyond my own clarity in writing better, thinking better. feedback zilch.
But still extremely useful as my own clarity was invaluable.

Most conferences treat my subject as a voyeuristic oddity. Slightly annoying but at least tells me my subject is still new knowledge.

My fourth conference provided someone with an opportunity just to pass judgement on young people/peer counselling as suspect. Yes there are some people as just want to make themselves look grand. Didnt work. Looking back it just feeds one of my current conclusions regarding violence against young people and their living in a world lacking in trust and where weaknesses rather than strengths are made larger than life. At the time i thought nothing of it. I presented with a broken foot, all other pain paled into insignificance. I really didnt care much about it at the time, but the niggle is still there. Learning to share: Please do not grandstage at conference presentations.

My third conference, a tiny little one, a seminar would be more accurate, this was more informal and positive, but the methodology (narrative) was sideways to my own, but their interest and encouragement was great, particularly a willingness to entertain that a thesis could contain imagery. I was really unwell at this one, probably undiagnosed swine flu in the days preceding.

An online presentation in a MOOC was grand, shared space with an excellent researcher and thinker Frances Bell. Again what i learned of my own thinking and of shared presentation was probably more important than feedback gained, but this felt like a learning curve on a new area of thinking that i think i will be mulling post doc as well.

My presentation to workplace seminar: I think they wondered on what planet this could be called research. Nothing constructive here except i felt pressured to put actor-network theory into modes of thinking they might recognize as valid such as discourse analysis or psychoanalytical thinking. Retrospectively this taught me of how pressured we are to make sociological excuses for doing sociology. Taught me to stay true to form.

A three minute thesis competition precipitated me into thinking conclusions, useful as I changed gear in my thinking, even though those conclusions are less important than the ones i have now.

Presentation back to my site of study. Really good opportunity to share findings, had learned from previous presentations, these people didnt get side tracked with the voyeurism. They precipitated their own "so what" ways of thinking on what was shared. the heart and purpose of an ANT analysis though i dont think i recognized this at the time. I was surprizingly nervous on this one. I knew they knew if i would be talking sense or not.

Presentations on work in progress to own phd group always invaluable= Feel the support. These people experience the journey and speak with heart. This also helped with reframing of what felt like wicked problems that got me past periods of crisis.

I am looking forward to my next conference; again topic a bit sideways, more of a teaching learning focus; but at least method might be understood. Am looking forward to what others do using the method also as this is a rarity for me.
I have also never been to a conference with a doctoral consortium before or with people i have 'met online' but not in real life.

Other challenges to my thinking included some chapter writing and text book and journal editing. Again useful in clarifying the thinking. Occassionally distracting, a sideways movement to my thesis writing but linked. Problem has been when i know i have written it but word searching the thesis doesnt find it...because it was elsewhere. Some of this i still wonder about shifting across but word counts make this difficult. Other option is to cite myself :)

Ive also playfully presented what i am studying using other media just to see how it shifts the thoughts; haiku, the twitter 140 word challenge, plain language statements...
My biggest challenge has been a research question that writhes. which part of this monster do i elect to stay with., how to tame it into a jar of 1000,000 words.
During phases of my writing i have blogged for feedback, but actually this is more often a repository of thoughts as they coagulate. However, its also been a space where others have sometimes engaged with me. There are authors who respond when mentioned, who are happy to expand their own thinking as well as that of others in this joyous thinking exercise... an Ive had moments of stained glass and sunshine in blogging where I engaged with Prof Tom Baker, replicating the classic Rollo May/ Carl Rogers argument on goodness/badness.
His response of Fur Elise brought tears to my eyes. Writing this thesis has been breathtaking at times. truly honouring. now to finish it. honouring all those that have helped it on its way.

What have been your experiences of what progressed your Phd in presenting your work to others?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

keeping "in touch" with a mobile phone

aww shucks, whispering sweet nothings really is possible on a sensory level. Fabian Hemmert has prototypes developed. Where to sex?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Me and my significant other (PhD)

Spicing up my relationship with my thesis
OK you dont want to do the research i did to get here, googling this is seedy. But here's the list i managed:

Make a date
Do it somewhere else (cafe writing)
Focus on what brought you together, reminisce on the highlights
Dont focus on the big O... make the journey pleasurable
Get a book about new positions... (read as new ways to approach that chapter)
Have time alone and time together (will i ever come back if i spend time alone)
Dont come to it tired
Experiment: clothe it differently - talk/write in a different voice, role play...
Fantasize the future; practice introducing yourself as Dr....plan a honeymoon .... the graduation party... play dressups Find out what your regalia will be, imagine self appropriately attired.

Ok, none of those quite did it for me (today)
So its PhD tough love time:
set the parameters
check in every day
make a compulsory 20 mins together with no distraction commitment

Please, keep it seemly, but if you have further suggestions, please add them here, i need them.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

analysis paralysis or lost on the dark side of the moon

Its not totally incapacitating, i can analyze my results, my problem is what to spend time analyzing, what to put in, what to take out.
The data i collected reminds me of a prism that defracts white light into pretty much infinite layers of colour. One path in into this but many multitude of paths out...which i attend to? Which are pretty, shortest route, best journey, best companions... distracting, lead nowhere, are already well travelled?

