Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Bresler on Aesthetics...2

This is a follow-up blog on Liora Bresler's work.  (See Bresler to the right...It is amazing what you can find on Google Images!)

First, some information on where you can find these materials.
Bresler, L. (2006). Embodied Narrative Inquiry: A Methodology of Connection. Research Studies in Music Education, 27, 21-43.
The piece titled "Experiential pedagogies in research education: Drawing on engagement with artworks" will be a chapter in a book edited by Candace Stout which will be released in late 2010.  

This morning I realized that I needed to take more account of what Liora was saying about the differences between textual/visual and auditory/oral.  (Her piece on Embodied Narrative is where she speaks most strongly to this.] This has great importance to what I have been thinking about in terms of "artful computing".  Manufacturing text from interviews and observations is, in and of itself, a process of reducation and visualization.  Visualization has been at the heart of what Qualitative Data Analysis Software is doing.  Even with the new capacities for audio and video, the emphasis in QDAS is still on reduction towards text.  
Bresler draws upon the works of music educator Wayne Bowman and cultural historian Walter Ong in thinking about the nature of sound to illustrate how sound is a uniquely embodied experience, and one that exists in process and change as opposed to the visual which exists in a state of constancy outside of our bodies.  

Why do I say that text is reduction?  Well, it is the beginning of the process of shrinking, leaving out,  condensing, and reduction that makes it possible to transform experience into new sets of symbols and combinations of symbolic meanings that is necessary in qualitative research.  You turn it into text--reduction begins.  You code the text--reduction again.  You play with the codes and create tables or statements or models--reduction again...and juxtaposition.  
Well, there is much good to think with here.  Thanks again.  

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bresler on Aesthetics

Cecil Touchon, Fusion Series #2174, Collage on...Image via Wikipedia
My Journal Project is really percolating along and the outline and ideas are falling into place.  I've contacted several friends to ask for resources and feedback.  Liora Bresler from the University of Illinois sent me three great articles:

"Experiential pedagogies in research education: Drawing on engagement with art works"

"Embodied narrative inquiry: A methodology of connection", and

"Toward connectedness: Aesthetically based research" (this one was published in Studies in Art Education, September 2006). 

What a treat!  And wow were they helpful.

Here is what I am taking away with me:
  • Connectedness is something that aesthetics and the arts can lend to qualitative research.  Connectedness in the arts offers a means for us to make sense of our relationship with participants AND the scholarly community.  Connectedness provides a means to fulfill qualitative research's desire for empathic understanding (verstehen) with which we have long struggled.  
  • Embodied Narrative drawing upon arts-based understanding of embodiment to inform qualitative research's use of narrative inquiry we will have access to a much richer conceptualization as researchers.  Embodied Narrative Inquiry allows us to make sense of silence/voice; musical/visual; self/other in new ways that can enlarge qualitative research.  Considering the nature of sound.. the possibilities of musical improvisation...and the characteristics or qualities of musical presentation--all of these offer ways to flesh out the notion of embodied narrative inquiry.  
  •  Qualitative Research Instruction:  In "Experiential pedagogies..." Liora shares a wonderful assignment from her qualitative research course.  Students do sustained observations of paintings--one they like and one they dislike.  She shares a large number of the comments made in students' journals or papers and discusses the issues in qualitative research that are raised through this exercise.  I want to do it in my class!  It's a winner.
Thank you to integrate all of this good stuff into my arguments. 

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Jer Thorp at IBM Cambridge

JerImage by johnnybelmont via Flickr
Yesterday I had the pleasure of hearing (and seeing) Jer Thorp, a kind of computer Renaissance man, who presented his work at the IBM Cambridge offices.  He is a scientist, computer programmer, and artist rolled into one.  His art, as he describes it, are the software that he creates to work with visualizations of data. 

He showed a range of examples of his work.  He has been exploring the NY Times archives using their API (Application Programming allows one piece of software to speak to another).  He explained that where Open Source was once the center of computer interest, that interest has now shifted to Open Data.  

With hundreds of thousands of data items from the NY Times--the articles--he demonstrated how small, simple programs can illustrate different aspects of the information.  One that caught my eye, was a comparison of the word strength and connections within two articles.  This is like IBM's "Many Eyes", but that tool is still related to a single piece of text.  It is not comparative in the way that Thorp's was. 

