This week has been spent in a bit of a productive daze. I’ve lurched from task to task, moving in what feels like too many directions at once. That said, I’ve come out on the other side quite content—sometimes that’s the best you can ask for.
I mentioned last week that I’d received some news about a research grant. Time to spill the beans!
uOttawa offers a program that connects undergraduate students with professors to conduct research. I knew I wanted to try academic research, to get a sense for what the graduate level might be like. I asked one of my professors if he’d be willing to take me on as an undergraduate researcher, and he graciously accepted.
Together, we designed a research project to investigate one of my overriding interests: how people prepare for technological change. Specifically, I’m looking at how Ontario teachers in the 1980s shared information in preparation for the wide-scale introduction of standardized educational computers. To do this, I’m analysing historical issues of the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario’s newsletter—ECOO is an organization set up in the late 70s to share information between teachers and other professionals about educational computing. It’s a small project, but it’s a fun one.
Trying to understand the effects of technological change is essential. It’s hardly a certain thing—we rarely realize the full degree of change, and definitely not in advance. But after the fact, we can look at how others prepared for such change—from it, we might learn some lessons for today. This is a particularly interesting case for me, because these newsletters demonstrate just how key the role of individuals is in pushing organizational change. Making explicit the role that individuals play in preparing for change interests me a lot.
Anyway, that’s the personal update! I intend to work in the open on this project, and I’ll set up a section on my site to hold those posts. Now, though, I have some links to share:
- This piece on the horrifying underbelly of YouTube for kids has been making the rounds, and rightly so. (See also this earlier piece on the same issue.)
- From a few weeks back, a profile of the various characters who depute (present to) Toronto City Council. (I know it sounds weird, but it’s awesome, trust me.)
- This is kind of a cheat link, because it’s for a book, but I quite enjoyed reading Bruno Munari’s Design as Art this week. Easy to pick up (chapters are usually three or four pages), entertaining (incisive Italian wit, what more do you need), and inspiring (in both the thought-provoking and action-provoking senses).
That’s it for this week! I’ve got to get back to a bunch of reading. I hope you have a good week, however that looks to you.
Sent on November 5th, 2017.