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 :)


  1. Does this mean you finished? I was just working on my findings chapter and realized that 85 pages might be too long. But I'll let my advisor help me sort that out!

  2. sadly not. yet. im at 97000 words without conclusions...i anticipate 105000 and then have to knock it back...