Sunday, July 13, 2008


OK, so I finished coding the interview broken up by my bagel sandwich and am now plowing through another interview which is actually twice as long. Still very engaging. I'll be frank: I've had a couple of rather difficult interviews to get through, so perhaps one of the reasons why my work is going so well today is that I've been working on some of the more positive, upbeat interactions I had during data collection. The next couple of interviews are going to be doozies, though.

Anyway, now I'm far enough along that I'm able to make decent comparisons among the participants. I can tell who is higher along on certain concepts than others, who I think is going to go far in their careers, others for whom I worry just a bit. It's pretty neat to feel like I know these interviews well enough that I can start organizing them that much better. I'm not as far into the woods as I was, even 24 hours ago. Weird how fast that happened.

I moved out of the office/prison and onto the screen porch. Am still really focused. I have other industrious neighbors who's yards are adjacent to mine, and their work is helping me focus, actually. One couple is going to town on their garden while another neighbor is repairing his boat. Guess we're all hard at work, outside in the back yard on a Sunday. Working in a community of other workers always keeps me focused (see any posts done in the cafe in SCT, and you'll remember why I said this).

Back to it. Just made more coffee. Bye.


Hi. I'm finally feeling like I'm getting somewhere fast with the data analysis. One of the concepts I'm exploring with my participants is that of flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). It's pretty funny to have my own flow experience when I'm looking at the responses related to this concept. A few minutes ago, or at least it felt like it was a few minutes ago, I started coding a 23-page transcript. I said to myself, "OK, get to page 8 so you'll be just over a third of the way finished before lunch." I started getting hungry for lunch at the end of page 11...almost halfway finished. Too funny! Total in-the-moment experience of flow.

Back to it, while eating my bagel sandwich, ignoring the perfect Sunday weather...

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Coding and Memory Bursts: Undoing the Closet

Hi. It's been a while. I've been working like a puppy digging under a fence.

I actually started some of the content for this post way back at the end of April. Not sure why I didn't post it, but here it is. I'm editing it, updating it, and finally posting it.

Today, July 3, is one of the days I'm working on dissertation-work, and on work-work, from home. I'm really glad it's raining and muggy out today: keeps me focused and able to sit in my office/prison without getting distracted by house chores. OK, anyhow: onto the bulk of the post as related to the dissertation:

I've been coding coding coding interview transcripts these last couple of months. Months, yes. Not doing all that much in one sitting, but am making progress. Things are moving along well enough. What I'm finding interesting is the level of detail I remember from the interviews themselves while re-reading the transcripts. In a way, I'm re-living the actual interview experience with each person as I do this. I interviewed 14 undergraduates for this study. Some of the participants have insight that seems beyond their years, at least with regard to the direction of their studies and careers. Others do not, which is actually pretty normal.

Either way, I find it exciting to hear how they conceptualize their future based on the work they've done in college. I typically feel really positive about the world and our society when I'm finished coding an interview, probably because most participants found my topic to be upbeat. I'm asking them to think about themselves, after all, and most people don't mind chatting with someone else who seems to be interested in their experiences. Some are saying that they were glad to have had a chance to participate in the interview because it helped them to reflect on their college experiences, something they do not take the time to do very often. Hey, if they get something positive out of the interview besides just the gift certificate I gave to the participants, then that's all the better!

A week or two ago, a friend asked how the data analysis was coming along. I compared it to when you have a large storage closet that you know you need to clean. There are useful things in there you're not using because the closet is too full and cluttered. At some point, you need to just pull everything out of the closet, lay it on the floor, sort through it, and repack the closet with only the things you'll use. Comparing that to data analysis, I'm at the point now where the crap is out of the closet, spread all over the floor. I'm slowly wading through, throwing things out I no longer need, and sorting through that which is still relevant. I'm now in a good place, especially because for a while I think I was in the, "Holy shit, I have to clean out that damn closet," stage. I'm through the fear and anxiety, and I'm just cleaning house now. Finally.

Well OK, there's still some fear and anxiety. For example, I've no idea what sorts of shelving, storage boxes, hangers, or anything that I'll need for repacking the closet. The thought of organizing everything into something that's understandable is a bit daunting. I do know from experience, however, that the closet's organization will define itself as I move through the cleaning process. It's not a perfect process: I'm probably going to buy some storage boxes I think I need now, but later I'll return and exchange for something different. I'm probably going to start organize things as I'm moving forward, but later on may change the whole order of things. That's alright. Part of the process, I suppose.

OK, gotta get back to digging under the fence.