I wasnt expecting this.
The research process says formulate the question, do the data capture, immerse in the data and the answers fall out.
Yeah, right.

And then i went a bit postmodern, whose answers matter? Whose answers matter most?
I tell myself in my sternest voice: Take a punt, its certification you want, and not in the sense of a being certified.
But I'm still stuck, I've written several concluding segments, and there could be many more, but a word count doesn't allow for all of these, so just choose!

But which one! i am behaving like a recalcitrant child, too many lollies in th elolly shop...but thats not it either. If i choose a 'wrong' lolly it doesnt matter, theres not several years hanging on it.

And i tell myself, just answer the question ...but i'm back on a mobius strip, the question turns.

So im lost in space, somewhere on the dark side of the moon, best i can come up with is make the choices, justify them, and leave the other data to my post doc life...

Taking further advice from astrobites

I now know how i got here.
I started a phd with what felt like unlimited words and close to unlimited potential.
I had a question, i folded it in half and in half and in half again, each time i narrowed it down, and i wrote to each aspect narrowing it further, coming closer to a point of completion, but this method is never ending, and apparently it has a name:

“Zeno’s Paper,” that twist on the well-known Greek paradox that states that first you write half of the paper, then you write half of what’s left, then half of that, and so on. You are spoiled for choice as to where to end your paper, and without a clear place to stop or an external pressure such as an obvious threat of being scooped, your brain can’t pick where to put it down and call it done.
Analysis paralysis is a serious threat, and one that can ensnare anyone. Any situation that presents a large number of options with no clearly superior choice can cause it, and it can lead to getting scooped, not publishing anything, or, in the worst case, inability to complete a thesis.

So what to do:
write the possibilities,
make a list,
delete at least half the list,
remind oneself that one only has to overwhelm the small space, a phd is not about everything on a topic
Then slash the list:
Write your question, possibly write a smaller question, or even a new question and justify the shift,
Colour code the options for importance, for relevance,
Allocate the ones on the list that are important but not to be addressed here,
allocate the proportion of words allowed
allocate the mumber of days left
work to the plan

And here's where i got another insight, i never work to the plan, i work to the contingent relationships...
whats topical, whats addressing the question (the new question) those involved...and inside of a time frame and a word limit...

It will never address everything, nor everything perfectly, it is but one enactment out of many possibilities.

So i understand my predicament a bit better, i'm not spinning anymore, but i notice im still here, not there...
Black and blue
And who knows which is which and who is who.
Up and down.
But in the end it's only round and round.

"There is no dark side of the moon really. Matter of fact it's all dark."
Not a pessimist really: just over being postmodern.

And so i tell myself yet again, the question doesnt get answered, i write this in my thesis, might as well give the ammunition to the other side...or enter the dark side of thesis writing...
I write the question wasnt bad.
I writie this research surprises me. I set out to investigate how technology was shaping counselling, and shaping us. I end with how we should treat our young better.

This is not because I have a bad question. It is not because I am unable to maintain a focus. Instead, in staying close to how we relate with our technologies I have learned more of how people relate not only with their technologies, but with each other.

In investigating the relationship between what people think about change and what they do to enact it, I have studied how practice changes by talking with, working with, and followed actors involved in their working lives at Youthline. A short answer to this question would be that the relationship is complex. Individuals both do and don’t effect change, and they do this both deliberately and incidentally, and that change happens whether or not there is awareness of what is occurring.

Such an answer is not useful as practical guidance for implementing change in any organization. No advice is given as to how others might implement text counselling in another situation. No list of recommendations forthcoming. The question was ambitious, but it was not too big. There is no answer because the question does not end. Instead a challenge evolves. For there is an answer of sorts: change is shown as being constituted in relationships. What we think and do are deeply embedded in relationships, constituted as well as constitutive.

Accepting that change is constituted in relating, how we might then care to relate is the ongoing matter of concern.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Wishing for the cloths of heaven to end a thesis

My problem: in an ANT analysis finding a way forward when the knowledge known is always partial; fractional and biased.
I too am situated so how to tell of what to do?
In addition the world keeps spinning and what is advised will be more outdated then than even it is now.
What recommendations would i make?

"I have no comfortable knowing of what will be. Moving forward responsibly is to know that what is done, is done on imprecise knowledge. There is no comfort to be had, wrapped in the surety of any cloth of heaven, but to tread lightly(footnote to poem). Care, rather than the illusion of movements predicated on the logical choice of a rational chooser, provides a relational stance on which to move forward. And to move forward carefully, mindful that one’s own reality is not the only one there is."

