Assignment 2: Comparing ClicksThe words are not rhymed; it's the typical Negro pattern, the same line repeated three times with a sort of flip line on the end; and the change is in the tune rather than in the words, for the most part.For the last assignment, you clicked your way through a variety of documents and selected a few that you found interesting and exciting. Now for today’s assignment, I would like you to spend some time looking at work by your fellow Va’ers and to see what they deemed note-worthy.
--Zora Neale Hurston, describing the blues song "Po' Gal"
The purpose is to see what you can learn about yourself and what you can help others learn about themselves by comparing search procedures and selection lists.
So for today, first read all the "discovery" posts by your fellow VAers and post on your observations:
- Did any of them match your top list?
- Is there a common theme running through their top lists?
- Do any of these discoveries make you see this whole site in a more complete and complex way?
- Looking at their lists, do you recognize any blind spots in your own searching or any intriguing paths that you wished you had followed?
- Would you change your own list as a result of seeing what others have found?
Next, choose one fellow VAer to analyze in depth (please look first for someone who as yet has not had a reply post):
- Read that person's entire blog.
- What do you see? Look for a thread, a pattern in the person's searching. How was that person moving through the archive? What "story" do you see developing in the blog?
- Give that person feedback in a reply post. What is his or her blog about? Can you label the lens (that is, the perhaps unconscious mental mechanism that causes us to see in a certain way) that he or she seemed to be using to select material? Can you name what you see happening?
- Actively question your person's blog -- Why do you think he or she chose particular clicks? Why did he or she avoid others? Are there certain types of clicks that are evident -- for example, did he or she spend a large amount of time with one section of this site and only cursorily with others? Spot these moments in a blog and identify them. Then spend a little time exploring possible reasons why you think that he or she lingered at some places and quickly passed through others.
- Bottom line: help that person be more self-conscious about himself or herself as a researcher by what you see underlying the blog, while at the same time thinking about how you are the same or different.
Finally, in a separate post, reflect in a paragraph or two on what your experience in this assignment leads you to think about in regard to the writing of history:
- What happens when a number of people look at the same archive of primary material?
- What lessons can be drawn from this for understanding history?