[xmca] Point of view in writing

From: Mike Cole <lchcmike who-is-at gmail.com>
Date: Thu Aug 16 2007 - 08:36:54 PDT

Hi Kimberly (and Paul) (and)

I started this with a new header because the previous notes were carrying
very long string of prior notes in them. Something to
do with problems Bruce wrote about yesterday I think.

If there is disagreement about the disutilities of writing in pseudo third
person, as if objective, fashion grovelling on our bellies, handcuffed,
etc, in order to publish someone will have to defend such forms of behavior.

My own view is the the method of explication should fit the subject matter
being discussed. You can get a feel for how I mix the two genres
in Cultural Psychology.

In so far as I am using method of long term participant observation, which
is one approach I use to some of the topics I work on, I find that a
potential pitfall of the first person approach arises if one fails to create
systematic fieldnotes of one's activities, interpretations, guesses about
what going on, etc. from the beginning of the research up to the point where
one is writing the account. This hit me most forcefully when
trying to account for three years of work creating and trying to sustain
afterschool activities at four sites here near UCSD. At the end of the
period I wrote up an account of what I thought had occurred. I believed it.
Then I listened to audiotapes of discussions I had had with key
players three years earlier during which we planned what we would be doing
and what we thought had to be done to make the work
successful. I was stunned in listening to the tapes, to learn how much my
retrospective account had selectively forgotten lots of events,
lots of pointers (had I been able to interpret them properly) to upcomping
problems and changes.

So, when using first person approaches, its nice to have lots of bits of
"objectified" materials, including one's own fieldnotes and notes
to colleagues (email is great in this respect) as a materialized record of
what you USED to think, or what you USED to believe was important, etc.

And, in addition, including information that does not arise from sources you
helped to create is also useful as a way of triangulating and
being self critical.

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Received on Thu Aug 16 08:38 PDT 2007

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