My research philosophy–a work in progress.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about personal branding and how to best market my skills and experience. Here some questions I’ve been processing extensively of late:

  1. To what extent should I link the personal to the professional?
  2. How can I best express the breadth of my experience?
  3. What can I do to more clearly articulate my priorities?
  4. Is it really so dangerous to walk the line between the academic and professional communities?

I decided quite recently to seriously begin working out where to position myself within highly related worlds of work and self-expression. For me, this means articulating a research philosophy, a teaching philosophy, and what basically comes down to a philosophy of creation in general.

I decided to share the development of my various philosophies publicly simply because I’ve never really heard from anyone else how they came up with their own, and frankly I’d love some feedback.

I’ve begun here with my research philosophy because I only recently really came to terms with my passion for research; I always found it interesting, but wasn’t sure that it was for me. In the past few years I’ve discovered that I find the process of questioning, designing, analysing and reporting research deeply intrinsically rewarding. The whole world is a puzzle, and it seems as though we’ve only recently gained the processing power and vocabulary to piece it together meaningfully–to express its beauty not just to the research community but to doers and thinkers from all walks to life …

Before I present what I’ve come up with so far, here’s some inspiration from a self-styled ‘scienartist’ whose tumblr I find interesting:

Click to visit
Science ∪ Art = Wonder

Without further ado, here are some thoughts:

  • Science is a service.
  • To best serve society, science must be transparent and context-aware.
  • To best serve the field of education, social scientists must develop literacy in multiple approaches to understanding how and why people interact with information.
  • No single approach, and no single study can yield a comprehensive understanding of how individuals interact with information technologies — each individual exploration contributes modestly.





Prezi: a funky, fresh presentation tool

I love Prezi, and I am not ashamed.

Note: nobody paid me to love Prezi. I tried it, I loved it, and I’ve used it again and again …

Prezi has been around since 2009. It’s an easy-to-use cloud-based editor (you can download presentations to present offline) that really changed the way I think about presentations and how the medium of story-telling can affect the impact of one’s work.

Prezi is a powerful collaborative tool. 

I’ve used Prezi for team-based projects in several courses now, and while the occasional technical glitch (e.g., disappearing edits) did arise, collaboratively designing diagrams, mind-maps and developing the navigation of the presentation itself turned out to be an incredibly rewarding process.

Below, I’ve embedded a presentation I worked on this summer with my colleagues Antonia and Diane for a consulting course (IDEA Aircraft cleaning attendants TNA for Airflow Airways on Prezi, Version 1). For this assignment, we pitched our skills as a consulting team to a fictional airline seeking a training solution to improve cleaning staff performance.

I’m incredibly proud of how that project turned out, and I think that the Prezi itself presents the best evidence of our team cohesion. We each contributed our own expertise in terms of content, but created the visual design for the presentation collaboratively. In doing so, we gained an in-depth understanding of each others’ contributions, and found ways to illustrate our argument that tied all of our work together in an attractive, impactful package.

As my colleague Stefan pointed out on his blog, the canvas+camera movement mechanic of navigation encourages the designed to consider the use of potential powerful visual & kinetic metaphors. If you step through the presentation, you’ll see that first presented ourselves and our philosophy as a company, set out the context for the problem we’d set out to solve, our analyses, and our proposed solutions. You can see that the logic of our persuasive argument is realized in the visual design we developed.

That presentation also illustrates one of other attributes I love about Prezi …

Prezi’s canvas encourages non-linear story-telling.

Below, I’ve embedded an alternative version of the presentation, IDEA Aircraft cleaning attendants TNA for Airflow Airways on Prezi, Version 2. In fact, this is the one we ended up using for our final pitch. If you step through both presentations you’ll see that for the ‘big show’, we essentially presented our case in reverse. We chose to do this for a number of reasons; the first was that we’d timed our presentation and decided that the best use of our limited pitch time (10 minutes), we’d be better off presenting the meat first.

23-Year-Olds can read too:Ageist marketing and the emerging entrepreneur

In the past year, I’ve become fairly active on LinkedIn; though I have yet to contribute much content of my own, I’ve become an avid consumer of business- and professionally-focused articles and threads.

This morning, as I pulled up the daily digest, I was immediately drawn to this sensational headline: “11 Reasons a 23-Year-Old Shouldn’t Run Your Social Media”.  Now, as a 24-year-old aspiring social media guru, I was alarmed and intrigued; the entry-level job market is already relatively small for individuals of my age. What are today’s decision-makers hearing about workers in my demographic? Are new grads lacking specific technical skills? How can these be developed? Perhaps the problem is research skills–what should businesses be looking for?

I usually find Hollis Thomases’s articles concise and informative, but today I was disappointed. Great: another tired, ageist reframing of solid but common-sense advice. I don’t mean to single out Ms. Thomases here, but I’ve seen this rhetoric before, and I am not impressed.  I’m going to sum up in 2 quick phrases the substantive arguments so insultingly and tediously packaged in this article:

1) evaluate new hires for their fit to the competencies of the job

2) research social media strategy, like any business strategy, before applying it to your business

A few thoughts for Ms. Thomases:

I appreciate that young business owners may not be the target demographic for a firm that emphasizes experience and competence over the more typical “young and fresh” approach to social media strategy. Here’s the problem: some “new grads” may, in fact, hold decision-making positions earlier than you think. They may not feel ready to “enter adulthood and settle down,” but they may be quite confident in their ability to recognize smug rhetoric and influence your professional reputation. They may also remember who capitalized on “kids-these-days” antagonism to promote a business that had already established credibility by multiple means. Don’t overstate the influence of age on competence. Don’t alienate the young. 

Every young small business operator I know who launched themselves into the big scary world of social network marketing now definitely appreciates the power of a systematic and informed approach to online promotion. They all literally spent years developing their network marketing strategies; making mistakes and cleaning them up. These individuals know the value of building online marketing and advertising capacity, but their ventures simply aren’t mature enough to turn to consulting firms just yet.

In short, don’t forget emerging entrepreneurs. They are potential clients. They are potential strategic partners. They are also potential competitors. They are potentially powerful people, and they’re watching you too.