Literature as Waymarkers: A New Series of Shorter Posts

By | May 11, 2021

Yesterday’s post was almost 2000 words long, I might as well just send it off to a journal. To find a compromise between the facilitation of thinking and writing that blogging offers me, and an optimal length of writing and extracting content references, I’m exploring a new approach. It fits where I’m at now in my mental landscape – the vast complexity of research and insights have begun crystallizing themselves into more narrow focused points to be pondered or shaped into individual journal articles.

Now I want to write shorter posts – either focusing on one paper or framework or concept, or one scholar’s work as it relates to mine. The concern remains that I might get carried away and write a few thousand words anyway… let’s see what happens.

Slide from research presentation at the Frontiers seminar for Small Grant Competition Winners 2008, The iBoP Asia Project, Jakarta, Indonesia, March 2010

In the next few posts, I plan to do the following, in no particular order but my mood and interest that day:

  1. Jump into some of Meagher’s recent papers for a deeper analysis and discussion around the points she raises about the way formal economic actors seek to transform existing informal economic systems for profit maximization rather than the tangible value co-creation they claim to be pursuing.
  2. Which led me to Vargo & Lusch’s conceptualization of service dominant logic as a space to explore further within which one could conceivably contextualize the conceptual discoveries of the informal trade & commercial system as prevalent in the eastern African region. It looks promising but I’ll have to dive deeper into it to evaluate its relevance, or whether it has the flexibility for adaptation, as I’ve seen some papers do for their own areas of focus.
  3. Definitely use Blomberg & Karasti’s paper on positioning ethnography within participatory design as a jumping off point to ponder my own attempts in the recent two fieldwork projects – I was definitely influenced by their paper when I first began outlining the early stage participant selection process for last year’s remote resilience project which took a systems approach to the last mile of fresh produce supply i.e. that is, there was no point focusing on individual vegetable vendors without also including a parallel sequence of workshops for their suppliers and wholesalers since the resilience of one group was dependent on the other and vice versa and of both if the flows of perishables were to be strengthened.
  4. Something something around the topic of how to unpack the designer’s ‘magic’ of synthesizing narratives from vast amounts of data – see Kolko’s abductive reasoning and sensemaking in the synthesis phase of the design process (Kolko, 2010a, 2010b referenced in context here) which occurs within masses of post its and paper – into a methodological process outline that is credible for a high quality empirical journal article. In my opinion, there’s value in exploring the designerly approach (Cross, 1982 of course, & various) to sensemaking and problem framing, based on design’s user research (see Sanders, 2006 referenced in context here), that may not be uncovered in other disciplinary approaches to qualitative data analysis.
  5. Which leads me to pondering the differences between ethnomethodology for exploring new contexts of study eg. the early days of the emergent sociotechnical system created organically by the rapid adoption of mobile phones (Blom, Chipchase, & Lehikoinen, 2005) and exploratory research that includes an underlying agenda of theory building (see Stebbins, 2001). This might also include exploration of what is theory building anyway and the difference between conceptual and theoretical frameworks.
  6. others, as yet unknown.

I have no idea how I’ll categorize and collate these posts but I’ll let the process drive the design of actions. Just writing this down has helped me immensely, which was the original function of picking up the blog again and going out to look for the music of my keyboard.


References with links:

Blom, J., Chipchase, J., & Lehikoinen, J. (2005). Contextual and cultural challenges for user mobility research. Communications of the ACM, 48(7), 37-41.

Blomberg, J., & Karasti, H. (2012). Positioning ethnography within participatory design. Routledge international handbook of participatory design, 86-116.

Cross, N. (1982). Designerly ways of knowing. Design studies, 3(4), 221-227.

Meagher, K (2017, 2019, and 1990) Details forthcoming in her own post but some mentions here.

Stebbins, R. A. (2001). Exploratory research in the social sciences (Vol. 48). Sage.

Stolterman, E., McAtee, J., Royer, D., & Thandapani, S. (2009). Designerly tools.

Vaismoradi, M., Turunen, H., & Bondas, T. (2013). Content analysis and thematic analysis: Implications for conducting a qualitative descriptive study. Nursing & health sciences, 15(3), 398-405.

Vargo & Lusch, and Vargo & Akaka et al – what, I don’t know yet, its going to be part of the pondering post where I’ll review the basics and evaluate whether it makes a good lens for the informal economic systems

Verganti, R. (2009). Design-Driven Innovation: Changing the Rules of Competition by Radically Innovating What Things Mean. Boston: Harvard Business Press

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