Rough Theory

Theory In The Rough

The (Updated) Gist

For those who have despaired of finding time to read my thesis drafts, perhaps a Wordle of the first chapter might convey the gist:

word cloud of the first thesis chapter

Hat tip Dead Voles.

I wonder if I can submit one of these in place of an abstract? Perhaps I should ask Wildly, who has a post up with the alarming words: “Yesterday, when I made the final change to my thesis”… Does this mean there is a new doctor in the ‘sphere? :-)

Updated to add that Carl from Dead Voles suggests a pedagogical application for Wordle:

I imagine requiring students a week before an early-semester paper is due to come to class with a wordle printout of their introductory paragraph. I would then put them in work groups and have them attempt to interpret each others’ wordles to see how close they could get to the author’s intended meaning. In the process I think they would be clarifying in their own minds what ‘extra’ is needed beyond mere words to communicate a meaning and frame an argument. The additional benefit is that this would move their procrastination window up a week.

(Perhaps I shouldn’t mention that there is a certain… resemblance between Carl’s suggestion, and one of my actual assessment tasks this term, which allows students to post extremely rough and schematic notes about course assessments to a blog – precisely with the intention, as Carl phrases it above, to move up the procrastination window… My version is significantly less attractive for students to distribute to their peers…)

Carl also suggests a group exercise for the readers of both blogs: comparing only the wordles of Carl’s dissertation chapters, and my own – what would readers suggest are the primary differences between our work? :-)

And Carl suggests a different sort of exercise – one that seems strangely topical for the dissertations of L Magee or G Gollings: how would one redesign Wordle to take into account relations, as well as frequencies, among the words?

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10 responses to “The (Updated) Gist

  1. Lynda July 24, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    Is it just me, or does anyone else see a shark that’s been harpooned by ‘characteristics’?

  2. N Pepperell July 24, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    Yeah, see, I thought it was a sort of squishy Australia…

    My favourite part part of this was the massive “therefore” (on the far right-hand bottom corner of “labour”) – surely I don’t use the word that much? (Evidently, I do… ;-P)

  3. Lynda July 24, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    I saw a squished Aust too, first up. But I do like the shark; particularly one heading in *that* direction, harpooned by characteristics.
    That wordle thing rocks. *Now* I know what my thesis is about. Given my abysmal progress of late (at least in producing stuff ‘worthy’ of handing over) and an important meeting looming, perhaps I could present my wordle instead – it’s all there, and presented much more eloquently than I could ever do with bothersome things like sentences.

  4. Carl July 25, 2008 at 1:22 am

    It’s a pig! Commodity is in the nose and the tail has characteristics. :)

    I sure hope the order we put the words in and the relations among them are of some importance. Otherwise I’m just doing freakin’ word lists from now on and wordling them up for that insta-view of smart.

    Come to think of it, there may be a writing pedagogy in here somewhere…

  5. N Pepperell July 25, 2008 at 6:03 am

    Carl sees capitalist pigs, and Lynda an assault on a rightward-travelling shark… Hmm….

  6. Lynda July 25, 2008 at 8:31 am

    Can’t it be both? Oooo how immanently critical ;-)
    On ‘therefore’ prevalence – does that mean your thesis is riddled with identification of causality… you trend bucker, you.
    And all of this squished in Australia… I’ll leave that one alone…

  7. rob July 25, 2008 at 10:51 am

    Personally, I like the way that in this particular representation of the antagonism between capital and labour, the former is so small that it doesn’t even span the two centre characters of the latter.

  8. rob July 25, 2008 at 10:52 am

    Heh. I’ve just noticed that there’s “capital” and there’s “Capital”…

  9. N Pepperell July 25, 2008 at 11:01 am

    rob – Yes, well, I do keep writing about “the dual character of capital”… ;-P But I hadn’t noticed the little “capital” hovering above the behemoth labour – that’s lovely.

    Lynda – yes, could be causality – could just be that capital logic stuff rubbing off on me – therefore, therefore, therefore… ;-)

  10. lisa August 6, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    I see a submarine, very like the ‘we all live in a yellow’ one. With the characteristics being the thing you look through… what the hell is it called??

    Not sure about an image of down under… characteristics makes a very small state of queensland. Russell and the ‘red north’ would not be happy.

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