Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Research Reflection

For my Writing and Rhetoric class (on Web 2.0 and Online Activism), I have to write a "Research Reflection". I figured, given the topic matter, that I would post it here. This was the 2nd of two required courses. The first one focused on writing. This one focused on giving presentations. Woohoo.

As my topic, I wanted to address neurodiversity - autistic activism on the web. My hypothesis started as "The Internet has Changed the Nature of the Conversation on Autism."

It was difficult trying to fit *my* process in with the class process. I tend to read a lot of stuff, let things percolate in my head for a while, start writing, then figure out what I'm trying to say. I think with my fingers. The class required us to do a research "proposal" presentation first - which required me to *almost* write the presentation/paper but not quite. And we had to submit it to our "peers" to discuss it beforehand and get feedback. Then we had to start on our draft, so we could submit a draft of our "research based argument" (an 8-page paper) with an outline, first to our "peers" and then to the instructor. But FIRST, on MONDAY, we had to sit thru a weird exercise to "help us define our thesis statement". Then we had to create the presentation. Then we had to present it in "rehearsal". Then we got to *finally* present the damn thing.

All of this stuff is probably a very useful process for someone (say, an 19 year-old who'd never created a presentation in their short lives) but for me, it really felt like it short-circuited my own internal/external process. It was like getting in a car, and revving it up, then turnign it off, starting again and driving a block, turning around and going home, again and again, until I was finally able, in fits and starts to get to the presentation.

I'm not blaming the teacher, mind you. This is the process they're supposed to teach us. She was very patient with my sometimes obstreperous reaction to the whole thing.

It also seemed really odd to have to create the written paper and then create a presentation based on the written paper, but wait! the paper isn't due until... and is the paper a script or a paper on its own? Because the kinds of evidence to even put *into* a presentation and the kind of *flow* for a presentation are so totally different. It's hard to think about them at the same time without feeling like I was interfering with both.

All in all, I'm glad I survived the course and that it's over with.

Oh - I'm supposed to "consider how my understanding of the relationship between form and content has developed throughout the quarter." It hasn't. Well, I did learn how to embed YouTube videos (the *right way*) into a keynote slide, with editing and everything. That was kinda fun. Even wrote up a "how-to" for the kids in class - hope it was helpful for them. Don't know if anyone used it though.

Lessee I'm also supposed to consider:
Have my thoughts on my project changed since the proposal (and similar questions)?
I was disappointed with how much the old message of tragedy and gloom and doom still persists. So over the course of research, my thesis changed from "it changed" to "it broadened the conversation, rather than replacing the old messages." So it's a more "complex" argument than the original, but more faithful to the reality of the situation.

How did I take my written argument and adapt it to the needs and interest of a listening audience? It wasn't just listening, it was also viewing. I used video-clips to structure the presentation, and questions for signposts. I didn't delve into detail on any of the issues, but kept it fairly shallow - just going over the points I had to. I started with a question to the audience, to help them feel involved. I also used various body language and tone of voice changes to emphasize my points. I wanted a clean - simple to read - slide format. I went with just black-on-white, but added a cropped photo of a spectrum along the bottom to emphasize that autism is a spectrum (and that neurotypicals are on the same spectrum!)

How do genre and media impact the writing process?
Um, which genre and media? Considering that I live on the 'net, it didn't change much for me. I've been a netizen since late 94, and never looked back. So - for me, this was my natural environment.

How do genre and media impact the research process? For example, do web-based research sources require a different approach and perspective than print-based sources? How so?

I view web-based sources as primary sources. Just as anyone could write a book, a letter to the editor, a pamphlet, or a letter to someone, people can write their views and perspectives on the web. Most blogs and many sites provide comments, which acts like a peer-review system. In any case, I view the web as just another source of data - just easier to access. Many articles and books are easily accessed via things like google booksearch and google scholar (I *adore* google scholar!) And with de.li.cio.us, I can tag things and explore sites others used similar tags on. With web-sources, you need to track when you accessed them (particularly a source like wikipedia) since the source may (and probably will) be edited and updated. Some folks had trouble with youtube videos being removed. That's why I found out how to download and clip them myself, so that I didn't have to worry about the potential transience of items on the web. All in all, as someone who's done research both before and after the advent of the web, it's WAY better now.

1 comment:

emily said...

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