For 3.6.19

Consolidating the past lessons before moving on

We are doing two things in this class right now, including:

  • We “front-end” our work by reading Craft and other normative descriptions of research methods and workflow
  • We “back-end” out work through tutoring, examining how we have interpreted these lessons in our particular cases and either re-doing the lessons with corrections or reaching out as seems appropriate

So you definitely want to do some of both for this next week — there are so many things to do, that doing a little of each is an appropriate strategy before narrowing our work down to detailed, specific arguments, collection of evidence, and addressing other researchers

  • In your teams, identify one of each for next week, the exercise and proportion up to you
  • Assuming responsibility for your own direction is definitely something you want to practice, as the better part of learning is going beyond the assigned lesson to develop your own and to the end of becoming independent researchers

A quick review of this week’s achievements, maybe what others have done, and this review, might be helpful to you?

Not if, but to what degree, how, and a survey: Vincent and Edna

When they wrote, “is it (online dating) really a social revolution? /We want to know if dating applications have become a new way of socializing, almost indispensable. / Understand new modes of communication, negative (and positive) impacts on behavior…”

  • We discussed how “if” leads to simple yes/no answers, but if you replect “if” with “to what degree” or “how differently are the new forms of socialization” you open up the problem to variations perhaps best approached as a survey
  • But in surveying, the point is to manage scope — touch all the variations — and then hone in on one or another creative, innovative social construction
  • For example, we discussed, how is it that women using online dating applications likely often do so in their “kaffee Klatsch”, giggling and exchanging advice, tips, and humor, and so, around “online dating” they are organizing “offline gossip,” or more properly, forming social groups that might be the better part of it
  • For perspective, I know of women who formed self-help groups based on a common experience still meeting regularly 25 years later, still giggling over their past adventures, while discussing over tea whatever problems they are having to deal with today
  • For business students, this suggests that attention to the application and user interactions with it is only one tiny pat of the picture: your concept might better include something like “life world” and so an expensive business model, for example: there is the museum exhibit, but then there is the bookstore, coffee shop, and the people met along the way: Apple, for example, used to be a computer company, then it became a phone company, then it became an “ecosystem” compeny, and now, if you read their corporate strategy discussions, is making their money on services: look for “morphing,” how one thing leads to another

Mindmaps, Outlines, and the Imagination: Nadia and Eva

The wonderful thing about the excellent highly structured (“so GERMAN! we say” ) outline of these two is the wonderfully exploratory, fantasy-making questions they fit into it, like:

  • “We could … talk about the different means of …
  • “We could … categorize the topic into …
  • “We could … analyze the location of
  • “We could … compare traditional …

You might laugh when I make the comparison to tango dancing and the joke one of us offered, when reviewing his six partners for the evening: “we take the ladies out for a test drive …,” but there is a wonderful truth to this: before you hitch a ride for the long haul, one does well to survey the field, figure out what or who you want to spend some serious time with, and so, as here, turn the questions into opportunities for speculation, fantasy, dreaming … what might you like to do next?

  • Looking at Steps for Better Thinking, that modeling we examined in the first weeks we see that the role of manager is to choose among options, so that as researchers, an expansive survey — scope — is a completely necessary part of it before one commits to a plan of action

Step back to ask the larger questions, and then look for experts: Marie and Giovanna

Marie and Giovanna have found a completely interesting discussion about rising rents in Berlin, and you all would do well to examine their mindmap to see how they have:

  • Explore three options
  • Within each examined categories
  • Each category in terms of SWOT
  • Within each various ways of addressing the problem

This is a masterwork of mind-mapping as it demonstrates a powerful method for managing complexity, alternatively fitting details and anecdotes into a larger scheme, and it shows that they really have developed a detailed reading of those three options — and could with confidence do more if that were the next move: “Should I stay or should I go?”

  • The could stop right here and prepare a thesis based on analyzing theses three options
  • But there is a lot more there, there, so the question is: what might they do next that takes them to an even higher understanding?

My advice is, that from the outside they have done a great deal, but if they consult expert opinion they will open up a far more sophisticated universe:

  • Their mind map presented to an expert would demonstrate that they are capable of disciplined, sophisticated, conceptual and detailed work
  • What’s missing include disciplinary authority and relevance

Disciplinary authority means what informed experts are saying that might put things into perspective: they have at present three options, but no means to decide on which one to pursue: for that, they need advice of experts, maybe direct advice: an interview or attendance at lecture or discussion among experts (Berlin has many of the best, and they are available!)

Relevance means mapping this conceptual framework to the practical problem, which is one of options actively and presently before city planners, government, citizen groups: here, too, a prudent next step would be to find them and conduct interviews and where one is looking for perspective.

  • Who are the urbanists at the Humbold, TU, FU, and in government who they might contact, visit, or attend lectures of? Google!
  • Who are the sources that the journalists at the Tagesspiegel call up on the phone when they are preparing an article? Google!

Again, this mindmap alone demonstrates that they both know their topic pretty well and are capable of systematic work: showing this to an expert would convince them that spending some time advising them would be put to good use: they’ve done their homework and it pays off!!

  • But they don’t know how to put that into perspective, and that they can’t do on their own: other people decide this, or at least spell out the arguments one way or another
  • Thus, we have the options, and from there we might survey the options on how to interpret the options: interview experts

And guess what: there are discussions of urban policy in Berlin that they can find records of, written by real people, and maybe even conferences and lectures in the next weeks they might attend.

  • A good resource, someone who has studied this for 10 years or so and published on it, will likely respond warmly to this, and welcome well-informed questions: you have something to offer them
  • A good resource expects you to keep asking questions, to see yourself as at the beginning of a long journey, so you best see your first steps as your first steps and be both confident and humble: give them a chance to take you under their wing
  • Or if you go to a public lection, which I also recommend, see how differently the question may be addressed

Keep the long view in mind, be neutral for awhile yet

  • Comparing and contrasting what an investment banker has to say about the rental market to what a squatter occupying a buildling has to say may be apples and oranges, but it may also be two sides of the same coin: as long as you limit such comparisons as part of a larger research strategy, you’ll have some time for wild comparisons and speculation, and it will be completely fun and interesting