(from June 25)
Hi to our Fabulous Cohort,
So I had a phone conversation with my mom this morning in which she asked was I still working on the same project, wasn’t I tired of it yet, and isn’t it hard to just be off on my own, self-regulating all summer? My answers were yes, no, and yes. Yes, same project, and for a while to come yet; no, I’m not tired of it — quite the opposite — and yes it’s been really difficult working for and with myself so far.
On the tired note, this sensation does exist for me but only because I’ve had so many big, deep conversations with so many folks. It’s this strange/great thing that many people I meet and start chatting with have something to say about Occupy. Some have spent a significant amount of time thinking about it or participating in some form so when they learn I’m actually conducting research, the conversation is rarely short or mundane. This is great that there’s this interest but at the same time, it’s draining. I’m finding down time increasingly valuable!
On the independent work note, it has been a challenge doing my own thing. After meeting with my mentor at least once a week for the last five months, I’m having a bit of separation anxiety…however, I’m also finding new people to reach out to and pester with questions, and am generally becoming more confident in just making a choice and going with it (which was probably Briggs’ plan all along..).
For the most part, I’ve been spending my days in the Folklore and Bancroft archives looking through documentation on the Free Speech Movement and becoming overwhelmed by how much info has been collected and preserved. Along with the continuous in-flow of newspaper and magazine articles sent from friends, family, instructors, and classmates, my head is pretty full. Seriously. This stuff is oozing out of my eyeballs.
And this is probably the biggest problem I’m encountering right now. I have so much information I don’t know how to manage it all. I keep thinking of Louise Fortmann’s talk that she gave on “hair color” data and not keeping what I don’t need. However, at this point I still haven’t clearly enough identified what I do and don’t need. My questions keep morphing and, because Briggs told me not to, I’m not freaking out about that yet but it’s close! Over the last couple days though, I’ve thought of two strategies that might help. First, I had developed a rough conceptual framework through the proposal and have now gathered a tonne of data so I think the next week will be spent going back to the scholars (maybe the current top three on my list) and revamping the methodology, and then the week after that going back to the data (I haven’t hardly even started looking at the current Occupy stuff yet). The second strategy is regarding the volume of articles/pieces/books I’m wanting to look at. I think I’m going to attempt to choose what appear to be the top candidates from different categories/genres, read abstracts and/or conclusions, and make some general statements. Example, newspaper articles: Daily Cal seems to convey such and such opinion; EBXpress so and so, etc.
I’ve been working out of the Folklore Archive mostly and while it’s a cold and windowless room, there is another project underway in there right now which has two recent Folklore MA graduates in its confines and they too are a great resource for me. As scary as it seems to me today, next Monday I’m going to begin to write. Really rough stuff. This week: revamp the methodological framework; next week take what I have so far and write. Just a little bit.
I’ve also conducted my first interview which went much better than I expected. It’s been expectedly difficult to a) reach people and b) pin them down to an actual time and place for interviewing so I’m already bracing for the fact that a lot of these interviews will probably have to happen in the fall.
Happy digging everyone.