It feels as if I have not much to tell this week. My thoughts, a bit loose and fluid. It was Easter, and my head has perhaps been away with the bunnies (see bottom). I have been trying to start reading Streetfight by Janet Sadik-Khan and Against the Grain by Norman Baker. But I utterly failed at that. Both are books about decision-makers pushing against power structures – a subject matter straight down my campaigning street of revolutions and contestation.
Unfortunately however, I kept grabbing other books off the shelves, re-reading. Books, papers, films… when you look at them again, they almost tell you an entirely new story every time. Perhaps when you read a book the first time round, there’s the broader storyline to concentrate on – which (if you still remember it when reading again) you more easily get to see nuances, or enter depth, or some detail.
This is a good thing, surely.
You never step in the same river twice as they say. The thinking has probably moved on, and your position has (been) altered, refined (we wish), renewed. The scenery might be the same, but your view is not. A couple of weeks ago I attended a 2-hour training session entitled “Research Philosophies and Paradigms”. And whilst the tutor spoke about ontologies and epistemologies (and suchlike big long GreekLatin&c words) and how it all relates to methodologies and methods, overall and surprisingly to me it actually was time well spent. Ultimately it is about you, as a researcher, finding your own position (view) in all the landscape (much of it put out there as an academic rite of passage… don’t quote me on that). A never ending battle between the data… being subjective or/and objective. When you are concluding something, how much have your senses and your brain filtered and changed the outside world? Can the outside world only exist because you look(ed) at it? Is it an objective factual world that can be described in numbers? Or is it totally subjective to the individual? I find these questions quite fascinating, albeit philosophical (and hence a bit floaty and removed).
Given my activism background, it was suggested to me to use autoethnography. I, clearly, have to look into that, but my gut-feeling says no. So, I have to investigate my gut-feeling, and where it comes from and if it is a valid place (in more way than one). I keep thinking… but I *am* an engineer too. Never a dull day.
In other news, this Department for Transport has issued what they call a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy only without the investment. In other words if groups, people and their dogs do not make a huge stink about the
- sheer lack of central steer (lurkalism)
- lack of design standards for a nationally consistent approach
- and in fact a total lack of a budget (to be invested in cycling infrastructure and green urban design)
it looks like a 1996 repeat is coming our way.
Otherwise, as I say, bunnies.