Thursday, December 08, 2005

graduate studies: 1 semester down, no closer to a thesis :)

today i had my last classes of the semester. wow, one semester almost done (short of a problem set and a project due next week). it's been an interesting 4 months.

i've been thinking a lot about what i actually want to research and explore going forward in my phd. i'll be honest: of the 3 classes i took this semester, i found my theory class the least interesting. some of the theorems and ideas were cool, but i didn't feel excited about any of the ideas -- nothing leapt out at me and said "study me, you like me!"

the class that actually stimulated me the most, and really excited me was not even in the computer science department. it was a class on participatory media. "what's that?", you ask.. well, we were trying to define it in the class. But here's a description of the class taken from the private wiki:

The Net is a platform for participatory media. The recent and ongoing emergence of inexpensive, worldwide, many-to-many publishing and communication media, built on the platform of Internet and wireless communication technologies, has already influenced both politics and journalism. This class explores political activism in the Net context, as well as key aspects such as mass media, political communications, and smart mobs: emerging forms of technology-enabled collective actions. We will read and discuss issues, theories and real world examples from the US, Philippines, Korea, Mexico, China, and elsewhere.

I became really interested in how people are connecting with each other now, especially for political causes, and I did a mini-study of China. This got me thinking about the importance of building technologies and systems for the public good.

Finally, today in my systems class the profs spoke about their research, the research community, and what inspires and drives them. mothy made a point which really resonated with me: he spoke about building systems that interface between areas, turn ideas on their heads, and at the same time do something new that helps move the community forward (NOTE: maybe he didn't say exactly this, but that's what i started thinking about).

why did this resonate with me? well, i guess i've realized that i have real interests in developing systems, and to connect this with my participatory media class, i also have a strong interest in connecting these technolgoies with public, or mayb political, movements.

now how do i mesh this all together?


Neha said...

you are meshing it! take more systems classes, and build systems that enable particpation in media :) you can specialize and lean in whatever directions you find interesting.

shawnkhan said...

Meshing everything together is hard, and I am not really sure where you should go.. Research every possible source that you can find anywhere..

Flash Mobs are a cool way people connect for public or political reasons. As for the media part, that I am not too sure about how to add that in..