Of particular interest to me were the "facets".  The NY Times has been tagging their articles since the 1800's (using real live human indexers).  Facets are "parent nodes" in NVivo speak that relate to categories like description, geography, person, etc.  Within the facets there are "child nodes".

He demonstrated another interesting piece of work tracking people who say "Good Morning" on Twitter.  In this piece he turned to Magna Carta, a Google tool, that gives the Latitude and Longitude for a text.  As the globe turned and colors popped out at us, reflecting the time zones coming on as risers tweeted "Good Morning" to the world, he made the point that "huge amounts of data are trailing behind us".

His blog provides more information on his work. 

Oh--he also introduced me to an unusual off-beat artist Mark Lombardi, whose art consisted of graphs or node networks related to conspiracies he tracked.  These are truly like what one develops in Qualitative Data Analysis Software.  He, and his friends, considered them art.  Here's what Wikipedia said about it:

 Lombardi called his diagrams Narrative Structures [2] and they are structurally similar to sociograms – a type of graph drawing used in the field of social network analysis, and to a lesser degree to earlier artists like Hans Haacke – but in Lombardi's historical diagrams, each node or connection was drawn from news stories from reputable media organizations. The aesthetic impact is unique – the schematics are elaborate and delicate, yet precise and factual spiderwebs of illustrations depicting alleged networks of criminal conspiracies.

This talk gave me hope in regard to the ideas I've been playing around with regarding artful computing.

The talk was sponsored by the Center for Social Software at IBM.  Their new application, SAND, is looking a lot like QDAS.  I'm looking forward to learning more about it.  

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Autoethnography as Method: Heewon Chang

into the lightImage by »dolfi« via Flickr
My summer reading continues.  I just finished Heewon Chang's book:  Autoethnography as Method (Left Coast Press, 2008).  It's a wonderful contribution to the literature on qualitative research methodology.  With all of the hoopla about autoethnography over the last decade (and I don't mean that as critical) it was about time for a text like this to be written.  Thank you Dr. Chang for doing so! 

Heewon Chang has taken on the task of translating emergent ideas into concrete methods for the next generation of researchers (or for those in the field who haven't yet investigated these methods).  Her writing is clear, well structured, and easy to follow.  The contents of the book are informative and provide good grounding in the background that has been developing in this area.  Examples and exercises are included that help to make the methods concrete for new learners. 

I was particularly appreciative of her Part I:  Conceptual Framework which provides solid definitions of the topics she will be discussing, and a discussion of the context in which her work is situated vis-a-vis various literatures.  Her list of all the possibilities for terms for this kind of work was astounding.  No wonder it can seem a daunting area to enter!

It gave me good things to think about in regard to my Journal Project, which I am still trying to locate within this literature.  Interestingly, like any book that lays down the law (so to speak), it provides you with a backdrop for thinking about pushing the new boundary.  Personally, I am wondering about the boundary between me and them/self and other.  This will be my challenge, how to position something that is personal but professional within a discipline that is professional, with some hints of personal. 

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Tagging in my own blog

I have just had a revelation that has knocked my socks off.  I just realized that if I click on one of my designated tags, I pull up every blog that I have tagged that way.  I don't know what I thought they did (if they didn't do this)...I think I thought the tags were there so that others could search (say in Google or Bing) and find this particular piece of text.

I clikced on "arts based research" and everything I tagged in this way became one seemless set of blogs.  I suddenly realized the breadth of posts that I had seen as fitting this tag.  It was far more than the set of items that I had associated with visual memos. 

I found this extremely help as a visual aid, particularly as posts mount up and I lose track of earlier items (with my limited brain power).  As is common with technology--serrendipity is all!

Bruce and Bishop: New Literacies and Community Inquiry

I have just had the opportunity to read Bertram (Chip) Bruce and Ann Bishop's chapter for the New Literacies Handbook "New Literacies and Community Inquiry".  Sorry I can't give you a better reference than that. 

It is typical Bruce, in that it, in a careful (and yet seemingly effortless manner) he (and Ann) take the reader on a gentle journey reflecting in great depth upon Dewey's contributions to our world and expanding our understanding about literacy, technology, community and the meaning of inquiry.  I always marvel when I read one of his pieces--How does he do it? 

