Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Insight From Doing

Late to the party here, I know. Regardless, some thoughts...

I am struck by the similar thread of practice or iteration that can be found in both Luker (2008) and Ratto (2011). Luker introduces the idea of thinking through writing, most explicitly in her exercise at the end of Chapter 1. To her, we need to actually write in order to discover elements of what we think (I hope I haven't oversimplified or butchered her thoughts on this!). With Ratto's critical making, the focus is on the insights that come about from making a physical object. I view the practice of writing in the same way as the process of making.

The frustrating thing (for me, anyway) is that I find writing the hardest part of the academic process. I love collecting all the information. I hate writing my findings. Maybe collecting all the information is just procrastination from the actual writing process? Nevertheless, I need to incorporate writing, and the reflection that comes with it, more regularly in my research process.

Luker, K. (2008). Salsa dancing into the social sciences: Research in an age of info-glut. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Ratto, M. (2011). Critical making: Conceptual and material studies in technology and social life. The Information Society, 27, 25-260.


  1. I hadn't made the connection between Luker and Ratto, and although I see it now because of your posts, I would say that I agree more with Ratto than I do with Luker.
    Where Ratto advocates for the implicit value of doing and making, both very organic processes that aren't necessarily tied to any particular object, Luker's suggestion of thinking through writing sort of diminishes the value of the thinking process on its own.
    Some of my best thinking happens when I'm not tied to instruments of writing, and for me at least, the writing process tends to structure my thought process. Necessary of course to get through this degree, and the profession that will follow, but for sure another example of the tool shaping the individual as opposed to the other way around.

  2. I agree, it is easy to get waylaid from the research process and avoid sitting down and doing the actual writing. I think part of the problem is that there is so much information out there, you could keep researching a topic forever and never get to all the literature. I find it helpful to write down thoughts and diagrams as I'm conducting research to connect all the different threads together, and at a certain point, when you have enough information, you really just need to make yourself stop the research and do the actual writing.

  3. I also, find the writing to be a difficult step in the process, but I wonder if there is not insight to be gained from the doing of all aspects of research. In conducting my literature for my SSHRC proposal I feel like I have gained greater experience with the idea of insight through doing. On the onset of this project I had the perception of the first step to be coming up with the research question. Then the third step conducting the literature review and finally identifying my methods. When I began to look at the literature trying to answer practical questions such as where my research will fit in and what methods should I use, I found that my original research question was being informed by this process. In that what I was learning was actively changing the question itself. This makes me consider that perhaps through all stages of actually doing research the whole project becomes a little clearer which creates iterations of all parts.