I was at the front of the room–staring into the light from the projector
bulb–for most of this morning’s Writing Program TA orientation session on Quick
& Dirty Research.  What put the Q&D in today’s talk?  Aggregation and
RSS.  Everyone going along with it now has a fresh-fed Bloglines account
and 67 subscriptions.  For more, here’s
and the

accompanying screencast
.  I welcome any suggestions; the screencast is
a bit rough in spots (and longer than I’d like).

Basically, the talk hinged on these few thoughts:

  • Aggregation as Q&D (not slow and clean) is applicable for students
    working on projects and also for your work as a teacher, writer, scholar and
  • It leads with questions about the inventive and generative activity rather
    beginning with a hierarchy predicated upon licensed sources (credible if it’s from the library only, myth debunked).
  • It dislodges the material orthodoxy in composition (what materials are
    appropriate for composition, what counts as writing…it’s unbothered by
    intermittent junkiness in feeds).
  • It exonerates us from narrow or unnecessarily constrained reading habits. 
    Qualification: this isn’t meant to disparage book-reading.
  • It productively complicates (or steadies, if you’re into efficiencies) our
    information ecologies and personal knowledge management systems.

I carried on just a bit blahngerandthenandthen than I would have like to, but
it was challenging to fit all of this into one hour and 20 minutes.  We
finished with three minutes to spare, which means it was just about right for
the time allotted.  I left, as I often do, knowing full well that it will
take more experimentation and play with Bloglines for folks to take it up more
fully, even make it part of a daily routine.  The group was gracious enough
to clap, so, well, I’ve had my fill of applause for the week.  Tomorrow:
full-on Writing Program fall retreat.  Friday: a mini-seminar on access and
success for student-athletes. 

Added: I regret that the screencast shows IE, but it’s the less-customized browser on my machine, hence better for a generic-seeming browser view. Also, I didn’t come up the name “Quick & Dirty”; it was assigned to the time-slot when I agreed to lead the session.


  1. Instead of “Quick n Dirty” you could rename it: “The Research Comes to YOU.”

    Although there is something compelling about the phrase “QnD.” We like stuff fast, and it sounds like we’ll get some back door secrets or something.

    Regardless, you were, as always, a shining star. 🙂 You did not blather like you think you did.

  2. I don’t really have any gripes with “Quick n Dirty,” but I did begin to think I was reffing it too often (if only entertaining myself at how many lame-o riffs I could make on the title of the session). Sign me up for the last TA orientation slot any day; I’ll yak and yak until the soothing numbness sets in.

    Thanks though for suggesting that it went okay. It’s hard to know how something like this takes.

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