January 22, 2006

the market for news - discursive formations

A little tangential to my topic (but still interesting) is an article by Harvard economics profs Andrei Shleifer and Sendhil Mullainathan in American Economic Review called "The Market for News." The basic gist is that people read news sources that are in tune with their own worldview. Moreover, competition in the news industry increases bias and doesn't increase accuracy. "Newspapers locate themselves in the product space through their reporting strategies (ie how they slant)."

So, if you read only to the left or right, your views will become more polarized - and less accurate. If you read conscientiously across the political spectrum, your views will be more balanced: "the beliefs of the conscientious reader become more accurate than they are with homeogeneous readers....Heterogeneity plays a more important role for accuracy in media than does competition."

Sounds relatively obvious, but worth thinking about in terms of how information is presented through discursive formations and how it is read. I'll look for the article.

Posted by otto0114 at 2:52 PM

January 19, 2006

organizing the work of spring

I made a concept map (new program: Mind Manager; I only have about 9 days left on the trial) of all the things I have to do this semester, broken down by category:
1) establish/maintain contacts (this involves writing emails in Polish);
2) reading more theoretical background and writing the lit review;
3) trip logistics for next summer;
4) IRB approvals;
5) planning and actually doing a part of the discourse analysis;
6) preparing the short dissertation proposal for the Grad School; and
7) preparing the longer dissertation proposal for my committee.

Other things: work 2 jobs; write fellowship applications; prepare for a conference in March; prepare 2 articles for publication.

Egads. I am exhausted already. Is it better to skip around and do parts of things, or to concentrate on a task until it's complete? For me, I think the former, since I am a multi-tasker and possessed of a wandering mind.

Posted by otto0114 at 8:52 PM

January 7, 2006

systems obsessions

I sort of hung around all day yesterday not getting any purchase on a plan for dissertation work for the spring. I did download a 21-day trial of a concept mapping software called Mind Manager, though, and played with it for awhile. (I used concept mapping on cut-up pieces of brown paper bags to get me through the theories of urban entrepreneurialism for my prelims.)

Another part of the dissertation fantasy (see entry for November 27 below) is that if I can only develop the proper organizational systems (bibliographic, notetaking, concept mapping, etc.), the whole thing will fall beautifully into place and more or less "write itself." I am so tired of having the electronic equivalent of a bunch of post-it notes stuck to my desk that I'm just desperate for some sort of meta-organization.

But how to organize? Should the map be by chapter? By research subtopic? By clusters of questions? Could those systems be integrated somehow in a single map, or should there be multiple, overlapping maps? Can maps be cross-indexed and cross-referenced? How much work would it be to find and read through all the e-post-its that are lurking in my hard drive and reorganize them into some sort of coherent system? What about all the paper copies of reading lists and such?

Maybe it would help to work in my more-instrumental way and think about tasks that need to be done, and when they need to be done by. I am more of a build-it-up-from-the-details person than a global thinker so perhaps I'm just going at this from the wrong angle.

Full report on that shift later.

Posted by otto0114 at 10:39 AM