Since I decided that the focus of my research would be online, I’ve had a growing symbiotic relationship with the internet. I spend most of my time in front of my computer, having a conversation with someone or Google. I’m always searching for the answer to a question, and the conversation only ceases when I sleep. I spent about ten days in Costa Rica a year and a half ago, and kept thinking that bug sounds coming from the jungle were text notifications–like many of us these days, I’m almost always on the grid.
So okay. I’m not saying anything any of us aren’t experiencing at some level right now. Even if you still have a cell phone that doesn’t connect to the internet, you’re saturated by discussion, information, and images from the internet all day long. Everywhere you look, people are mid-conversation. I saw this ad on the subway in March 2010, and took a quick shot of it on my phone because it struck me as meaningful and timely. I’m not completely sure what the point of the ad is, and it doesn’t make me want to buy the camera, but I note an implication of unity–that we’re all in this together. (There is also an assumption about equal access to new technologies.)
So the point is: we can’t deny that the way we communicate is changing, and every day brings more digital correspondences than the day before. I want to know, given this onward march of technology, is it possible that dissertations will start looking like blogs? Please??
As I started talking with more of my classmates, colleagues, and professors about my ideas for research involving blogs, it often came up in conversation if I would also be blogging as I gathered data. I knew I would, but I didn’t know if I’d be making it public. Well, here I am blogging about my ideas as I immerse myself in the digital world of what teachers have to say, and I’m not hiding. A conversation with an old friend yields the following suggestion: that my blog becomes my dissertation. I got to thinking about this idea, and chatted with another friend/colleague earlier this evening about it. It turns out he’s already set his dissertation up as a blog! It’s divided into an organized set of dropdown menus and categories for easy navigation, and is an evolving work that will culminate in an online publication of sorts. Seeing his blueprint made me want to pursue the idea of using what I write in Mediated as part of my dissertation. After all, I did start it to sort out the thoughts cycling through my head every day about teaching, policy, technology, and so on. I know that writing these posts will be crucial in the actual writing of my dissertation narrative; however, it can’t be as simple as being the dissertation itself.
But I’m thinking about the concept of digital dissertations in earnest now…
In the meantime, I promised my friend I’d find out if anyone had actually submitted a dissertation digitally. And I’m not talking about uploading a PDF of the tome you’ll deposit at the library in order to graduate, but rather a dynamic web page that is built more like a moveable non-fiction book than something you read cover-to-cover. We decided we’d both like to know if any exist.
I didn’t find much in a cursory search on Google and Google Scholar, but I imagine something’s out there. If you know of anyone who’s presented their dissertation online, please forward a link.