Week two #sciwrite

It’s time for┬ámy second week update for #sciwrite. Week two was a mixed bag: I had some success but I also didn’t complete one of my goals. Several distractions have made themselves known.

Success side of the ledger: Literature review for P2. I read some papers that I had already found, and found some additional relevant papers and read them as well. As a result, I do need to tinker with the existing draft of the literature review for that paper, but the overall structure still works. The additional pieces are more in the way of fleshing out some sections, or making some points more prominent.

Failure side of the ledger: the statistical review for P1 remains undone, although I did at least pull out my data and look at it. Part of the problem is that when I created the survey which is the source of my data for P1, there are certain questions that I could have worded in such a way as to give more precise answers. For example, one of the things I’m interested in looking at is the use of print vs. electronic sources of information by birders; i.e., is one more dominant than the other? Because of the way some of my questions were phrased, some of the answers I got are a little ambiguous. Also, some respondents answered the questions with a greater level of precision (a title of a book) than others (“books”). This makes coding the responses a little tricky.

Distractions: a good day out on Saturday when I got to careen around south Jersey photographing historical sites and seeing four species of dove in Cape May. A webpage I’m working on about patterned brick houses in New Jersey. The Life and Literature conference on Twitter. Flickr. Ordinary mundane stuff.

Oh, and there’s Paper 3 (P3). This was another paper I wrote for my MLIS coursework. It takes four different works on bird identification and examines how the language of identification texts has evolved since the 19th century. I pulled it out and reread it last week. I’m not crazy about it, but it does have potential for publication and I know what journal I would submit it to first. I looked at that journal’s submission guidelines and discovered that I would have to lengthen the paper by a few hundred words before submitting it. Although I’m somewhat tempted to add it to the #sciwrite challenge, I think it’s best to concentrate on P1 and P2, then come back to P3 later. It’ll wait.

My goal for this week is to do the statistical analysis for P1 (again). I would also like to start the revision of P2; I’ll probably begin with the lit review section and then attack the rest.

Week one #sciwrite

On 30 October, Anne Jefferson (aka @highlyanne) of the geology blog Highly Allochthonous posted a writing challenge. She wanted to get some writing done and submitted for publication. This being November (the Official Month of Crazy Writing Challenges), she opened up the fun to any others who wanted to participate. The deadline is the first Sunday in December and most (but not all) participants are working on academic papers for publication. The Twitter hashtag is #sciwrite.

Although I graduated with my MLIS in May 2010, I have several papers from my coursework that I want to submit for publication. The #sciwrite challenge seemed like a good opportunity to toss aside procrastination and distraction and actually get something done on those papers. My goal for the first Sunday in December is to see two of my papers in review by then: either with one of the instructors for whose class I originally wrote them, or (if things go really well) a journal.

Paper one (henceforth to be known as P1) is about the information behavior of birders. I’ve already started revising and updating this paper, and I know what journal is my first choice for submission. Paper two (P2) is about the Flickr Commons project, and uses publicly available statistics in an attempt to quantify some interactions between Flickr members and the cultural institutions that participate in the Flickr Commons. I haven’t decided where to submit this one yet.

I set low goals for Week One because I was going to be away for the weekend. Even so, I didn’t complete Week One’s goal until today. Oops. Anyhow, P1 was not touched. My goal was to reread P2 and see how well it held up. I was pleasantly surprised. The prose is a little on the dull side, but that’s not a huge problem. I need to update the literature review. I should probably make the charts look a little better. Other than that, however, the analysis and discussion seem pretty clear and solid.

Week Two’s goals will be to check and expand the statistical analysis of P1, and to find and read potentially relevant papers for P2’s lit review. I’ll let you know how I did next Sunday.

Another goal of mine for this challenge, apart from revising my student papers, is to use the challenge to get back into a more regular blogging routine. Hence this post and the others that will follow.

If you are participating in any crazy writing challenge this month, good luck!

Bruce Sterling and the archivists

What happens when the archivists visit a living cyberpunk SF author and start carting his papers away. There are many good lines in this story, but this is the one that sticks with me:

Scholars won’t find any digital artifacts—no hard drives or floppy disks, for instance, in the material he’s given the Ransom Center so far. “I did not have any electronic documents to give them. Not even one,” he says. “I’ve never believed in the stability of electronic archives, so I really haven’t committed to that stuff.”

“There are forms of media which are just inherently unstable, and the attempt to stabilize them is like the attempt to go out and stabilize the corkboard at the laundromat,” he adds. “You can get into big trouble that way.”

Those who tout digital permanence, he says, “need to go talk to the archivists.”

H/T Boing Boing.