I will tie the final theme in Meta Be Bold, "publicly performed symbiosis, " into a discussion of this project's past and its potential future. The two relevant codes here are:

Performance: Sections illustrative of the signalling of roles (for instance, through the use of lingo) and/or the effects of constantly working and speaking in a public space as opposed to a private one.

Effect: Sections illustrative of the impact of this mini-project on any of the individual people who’ve touched or been touched by it.

This blog post is a public performance during which I'm gradually stepping down the scaffolding of working you through my analysis and theme-creation process. If you want more on scaffolding, you can choose to go off on exploring that thread -- for instance, reading page 5 of this paper on cognitive apprenticeships -- or you can continue on the path of reading this blog post. Or both, or neither. Let's recap where we've come from, because it's been a crazy ride.

What has the process been? Here's one way of looking at it.

  1. A homework assignment of doing a mini-research project for Advanced Qualitative Research Methods in Education was given to Mel.
  2. Sumana was contacted, and logistics for doing data collection were set up.
  3. Data was collected (an interview, an observation, and a document, although these labels were somewhat arbitrarily given to each piece of data because that's what the assignment asked for). A memo was written for each.
  4. The data was reviewed, discussed, and analyzed by a research group of graduate students in the class.
  5. Themes emerged from the data and were written down in the blog posts preceding this one.
  6. These steps were written out in the passive voice, as is a common practice in the academic writing world (alas).
And here's another way of looking at it.
  1. Sumana was invited to give a keynote speech at the Open Source Bridge conference, accepted the invitation, and started working on her keynote, titled "Be Bold." Her friend Mel thought this was fantastic, and wanted to support this effort however she could.
  2. Mel was simultaneously given an assignment to do a small research project on a topic of her choice, and wanted to see if her assignment could help Sumana's keynote. Sumana (who has been very supportive of Mel's graduate studies) similarly wanted to help out.
  3. Our powers combined; we got together when we could, working on this as we could, making sure we repurposed bits that were useful for each of us (Sumana got some prodding to outline her keynote, Mel got some data to turn in).
  4. Along the way, others were drawn into the project; Mel's research group from class started to dive into the online spaces we'd created to negotiate this and began to contribute in new and interesting ways, adding their insights to the mix.
  5. Now you, as a reader of these blog posts, have been drawn in, in a different and (so far) tiny way. Welcome!
And here's another way of looking at it.
  1. In the beginning, the Universe was filled homogeneously and isotropically with an incredibly high energy density and huge temperatures and pressures and was very rapidly expanding and cooling.
  2. Approximately 10−37 seconds into the expansion, aphase transition caused a cosmic inflation, during which the Universe grew exponentially.
  3. ...and so forth. In other words, this project only has a "beginning" and an "end" and a "process" inasmuch as we see fit to describe it as having those things. However, sometimes it's useful to do so -- so we do.


What's happened to the people?

This project has affected (albeit in tiny ways) multiple people who've come in contact with it. Here are a few examples.

  • Sumana now has an outline of her talk written, and potentially more eyes to help her fill it in and reflect upon it before she delivers the keynote towards the end of this month, including an audience that would probably otherwise not have encountered her work (graduate students in engineering education and communications). She's also been at least somewhat amused ("I laughed aloud in glee several times") by watching herself be analyzed, which makes me smile.
  • I (Mel) fulfilled a course (and graduation) requirement and got some practice trying out her "sea legs" for her unorthodox research process and mentality. I've now got a (more) complete and digestible example of radically transparent research to show people, and a better understanding of how my technique needs to mature (short version: a lot).
  • My research group is thoroughly confused. I say this with a grin -- I like my research group and am thankful for their willingness to experiment! This seems to have affected their thinking about their own future research ("This was a very interesting interview and it really has made me rethink potential interview formats and styles") though it's too early to tell what sorts of effects these interactions will ripple out to have.

Where might we go next?

I can only speak for myself; other people can take this information different places (it's all licenced CC-BY-SA).

If I were continuing this as a research project, I'd be actively getting responses to these blog posts I've just made and asking people to help with the next pass through the data (which now includes all the analysis I've just done). We'd probably end up concentrating on a second iteration of the codes, since so many codes overlapped into themes; perhaps we'd take the themes as our second set of codes and see where things landed if we used that for our next pass. We'd also probably do a literature review, which I didn't have time to do for such a short project. I would personally want to pause and look at our methodology; what are we doing, what have we been doing, and is there anything we want to change about our process? I would also probably try to lead the creation of a more formal write-up more positioned within and towards the academic space for the next iteration of this project, as this version of the writeup (in the form of blog posts) is very much done within the space of the online FOSS world, with FOSS community members as its audience.

This would be the tip of the tip of the iceberg; I'd say that as a "research project," it feels about 3% "publication-done" to me right now, where "publication-done" is "something I'd be happy submitting to scholarly journals in my academic field. In order to do that, we'd have to pass it through IRB, I would likely be going back to Sumana multiple times and talk with her about writing participant memos...

However, I'm not continuing this as a research project (for now), and that's not the type of "done" I'm looking for. I wanted to pass a class; I hope I've accomplished that. Now I want to help with the second kind of "done" I care about, which is helping Sumana with her keynote; once she delivers it, that will be a second type of finishing.

Therefore, I will consider these blog posts as my "product" -- for the time being. And I will now ask: Sumana, what's the most helpful thing we can do to lend a hand with your keynote? After I print, staple, and hand in these blog posts for my homework assignment, your talk is the next step I care about on this right now.

The last post will be a simple index of all of these posts and artifacts in the series.