INF1240 Blogs vs. Kristen Luker & the Canadian Coast Guard’s VHF Radio Frequency Channel Structure

Hello internet and those surfing it,

I would like to thank you for allowing me the courtesy to briefly explain to you why I am here -rye in hand- looking to mingle.

Mingle you ask? …Yes, mingle.

You see, Kristine Luker (2010) has brought to my attention that research is somewhat akin to a cocktail party (65). Through this metaphor she describes scholarly research as an event to which one must cordially imbibe a drink of your choice and cruise the room for a few souls that are of a common mind. The tricky part being: showing up late and all the while shifting the conversation to your advantage (66-67).

While I am always up for a gala of wits, this blog structure we have been given does not allow for as she puts it “drifting around the room, hoping to strike up a conversation with some interesting people” (Luker 2010, 65). Now for those of you associated with this blog, please do not take offense, this has nothing to do with you, but rather the lack of choice we have in properly aligning ourselves with groups of similar interests. We may very well all share an incredible amount of interests. That said, if we look at Luker’s cocktail model, this blog is comparable to walking into a blind date. We have had no chance to walk around the room sampling the conversations before we butt in.

Thinking about this on the bus the other night, I thought back to my summers on Georgian Bay as a kid on my Dad’s 1981, 36 foot CS36 sailboat, and his instructions on using the VHF radio. Without going into too much detail, there are about 90 radio frequencies (or channels) used on (V)ery (H)igh (F)requency radios for communication out on the lakes and coastal waters in Canada. Some are strictly weather broadcasts, others are coast guard only and some can be used for a quick chat with another boater to boast about that 6 pound bass you just caught. (For a detailed description of user etiquette and channel uses see: http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/sf01011.html#sect8

While most channel specifications will vary from region to region, Channel 16 is the go to channel to hear what others are talking about. This is the channel that most will send out their request(s) to either another boater, marina or the coast guard, after which point they will agree on another more suitable channel dedicated to their specific needs/conversation.

Channel 16 is to Luker what these blogs are lacking: the ability to browse broadly then communicate more precisely. The VHF channel structure, while much, much older than blogging, still allows for an organized and effective means of “drifting around the room” to know which group may be the most applicable to you. I guess what I am getting at is the a priori notion of groups structured around specific topics in a purposeful manner. The structure of the “blog group” as it is now in INF1240 does not allow for any cocktail party mingling or channel 16 surfing. I do believe these blogs are a great attempt to integrate technology and the ideas of sharing knowledge, but it stops short in helping us, the bloggers/hopeful scholars the chance to mingle meaningfully in the way Luker had in mind. (Granted, I could surf the other blogs and comment all I want, but as blogging on your assigned blog is a graded requirement in the course I probably will not.  If credit was given to any comments/posts on any approved course blog however, this post would gracefully slip into oblivion and become obsolete.)

For those of you who just scrolled down to this final paragraph without reading the rest, let me try and sum it up for you… and those patient souls who actually did. I believe we (INF1240) may have to look at our blog assignment and consider another format in the future. Lessons can be learned from Luker and the VHF radio communication structure described above. If as new scholars we are expected to try and find the group or conversation we are most adept at participating in, why box in the conversation? Why can we not find a way to enable a broad open line for communication (channel 16) from which we can take the conversation further on more appropriate channels/blogs once our interests are peaked? Is a blog group the best approach? In my humble opinion, it is not. But in the mean time, if you want to get in touch, I’ll be on Channel 16,

Richard Laurin

Works Cited
Luker, Kristen. 2010. Salsa Dancing into the Social Sciences: Research in an Age of Info-glut. Cambrigde, MA: Harvard University Press.

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