The truth is out there
Writing about web page http://ronnirose.wordpress.com/2012/07/08/the-truth-is-out-there-2/
I’m not sure if it’s just me. Does anyone slightly dread the moment that someone asks them ‘what’s your PhD about’ whilst looking expectantly at you to enliven them with details of an enthralling project and enlighten them with the benefit of your wisdom.
‘Erm, I’m researching the Psychology of Creativity’ has been my initial attempt at a response. Inevitably this leads to more questions.
‘That’s interesting,’ comes the usual response ‘what aspect of creativity in particular?’
And then I’m faced with a couple of choices. Do I talk about the theoretical roots of the research; the work socio-cultural psychology research on collaborative creativity and creative work; the importance of situating creative work in a broader social and cultural context?
Or is it better to tell people about the empirical focus of the research – the focus on how amateur crafters (in particular knitters and crocheters) develop their identities and creative practice through Web 2.0 interactions (such as blogs and social networks). Or simply, how knitters and crocheters use the internet to communicate about their work.
I usually opt for the latter approach as the first generally tends to alienate most people I speak to. I can understand that. Truth be told lots of the socio-cultural psychology literature can alienate me at times and I’ve been reading it for years – it should be an old friend by now. And talking about the practical focus of the project genuinely engages people (I think) – it’s talking about things that people know something about, whether that’s practising a particular craft or using blog sites or social media. And I find something quite rewarding about that. It leads to more of a conversation and less of a mini-lecture which wasn’t invited in the first place.
But it taking this approach often results in a question for my own internal monologue. ‘Nice crafty stuff and a bit of messing about on the internet, all very well and good and that but why isthis a suitable social phenomena for a piece of research?’
Hmmmm. I’m not necessarily going to answer that one right now. Partly because I’d be giving everything away too soon, but mostly because I’m still pondering that one. The slightly unnerving part for me is that talking about my research, whether in conversation or in a blog, gives it a lifeand allows it to take on a form other than that which exists in my head or in any writing which I have done as part of my PhD. And readers will make of this what they will, bringing their own assumptions and providing their own interpretations. That is an exciting and a scary prospect at the same time. The truth is out there … somewhere.
Let’s just say for now it’s a PhD in knitting, crochet and the use of the internet – or ‘spinning yarns and webs’ as I’ve decided to call the blog. I quite like the sound of that.
2 comments by 2 or more people
It took most of my PhD to perfect the art of a 2-sentence summary of my research! I think it’s important to choose key words carefully – I tend to say “I work on mobility in the novel” and most people think “social mobility” when I mean travel; so now I try to say “journeys”. Also important is having a follow-up couple of sentences for when the response is “oh that’s really interesting”... followed by awkward silence (I’m guilty of doing this too!). Like you I go for the “softer” approach that is likely to engage or strike a chord with something the person already knows a bit about. Blogging is good practice for summarising and feeling comfortable talking about your research to the wider world; but in time you have to overcome the slight panic that strikes when you meet someone who says “I read your blog”!
oh, and your research /does/ sound really interesting!
13 Jul 2012, 15:02
Thanks Charlotte – that’s really encouraging. I guess it’s a work in progress – the blog and the research, that is.
17 Jul 2012, 20:48
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