Back At It!

Right back at it. The holiday break was great. A nice time away. Visited friends and family saw a lot of the Western North Carolina mountains. Good stuff.

Now, though, it is work time. Nick and I are taking our thesis project to the next step. We are looking at building an argument around the premise of induced demand for increasing bike infrastructure in the name of “Complete Streets.” We have begun by breaking down our research and making it more granular and accessible. This way it’s easier to reference and cross-reference!

To do this we developed two templates, one for documents and the other for interviews. Both are built on the work from my earlier Penn Medicine project. The document research template, or document brief template, has spaces for the theory, resulting implementation and examples that could be pulled from the corresponding texts. Collecting these snippets makes the data much more accessible. We also provide a short synopsis to give context, internally, to the snippets and a place for describing the possible connections to the rest of the project, so that it has external context as well. Of course, we put the MLA citation on it too, to make the book-writing step easier.

The interview templates, or data cards, are based on the quote cards developed for the Penn Medicine project. We’ve expanded them to include evidence, in addition to the regular wants/needs, opportunities and obstacles. We found that during the Penn Project some quotes were powerful and significant but didn’t really fall under the three categories and thus were forced into them. The addition of the evidence category seems to have remedied that. Currently they consist of interview quotes, but Nick and I plan on integrating information from the referenced documents to see what connections we can find between the research and the perceptions on the it all.

Currently we are working with the data cards. We’ve clustered them into maybe 7 themes and have then dug into each one re-sorting them to piece together a more cohesive story. To do this we’ve placed them on brown paper, using proximity to indicate relations working together to figure out what the story is. Keeping the cards loose made it real easy to manipulate and try different sequences to see which feels the most accurate in terms of our understanding. Once we came to agreement, we  used the brown paper backing as a canvas for annotations regarding the significance of a relationship or a quote itself.

Once completed we tape the cards down so that the page can be hung. Since this is our first run, there are a lot of overlapping relationships that we’ve had to separate. Our next step is to hang these up together and use string to connect these previously divorced relationships to really make a meta-map of connections between all the information gathered from our eclectic set of interviewees.

In the mean time though, we’re devising more plans for reaching out to our stakeholders, including motorists, pedestrians, cyclists and policy makers. We’re also visualizing our understandings, revisiting our project plan, re-working our thesis website, writing our proposal and more! Excited to see this one to the end!

Can’t get enough? Nick also wrote a lovely article about it here.

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