I've had a chance to review exactly what this blog has become, and how its unique writing format has allowed certain liberties in my research of China's digital totalitarianism and George Orwell's 1984.
I spent a great deal of my research delving through recent articles and online discussions. As I was primarily concerned with the most recent of Chinese events, I found an abundance of relevant articles concerning the last year of history, often less. Though I did expand my limits to include a few relevant articles which were, by my standards, a bit too outdated, working on an electronic medium allowed my to restrict my research to the most current issues. If I had tried to focus on printed sources, I would have missed many events which proved pivotal to the current relevance I hoped to convey through this blog. In doing so, however, I did cut out many traditional sources which could have created a greater sense of balance for my thesis, but there are always compromises to be made.
Aside from the issue stemming from differing research methods, I really enjoyed the experience of researching and shaping a thesis in the public eye. I have never been in a situation quite like this, and felt a bit exposed at the beginning. I really did enjoy the opportunity, however, to try out some ideas, receive feedback from my peers, and approach the next post with a greater understanding of both my audience, their suggestions, their concerns, and their questions. It aids in the writing process to know the thoughts for whom you are writing.
As well as researching in the public eye, by "finished" product is there as well. Not rotting on my hard drive or on my desk somewhere. It is public for anyone with interest, and there is my contribution.
Writing a blog created a new sense of mind-set, however. Some posts may seem out of left-field and not quite connected to the main body, but it is still a relevant thought, all the same. I have a few posts which do not connect entirely to the main thesis, but it was a valid thought that I had the flexibility to record. Not every thought makes perfect sense, and I really enjoyed writing in a medium which allowed for some sense of liberalism.
I also really enjoyed the media available to a blog. Papers all look the same, especially if all are formatted in MLA or APA. A blog allows for the integration of pictures and videos which can often do wonders to instill curiosity, mood, and share greater depths of information. There is danger that the literary aspect, the text, can suffer as a picture or video clip may be used to compensate, but I still found blogs to positively expand the methods of communication. My classmate Neal, for example, would have had a difficult time elaborating his thesis without the use of video clips and paintings, as he examined the role of landscape in film. Text-descriptions would have been too distant and obscure to explain what a 60-second video clip could depict.
In terms of educational outcomes, I have examined the outcomes outlined by my university and find this mode of research to fit the bill quite well. This blog, more than anything else, has made me want to continue in my research. I have been encouraged to seek out experts and specialists in the fields I am interested. I do not need to be enrolled in a particular class to pursue these interests. Now that I have a greater understanding of online research, the gift economy, and methods of communication, I feel confident to continue researching and reaching out once my enrolled classes come to an end. This, I believe, is life-long learning and well as personally-directed learning. I have finally come to a degree of competency with the blogosphere to feel confident enough to continue and see what else I can find.
I have been most impressed with my other classmates, specifically Ben, Amanda, and Neal, in their proactive use of their blogs. They have reached out to individual bloggers, specialists, and entire communities to take their education and experience to the next level. This experience has really been education on a new level, one which integrates skills needed beyond the classroom.