Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Ross Parry's recommendation to proceed

My dissertation pack arrived today, complete with instructions and guidelines on writing my dissertation, and, most importantly, a detailed response to my proposal by Ross Parry. This concluded, crucially, with the very welcome sentence 'I recommend the applicant and this project for Masters research' - phew!

Ross described my proposed subject as 'a timely and potentially important piece of reserach into how museums might use wikis'. He noted that 'there is potential for genuine innovation within this project' - which was very encouraging!

He feels that my decision to focus on Wikis as a specific aspect of Web 2.0, and The British Postal Museum & Archive's (BPMA)'s Wiki specially as a good one as it limits the topic and stops it from becoming unmanageable.

Ross suggests that during my preliminary reading around the subject, I should seek to refine my research questions into one single, challenging question. As an example, (but not suggesting I should necessarily use this one) he puts forward 'Can Wikis really work for museums? The practical, technical and conceptual challenges of Web 2.0 technology for the BPMA'.

In addition he advised me to 'marshal more systematically [the] key ideas and themes.' e.g. the practical, conceptual and technical themes in the example title.

As recommended reading, Ross has suggested the online proceedings of the 'Museums and the Web' conferences, especially those of the last few years.

In terms of data gathering, Ross thinks that I need to get a clear idea pretty quickly of what I'm trying to achieve with the project as this will affect whether or not, and how much I need to gather user evaluation data etc.

Luckily Ross didn't foresee there being any ethical risks to my project (which is why I got my proposal back earlier than some people I think). He in facts suggests that I could even consider looking into the ethics of wikis (specifically user-generated content).

So there we are, permission to start on the project that will no doubt dominate much of my waking (and perhaps some of my sleeping) life for the next six months. I'm taking a week off from my MA this week. I'm still recovering from the final essay and I need some time to clean my flat, do some washing, and turn my head around! I expect I might do the odd bit of reading here and there but mostly I'm having a rest.

I'm actually quite excited about starting this project though. Unlike the prescribed essays all the way through the MA, it's a subject that I've been able to choose myself, and can shape into whatever I want to make it. It's a topic I'm becoming increasingly interested in and I feel quite fired by it. Whether or not I still feel like that by the end of August will be another question - if you're interested in finding out then keep reading! :-)

Next week I'll start doing some reading. I hope to comment on and summarise it as I go along on here.

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