He wishes for the cloths of heaven, William Butler Yeats

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

And because my thesis is about how we are mediated by text, here is a translation of this poem into txtspk:

HAD I d hevNs' embroiderd cloths
Nrort w goldN & silvR lite
d blu & d dim & d drk cloths
Of nyt & lite & d half-lite
I wud spred d cloths undR yor fEt
bt I, bn poor, hav only my dreams
I hav spred my dreams undR yor fEt
Tred softly cuz U tred on my dreams

Monday, January 30, 2012

How to end a thesis

With a full stop, you get to your 85000 words says Bruno Latour and you put a full stop at it.
A good thesis is a finished one.

mmmm dont think the academy is quite ready for that, but there is a surprizing lack of detail of how to end a thesis. At least there is in regard to completed ones. Lots of advice I have on how to walk away from one, which i am thankful is not my need.
(But of these my favourite is in the movie The Big Chill, Where William Hurt says as Nick: "I could have. I chose not to. I'm not hung up on this completion thing."

And there is a beautiful cartoon by leunig on letting go

And instead of finishing it and then letting go, i have , perhaps, procrastinated in looking at famous last lines:
Frankly my dear I dont give a damn.
( Not quite the last line, Rhett's last words to Tara in Gone with the Wind. )
(But I do give a damn so this one's not realy for me)

‘I leave this manuscript, I do not know for whom; I no longer know what it is about: stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus.’ From Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose
(now this is another reason i want to end the thesis, this has been on my reading list for a while).

Oscar Wilde's life ended with
"My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go.”
(and i include this because so much house maintenance has been neglected)

And from tips on writing dissertations and thesis I get;
La Bégueule (1772); The perfect is the enemy of the good
(the primary goal being to get a Ph.D. , not apparently to change the world, or get a booker prize for writing)

And then I turned to my favourite authors in the research i have undertaken, predominantly those of Actor-network theory to look for their closing words.
(particularly because telling the story is a performance in its own right)

Annmarie Mol in The Logic of care:
So let us care instead. The world - or so the logic of care reminds us - is not something we may look at and judge from the outside. Instead, we are caught up and participate in it, body and all. Chronically, until the day we die.

Bruno Latour in Pandora's hope:
To retrieve the Hope that is lodged there, at the bottom, we need a new and rather convoluted contrivance. I have had a go at it. maybe we will succeed with next attempt.
(truly ascerbic wit. But no, I'm not planning on writing another one of these)

John Law in After method. Mess in social science research
We need quite other metaphors for imagining our worlds and our responsibilities to those worlds...Forms of crafting. Processes of weaving...Metaphors for the stutter and the stop. Metaphors for quiet and more generous versions of method.

Bruno Latour in Reassembling the social
Is it absurd to want to retool our disciplines to become sensitive again to the noise they make and to try to find a place them?

Bruno Latour in Aramis
The last words from the Professor, rather than the last words of the book)
...Listen to him, he's learnt nothing. But in five years i'll come along and study it for you, your Prometheus...they'll be asking me for another postmortem study..."

Annemarie Mol in The body multiple
This study does not try to chase away doubt but seeks instead to raise it. Without a final conclusion one may still be partial: open endings do not imply immobilization.

Sherry Turkle in Evocative objects
Our theories tell us stories about our lives. As we begin to live with objects that challenge the boundaries between the born and created and between humans and everything else, we will need to tell ourselves different stories.

And from other thesis I have read:
From Ingrid Mewburn (of thesiswhisperer blog fame)
However this ANT turn does ask us to be more responsive and attentive to what is going on as we act: if we are ‘doing reals’ we are also ‘doing goods’ – or ‘doing bads’. But I think it’s worthwhile to pursue understanding design studios this way because it means there’s enormous potential here for those who want to make change because, as John Law puts it, ‘reality is not destiny'

From Ray Meldrum, who finishes his citing Dreyfuss on design for people saying:
His final words are telling:
Perhaps A.A. Milne was really addressing us rather than children when he wrote: ‘Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of this head, behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way to come down stairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way, if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it.’ (p.230)
Stopping the bumping and exploring another way to come down (or go up) neatly describes the becoming of this thesis.

From Patricia Thomson (of patter blog fame)
"Doing justice' is about everyday acts that add up, in the end, to making some difference. That is what this story says.
What this story cannot say is...
It cannot say how it is that ....
It cannot say what it is that schools and social policy might need to to do in order to 'do justice'.
That story requires more in the telling than a literary turn. What is needed to tell that story is a sociology of education that is unafraid of the economic, unafraid to put not only policy and difference but also the class back in the classroom.
it is to that project that I perhaps can claim to have made some contribution.

So what I have learned? (About finishing, that is)
1. first you have to not want to be attached to the thesis any more. It took me ages to get to this, but tired of having my summers in the company of my laptop. And I tired of a front door that needs painting, and a garden that resorts to the judicial use of poison rather than gardening...and so it goes on .... there are after all many other things to do with a life.
2. it really helps if you stay on topic, even if the path taken meandered, it really does look better to come from there to here with a trajectory explained.
3. eloquence, clarity, and conviction, matter to a reader

AND dont ask. No its not finished yet!

But if you want to add your fav finishing lines, please feel free :)