Confusing the Map for the Terrain

It was something abut Luker’s discussion of generalization that clicked for me this week. All this time, while I have been struggling with a scope/frame/focus, I’ve been neurotic about leaving an important aspect out of my research, studying things out of their context. To cover my bases, consequently, my research daisy had every discipline attached to it, my clay model included pretty much everyone in the world, and my research question kept branching out into a horribly complex question tree.

But I’ve realized something during these past two weeks about small-scale research: it was never meant to be a forum to test my theory directly. Rather, I have to study a manifestation of it, something concrete. 

In my case, I’ve been trying to construct a test to research the generalization that ‘the visual design of information is a powerful venue.’ I needed to approach this from the other end, however, and study a particular ‘case study’ that illustrates this generalization. With this basis, I can ‘logically’ generalize (as Luker reminds us is equal to the canonical’s ‘statistically’ generalization).

This might sound simple and obvious, to be honest, I’m not sure why its taken me this long to figure it out. I think I just got so caught up with making something ‘relevant’ I immediately went to these grand sweeping theories. While Luker discusses the importance of abstracting the study to make it relatable, I had to concretize my abstraction to make it study-able. It's a weird thing to get so caught up building a map that you forget about the terrain. I’m glad I found land again though, just in time for assignment 2 :)

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