diabolical contingency

I am sure I had not read or was not told by anyone of the contingent nature of research at any point of my PhD. I won’t discuss it here in detail, as it would probably be detrimental to my PhD, so I shall return to it at a later date with some specifics. Even though I have carried out a stupendous amount of research, the magic ‘red thread’ of argument seems to have only fallen into place by accident. At no point did I think, “Oh, I need to talk about this, so I’d better go research it.” It has always been a case of finding what emerged from my reading of the archive or being in the field. What have a missed because of this? Probably lots! I certainly know that now who I would interview and what the nature of the questions would be…

I am probably a little manic being up this late and working at full throttle, but it is a little awe-inspiring to think that none of the main arguments of my dissertation were locked-in until at most several months ago. There is no necessary case for the arguments that could have been established beforehand. Everything has developed as if by accident. Such contingency is the opposite of how we are trained and inducted into our research practices. Everything has to be established before we begin. Even now as I am massaging the chapters into their final structure I am reading over paragraphs that are simply deleted, or examples that are mobilised within arguments that are completely transformed. Such contingency!!

How to prepare new researchers for this? Is it a good thing? How does this work with current funding structures? Where is the location of contingency then?

Two Series: Empirical and Theoretical

A follow up to the writing woes discussed here.

I have lots of empirical work in my dissertation, both fieldwork and archival work. I also have lots of ‘theory’ work, too. I think the single biggest problem I am continually finding as I am finishing this monstrous thing is that as I introduce my examples and discuss the development and transformtions to the scene of modified-car culture through empirical work I am also introducing and developing the concepts of the ‘scene’, ‘enthusiasm’ and so on. The problem is that I can’t introduce and develop all the conceptual tools at once, and then simply apply them; my dissertation would be unreadable.

The argument of the dissertation has to follow a somewhat linear trajectory, but the thinking that goes into developing conceptual tools is far from linear. It jumps around here and there, engaging with some examples, not engaging with others. The conceptual tools developed are a ‘solution’ (amongst others) to the problems that emerge in the empirical work. What I fear I will never get right is the balance between grouping relevant parts of the theory work and the empirical work in such a way that allows the dissertation to take on a reasonably normal linear trajectory.

The current nine chapter structure is the best balance yet. I am up to chapter four in the reorganisation. To get it done I have had to become more militant with my time from other parts of my life. Only positive affect here, please.

Oh, and I have my extension until November 30. At least that is some good news.

blog: links?

Something weird seems to be going on with my blogroll. Not sure how to fix it. As some may have notived I have been playing around with themes. I also deleted all old links and imported my bloglines list, but that didn’t fix it. It has only been a problem since upgrading to wordpress 2.2. The blogroll manage page of the wordpress dashboard is telling me I have a database error:

WordPress database error: [Can’t find file: ‘wp_link2cat’ (errno: 2)]
SELECT category_id FROM wp_link2cat WHERE link_id = 62 ORDER BY category_id
A Wild Young Under-Whimsy
wildyoungunderwhimsy.blogspot.com Yes Edit Delete
WordPress database error: [Can’t find file: ‘wp_link2cat’ (errno: 2)]
SELECT category_id FROM wp_link2cat WHERE link_id = 63 ORDER BY category_id
Ain’t Got Time to Blog
jmacgregorwise.blogspot.com Yes Edit Delete
WordPress database error: [Can’t find file: ‘wp_link2cat’ (errno: 2)]
SELECT category_id FROM wp_link2cat WHERE link_id = 64 ORDER BY category_id
antipopper.com Yes Edit Delete
WordPress database error: [Can’t find file: ‘wp_link2cat’ (errno: 2)]

And so on for the 70 or so links that are meant to appear. Bugger me if I know what is going on. I won’t try to fix it again until I finish the diss as it is wasting too much time.

Endnote and Vista 64

New computer is up and running. I have had a few issues with the 64-bit version of Vista. First, I had to get a new modem, because my previous modem did not have driver support for Vista. I bought a Netcomm NB6 that has an ethernet and USB connection so I can set up the new computer and old computer in a mini-network.

By far the biggest issue is with Endnote. With Vista it works ok, but the 64 bit version is problematic. There is much stuffing around to turn off the Cite While You Write preferences (involves going into the system registry). I can cope without having CWYW turned on as I am mostly editing. A fix will be needed eventually. I remember there were problems with previous versions of Endnote and a memory leak in XP and Word 2003.

The big news about Endnote X1 (11) is that within the library you can link to a PDF. This is massive. I have almost a thousand PDFs of journal articles. The frustrating task of searching these PDFs just got a little bit easier. Endnote makers realise that a bibliography is constructed from the socio-technology of the library (archive), while the computer operates through databases.