The opening paragraph really says it all.  Chip and Ann--I have to quote it!

Community inquiry research focuses on people participating with others, on the lived experiences of feel, thinking, acting, and communicating.  It sees literacy as part of living in the world, not simply as a skill to be acquired in the classroom.  Inquiry is central, because as people live, they encounter challenges.  Through inquiry, people recognize a problem, mobilize resources, engage actively to resolve it, collaborate, and reflect on the experience.  Making sense of experience in this way, and doing so in concert with others in embodied historical circumstances, is fundamental to learning.
While Dewey is central to the story, Chip and Ann have also turned to Jane Adams (a contemporary of Dewey) as a complimentary pragmatic voice.  Reading this piece and talking to their colleague Jeanne Connell (also at the University of Illinois) who is doing work in Adams and educational philosophy, I am convinced that I have to read more about Adams soon. 

From a very person perspective, I am asking myself--what are the implications of this piece and its focus on community inquiry for my teaching and my research? 

1.  It takes me back to work I did with Sarah Kuhn on Thinking with Things in Qualitative Research...and the question of:  How do researchers, particularly qualitative researchers, appropriate technologies for their work?
2.   How does apprenticeship in qualitative research serve as a form of technology itself, one that defines the ways technologies of research will be encountered?  How does this apprenticeship establish the rules of technology useage?  As researchers mature, how do they appropriate technology?
3.  How do classes serve as communities of inquiry?  Are we providing good thorny problems of civic value?  How does coursework engage students as democratic communities engaged in understanding problematic concerns?
4.  How might Chip and Ann's discussion of technology as lived experience serve me in thinking about the technologies of qualitative research?

Chip--as always, it's been a good read!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Books from the ICQI conference

Pre-Columbian engraved copper plates from two ...Image via Wikipedia
It's been a long hiatus from blogging, but that's what the end of the semester will do to you.

A week ago I was at the ICQI conference in Champaign, Illinois (what fun!) and as my annual treat I picked up an armload of new books.  I feel strange carting off this much paper in this age of online communications.  I am not sure how much longer this tradition will continue.  I may find myself 'beaming down' the latest book into my I-Phone or some other device.  But for now I have this nice pile of fresh pages.

Here are my choices:

Erotic Mentoring:  Women's Transformations in the University by Janice Hocker Rushing (Left Coast Press).  This is the one I've started to read.  I like her invitational style (which she attributes to encounters with Ellis and like-minded qualitative researchers).  I was particularly interested in this book because of the possible connections to my own journal study.  There is a strong Jungian perspective here, something I haven't run into for a while. 

Autoethnography as Method by Heewon Chang (Left Coast Press).  I was very curious to see how a qualitative research methodology text would be translated through the eyes of autoethnography.  I also met Heewon at the conference--she was sitting near me in the session on coding organized by Ray Maietta--and it was then that I realized she was one of the winners of the first QSR teaching grant.  Now I am curious to talk with her more about the ways she is using NVivo with autoethnographic content.  You can do it, of course, but for the technophobic, technology is often frowned upon with more humanistic content or approaches.  Heewon--I will be calling! 

Guyana Diaries: Women's lives across difference by Kimberly Nettles (Left Coast Press).  I thought this book would be an interesting opportunity to read a real ethnography--not another methodology book--not that I distain methodology books.  In keeping with my journal project, it seemed like this would be a place to encounter some good feminist theory.  Nettles describes her studies of The Red Thread Development Corporation, a woman-run activist organization. 

Poetry as Method:  Reporting Research Through Verse by Sandra Faulkner (Left Coast Press) couldn't help but catch my eye.  Faulkner not only talks about representing research in poetry but also explores the ways poets processes parallel/intersect with similar processes of researchers.  She also provides guidelines for evaluating research poetry. 

Finally, I've been searching for a book(s) that would be helpful for moving students into doing online research, and that's why I came home with Janet Salmons Online Interviews In Real Time (Sage).  I looked at several other books on related topics, many with a more comprehensive approach but Salmons seemed the most engaging.  It is very hard to buy books about new technologies because once the book appears, you know the technology has moved on.  It looked like it offered advice that could hold with a range of technological changes. 

It's summer, so back to blogging! 

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