Final project, again

So here I sit still trying to figure out what it is that I should be writing about or working on for my final project. I asked for clarification from Professor Hanley… as in, can we outsource production of our project, or do we need to be the ones who actually hammer it together from the ground up. His answer was unhelpful, because it focused on the ‘fer instance’ and didn’t address the underlying question of whether it was permissible to conceive of the project and then pay others to build out parts of it or not. I’m just going to go under the assumption of “not” and move forward.

Now I have to decide between a wimpy-assed website project (I’m -so- not interested in becoming a web designer myself, but I’m very happy to hand things off to other designers to build out), or a thesis. I was advised by Alex Halavais against the Thesis, although to be honest with you I think that I’d better do something to put on my CV, just in case I end up pushing on to the PhD in the years to come.

On the other hand, I could just take the easy road and build “a portfolio site”. But I don’t wanna be a designer any more. I hate being told what to create by other people. If I make a creation I want to be the final arbiter of how it looks, I don’t want someone else beating me up over it not matching their expectations of the same concept. Design your own, dammit. 😉

Still looking for a topic, then

So now I’m still looking for a topic fit for a Thesis, then. I suppose I could always do Capstone and just build out a Flash/ActionScript animated sequence… but then I would be setting myself up for a career as a Flash designer. I’m not really certain that I’m comfortable with that outcome.

If I pick the Thesis option then whatever it is that I choose as my topic should be some indicator of where I would like my studies to carry me on to further, should I choose to go on academically. Either that, or it should establish some kind of mastery in some subject so that I can sell my services on the adjunct circuit.

There’s always trying to pave the way from a business perspective. I could pick some marketing or advertising-based interactive subject and try and come up with the research to make that work, or to throw my hat into the ring as a business writer… lots of fluff, lots of business theory, but a little less solid on the scholarly approach.

37 years old in August and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

More subjects

Still, having options is better than not having options. I can sort through these if I just keep writing them down.

Cup & Lip: As in ‘many a slip’. I keep thinking about the distance between the theory taught in school and the implementation of such things in the real world. I used to work in Enterprise Solutions, looking for business-wide technology platforms and tools which could be utilized to help alleviate the suffering of the modern worker. And I keep thinking about how a) there are really no enterprise-level decent project management solutions out there, and b) the ones that do exist end up taking more time to implement than they save in labor overall, leading to their ultimate disuse or rejection by workers as too time-intensive.

Maybe there’s something that can be done to work with that idea, or to investigate where that threshold is. I’m a little leery about anything involving original source research because my methodology is non-existant. Quinnipiac really doesn’t offer anything in the way of training for data collection and analysis from a quantitative point of view, as I’ve lamented here before. The other obstacle is that no one wants to talk about their failure to implement huge systems like Enterprise-level software.

The internet and British Traditional Wicca: This one could be very fun. Very, very fun. But unfortunately, it’s also a bit outside of the realm of anything. Basically, the idea goes like this. As the influence of a networked society continues to grow, there is a balancing that occurs between two different spectrums. On the one hand, you have the emergence of a more network-based, egalitarian social model of operation balancing out the legacy of a more hierarchical-based power structure. And on the other hand, you have the tug of war between “the tragedy of the commons” (whatever is free gets overused because it is free, thus destroying the resource or severely devaluing it), and you have the model of exclusive rights. In the middle of it, you have the Internet itself, empowering and challenging certain aspects of any kind of system or group.

Oddly enough, British Traditional Wicca serves as a great example of these kinds of forces in play. It is a religion which re-emerged in the 1940’s, based off of a dying hereditary model of “the old Religion”, the “Craft of the Wise”. It is intensely hierarchical, with three degrees of initiation, and gets accused of being very elitist. Yet at the same time, once you attain the innermost secrets and highest degree, you are among autonomous equals. The system is also networked, in that groups spawn new groups with familial-type relationships among each other. Like Deleuze & Guattari’s “rhizomes” model the groups of Wicca training are networked in ways that can’t even be mapped fully by the Wicca themselves.

In the earlier days of Wicca pre-internet, there was a lot of divergence in practice and theology, with several Traditions emerging. As the internet takes hold, we begin to see a reversal of this, a banding together, and a reacquainting of different parts of the family trees with each other once again. In a modern society where there is currently a push for “transparency” and “openness”, Wicca represents a bit of a throwback, in that it guards its secrets well in order to protect against the tragedy of the commons. Yet once 3rd degree is attained, there is autonomy and equality for all. There is also privacy and heightened expectations. This continues to work well, this blending of hierarchy and networking, of equality and ranking, of selective opaqueness, and transparency of responsibilities.

The only problem is that I’m a bit too close to the subject myself, and it seems to break down a bit… not the strongest example, but a fascinating one.

Copyright vs. Piracy: Such a huge topic, I would have to pick something specific on it. Maybe focus on the strategies of the MPIAA. Or examine the legalistic trends. It’s too broad, though the discussion about how ownership models of the past are being challenged by the internet becomes more and more interesting as time goes on.

Death of Professionalism: I really liked investigating this topic. And I have to say that my return to the advertising world in my newly spiffed out ‘digital’ capacity has shown me what these “waves” of new technology and new skill set craftsmen look like. Used to be that just knowing how to use Photoshop was a guarantee of a great job. Now you need to know how to apply Photoshop to the web. As the technology continues to push outward, the skilled employees need to hold onto their abilities. Nowadays it’s very possible to be outbid on a project by the proverbial “two guys in a garage”. What’s the difference between the DIY folks and the professionals anymore? Who’s leading who out here in terms of marketing and advertising “advice” to the client?  I really think that the advertising agency model needs to be phased out and a Communications Agency model brought in. But it’s a matter of how to monetize this, because even with all of the changes in the world going on today, clients are still their own worst enemies. How to convince the world to take the plunge? Is the plunge worth it?

More later as I think of them.


One response to “Final project, again

  1. In response to ‘Death of Professionalism’ you might be interested in a startup project I’m part of called AdHack —

    We call it a DIY advertising community. Anyone can make an ad. Anyone can buy an ad.

    We’ve got a basic alpha prototype website up at and we’re launching our beta version in the coming weeks. If you’re interested, check it out and let me know.


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