Thursday, 6 August 2009

The proposal

So I'm writing a new research proposal. Not that I'm proposing, exactly, I'm more like doing, but taking the time to propose anyway. It's like living with someone for thirty years, and getting married at town hall just to make it official. Or something. Anyway, it's hard, which is why it needs to be done because every time I struggle with the phrasing or angle, it means that something is unresolved,a nd I need to think it through. Everything needs to be articulated carefully, or I'm going to find myself in real trouble at some point later on.
Take for example the working title. The problem I'm having at this early stage is that the title is too long, but it's hard to know where to trim where the snip won't weaken meaning.
Come with me... I'll show you...

The catalyst: An investigation into participatory creative engagement and active outcomes through the design of a web-based system.

Isn't that a doozie? See, it says everything it needs to, and is only a Tweet in length, but jeez. It's a "catalyst", sure. Got it. The full colon is an equal sign, and on the right, balances rather ambitiously, precariously, the reality of what the catalyst is. Simply stated, it's action research project using the experience of people engaging through my design to solve a certain problem, a problem of finding a way to rouse latent creativity. I have to say "active outsomes", because I'm very deliberately not dealing with notions of creative ideation. What I am interested in is creativity put into action - variously; things made.

Here's a helpful definition of a catalyst, with the irrelevant portion dimmed. Emphasis all mine, baby.


Chemistry. a substance that causes or accelerates a chemical reaction without itself being affected.

something that causes activity between two or more persons or forces without itself being affected.
a person or thing that precipitates an event or change: His imprisonment by the government served as the catalyst that helped transform social unrest into revolution.
a person whose talk, enthusiasm, or energy causes others to be more friendly, enthusiastic, or energetic.

Another problem I'm encountering is the sheer scope of even this simple seeming project. My God. The more I think, and read and write, the more ground I see needs to be covered. It's as though every conceptual element supporting my project splits before my eyes, like cels multiplying, and each in turn halving, and splitting, and halving - two thoughts becoming four, four becoming sixteen, sixteen becoming thirty-two... it's really giving me a case of the shrinking realities, like contemplating the night sky and just thinking, "Huh. I guess I don't matter in this vastness." OK, that's an analogy too far.

Some people have done some really interesting study into creativity. Like this, for example. Lot's of great reading. I haven't seen a project like mine so far. So far, and so good.

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