Kindness: the unsung research method

I am only speaking for myself, but hopefully others may relate.

I have spent hours retooling possible blog posts for this blog knowing full well I NEED to get an A- in this class to write a thesis next year. I try and formulate engaging writing about topics I am invested in and try to relate them to the course. But the more and more I write all I see are interest pieces: things I am writing for myself. They are of interest to me, but in no way do I truly feel compelled to post them beyond the requirements of this course (which sounds like selling your soul). Am I just not cut out to become a researcher?

My main research interests at the ischool surround how identity is formed through collections, and how those identities are passed on to the public. But I haven’t done much research on the topic yet since I was only inspired to write a thesis in late October of last year. This leaves me with very little with regards to anything really important or relevant to say about the subject other than hunches and bits of information I have yet to truly digest. Nor do I want my postings to read like a grocery list of research methods I foresee undertaking during my research, with reference to how Luker or Knight would feel about it .

I would like to think Luker (2008) would present this as a “So what?” conundrum (136). Why should the reader care? Why should they be interested in the stuff you as a researcher are (137)? I know I care, but I don’t know if I necessarily feel like you need to care as well. At this point in time, I actually think its quite alright if no one cares about my research. Is this bad? Can a researcher truly allow them selves to be uninterested in what other people think?

In the first line I express hope that others may feel the way I do. I initially only wrote the first part before the comma. But then, felt that I didn’t take into consideration writing beyond record keeping: creating and sharing. The very act of attempting to present your ideas in another form than that weird ephemeral voice inside your head changes it. As Luker points out in her first exercise on page 21, Balzac, when asked  how he felt about a play, once answered “How should I know […] I haven’t written the review yet!” The development of ideas or thoughts through words, presents a very distinct process of thinking, and I am coming around to agree with Luker that “something magical happens when you write things down” (20). Even my mood has changed since I forced myself to sit and write about how I felt about this assignment. I am still undecided if I should really care if anyone else cares – even though I hate how that sounds. But thinking repeatedly, rereading parts of Luker’s book and editing my thoughts for this post, has allowed me to stumble upon a part of the research process I never thought I would have: kindness*.

Kindness in so far as I am only now realizing it is a crucial part of how ideas develop best. That we, as budding (or for those established researchers) are jumping into a life where we are expected to share, expected to “take big intellectual risks” (Luker 2008, 220) and put ourselves, our time, our interests, and our research in judgement’s line of fire. Hoping we come out still standing. In this respect it’s not that I have no interest in opinions or sharing, I just don’t believe I am ready for any yet. Yet, this blog requires I talk about things I still feel I know too little about to be sharing. And for this I ask for your kindness. Kindness in that my writing, unfinished (and conceited) as it may be, is not complete, nor will it evolve if it is not shared. It is your kindness as a reader (and hopefully commentator) that will help shape my ideas and enable me to pursue better research.


*You can actually find kindness in Luker’s index, on page 318.

Work Cited:

Luker, K. 2010. Salsa dancing into the social sciences. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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