LIB 1201 Research and Documentation
“Cool Stuff: Tech for Tech”
Introduction: Development of the Topic.
First, without really planning it, we went through a “brainstorming” process, starting from an idea one of us had gotten from someone who not in the group. That idea, for creation of an app for cooking recipes, came to a dead end when we googled “recipe app by ingredients” and found that one already existed. It took some time before we discovered that, however. Because none of us was really interested in the idea, we kept distracting ourselves with other things we found on the Internet, such as a wig with GPS and Amazon’s proposal for delivery by drones.
Going home that evening, everyone felt that we were at a dead end. But, with only two more class sessions before the presentation, we did not want to wait until the following week to decide on a topic. One person came up with the idea of using the activity we all liked, looking at articles and websites about new technology, as the basis of the project. Everyone was flexible enough to adapt to the new idea for a focus. It could have been very difficult and stressful if anyone had wanted to force an idea on others, especially if even one person objected to it.
Using OpenLab as a platform for the project seemed a good idea given the time constraints for completing the project. Making that choice, we had an existing form to work with. In exploring how OpenLab worked, we were gaining knowledge that could be applied in other ways, however the project worked out, and we were sure that some part of it could be accomplished. There were also drawbacks in turning to an existing resource rather than challenging ourselves to imagine a form we would want. Some of the most interesting possibilities that emerged in the research process pertained to data visualization. But potential for developing that aspect of the project with OpenLab was somewhat limited. On the other hand, there was excitement in getting OpenLab to accommodate something the group wanted it to do, such as incorporate videos.
Researching the Topic.
We spent a fair amount of time looking at and playing with the OpenLab site, to see what resources existed and what we could do with it, both for the Project Site and for the conception of the project, to be based on that platform. We researched topics as we they came up in our discussions, as well as in response to the professor’s response to our draft proposal. We made much use of Google; Google Images; Google Scholar. We went back over some of the assigned readings for the course to review topics such as Web 2.0, tag clouds, and data visualization. We spoke with each other, bringing information we found surprising and interesting and asking questions based on each other’s strengths. We asked ourselves and the information what purposes the project could serve; how people could be motivated to keep the tool going and possibly growing; what new forms might evolve.
Implementation of Presentation.
- Selection of Presentation Software and Organization of the Material
Initially we thought that we would use PowerPoint for the presentation. But when we learned about Prezi in class, we decided to try it, because it seemed innovative and visually dynamic. We chose a Prezi format that would allow presentation of the important aspects of the tool in bullet-point form. The outline of the mobile sculpture shows the interconnectedness and balance among the different aspects of the proposal. The magnifier feature allows for close focus to read the bullet-point text.
- Crafting Presentation Strategies:
For the presentation, we assigned topics based on what group members had done the most work on. Caroline had worked most on the project proposal; Hoi worked on the Prezi visual presentation; Yarie worked most on the Project Site, so those parts of the project were what we talked about. Thomas had been involved in all the elements of the project, and he had been instrumental in organizing tasks. So he will introduce the class presentation and speak about process and make concluding remarks.
- Assignment of Tasks.
To a great extent, tasks for members to take up were easy to discover based on the assignment: setting up the Project Site on OpenLab; preparing the PowerPoint presentation; writing the Project Proposal and Process Documentation essays; coordinating these three tasks and managing the group. All of the group members found some news items on innovative technology to post to the OpenLab project site as samples. Work was allotted by a combination of conscious decision—“We need to divide up the work”—and doing what each person most preferred, along with trust in what the others were doing.
The four of us have different backgrounds and interests, but our group worked well together because everyone was willing to be flexible and compromise. It was a good decision to choose a topic that involved something that was fun for everyone—finding weird and interesting stuff on the Internet—which was discovered from the group process, rather than trying to figure it out. We might have felt less anxiety at the start if we had made it clear to ourselves that a brainstorming stage was the first step. At the other end of the process, we would have felt less stress if we had had a better sense of how much time the project would take, and if we had planned accordingly for at least one more work session together outside of class.
The group quickly recognized the value of assigning tasks according to people’s interests, training, and working styles. Some people like to work collaboratively in person; some like to work on a defined project by themselves while in a group; some prefer to work separately while keeping in touch by electronic communication. In retrospect, especially if we had had more time for the project, it might have been helpful to have group members concentrating on different parts of the project do more work together, so that everyone got a sense of the whole picture of the process. That would have involved more challenge than doing what each of us already knew we could do well. The drawback of taking on the challenge would be, obviously, the extra time it would take to explore and learn. The advantage would be learning new kinds of information and skills. On the whole, though, the project was something new for all of us, and we learned a lot about group process as well as about new possibilities for our studies and careers.