DailyAfirmation (dailyafirmation) wrote,

Assistance vs. assistant, Wordplay, and a beautiful walk...

I met with Dr. Swarts today at Helios, and about five minutes into our conversation, it occurred to me that he was looking for my assistance in his research as a participant, not as an "assistant." I am more than a little embarrassed that I read his e-mail subject line, which was "Research Assistance," as "Research Assistant."

While I was still delusional, I'd asked him if there was any way to get credit for the "assistantship," as I could use two credit hours of "independent study" (because I took a one-hour course last semester) to avoid having to take a three-hour class -- in order to satisfy my remaining MS requirements. He said, "Well, funny you should mention that, because after I finish collecting my data, I could use someone to help me analyze it, and we can probably arrange you doing that during a course I might teach in the Spring of '07."

At any rate, I am happy to be a participant in the study at this point, and if that's all it turns out to be, that'll be fine. Helping as an assistant later in the study would be great experience for me, and an opportunity I would welcome.

So this is the gist of his study:

I am about to conduct a non-invasive study of the writing practices of technical communicators.  Here are a few details:

Although the larger research project is about mobile information technology, the research that I am contacting you about is not.  The issues are related, however.

My research is in the area of mobile information technologies, especially when they are used for writing and communication.  As part of a broader program of research on issues of mobility, I have been studying the ways people re-purpose or "remix" parts of texts to create new ones.

The hardware and interface designs of many mobile information technologies create constraints on the way users collect and assemble information in "text" form.  Moreover, because these devices afford mobility, users frequently create texts for use in changing context by using fragments of texts that come from sources designed for different uses.

My preliminary research has indicated that there may be optimal sizes and types of information fragments that can be effectively re-purposed or remixed across contexts.  My current research project is to look at the ways that people create texts by using and re-purposing parts of existing texts.

He didn't share any of his hypotheses on what he expects to find at this point, as I'm going to be a participant, and he doesn't want to bias me in any way.

If anyone reading this journal "re-purposes text" in their work, and wouldn't mind helping Dr. Swarts out, post a comment here, and I'll hook the two of you up.

Basically, he would provide you with a screen capturing/recording program that you would turn on before you started working, which would record what you do by creating an .avi (movie) file of your actions. When you're done, you would end the capture program, and send him the .avi file, which he would analyze to study how you re-purpose the text.  It would be that sort of process.

He will have confidentially agreements to sign if your work involves confidential data (e.g., you guys who are doing technical writing on yet-unreleased IBM product manuals). Hint. Hint.

I left Helios at about 5:45 to meet Robert at the Carolina Theater for a 7:15 screening.

I stopped at the drive-through ATM machine at the Coastal Federal Credit Union off Page Road, and deposited a $35 check from my parents (for their cell phone service), and a $200 check from Jeanie-baby for doing her taxes. I hate making ATM deposits at drive-through ATMs.

I intended to stop at Quiznos to grab a quick sandwich before the movie, but found it closed. There was a Chinese place right next door to it, so I stopped in there.

It took me longer than I wanted it to to get an order of Sesame Chicken (with broccoli and steamed rice), and I rushed through half of it before asking for a to-go box for the rest.

I met Robert at our usual parking spot for the Carolina Theater, which is up the road in the RBC Centura parking lot.

We saw Wordplay tonight, and both absolutely loved it. If you do crossword puzzles at all, you will love this movie.

Movie Synopsis: WORDPLAY focuses on the man most associated with crossword puzzles, New York Times puzzle editor and NPR Puzzle Master, Will Shortz.  Director Patrick Creadon introduces us to his passionate hero, and to the inner workings of his brilliant and often hilarious contributors, including syndicated puzzle creator Merl Reagle.  Along the way, the film presents interviews with celebrity crossword puzzlers such as Bill Clinton, Bob Dole, Jon Steward, Ken Burns, Mike Mussina and the Indigo Girls, who reveal their process, insight, and the allure of the game.  In addition to deconstructing this uniquely American institution, WORDPLAY takes us through the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament where almost five hundred competitors battle it out for the title "Crossword Champ" and show their true colors along the way.

As a perfect promotional gimmick, when you purchased your ticket, they gave you a postcard-like (in both size and card stock quality paper) crossword puzzle, with a little pencil stuck in it. It was a puzzle by Merl Reagle, whom you become quite intimate with during the movie.

Needless to say, when we entered the theater, with about 5 minutes until it was scheduled to start, everyone in the place was "heads down" into their puzzles.

After the movie, at our cars, I gave Robert my leftover Sesame Chicken dinner for his lunch tomorrow, along with three crossword puzzles I had scrounged from the Helios recycle bin. Two were from the N&O, and one was from none-other-than The New York Times, edited by none-other-than the celebrated Will Shortz.

I stopped by Helios before going to Show Tunes Night at Flex, and found Steve N. sitting and watching live entertainment on the Bamboo Patio, which I'd never seen before.  The entertainment has always been inside whenever I've seen it.

There was this young kid, maybe 22-25, playing acoustic guitar, and at times a harmonica that was held in place by one of those contraptions that allows you to attach it to your guitar, or other instrument, I suppose, so that you can be a one-man-band.

He played this one song that was basically to women (fag hags?) about their gay friend, which was amusing to me, at least the first time he played it.

Steve and I had a nice chat, and after about 45 minutes, he left, and I headed over to Flex.

It was fairly dead in the place, and I had one bourbon and diet, which as of Tuesday, or maybe Wednesday, I can't remember, has gone up from $3.25 to $3.50.

Van, Adam, Shawn, and Josh (recently returned from Russia with Love) were in the "VIP lounge," watching the show tunes on the "console TV," and totally shit-faced. Well, at least Van and Shawn were. :-)

I left there at about 11:00, and once home, walked around the block for 45 minutes listening to The Verdi Requiem, which you may recall are tunes to be played at my memorial service.

It was a beautiful night to be walking. Cool temperatures, and low humidity. I love my life.
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