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Brain Storming about research using different technology with surprising results

I carried out two different brainstorming sessions with two different people using two different mediums of communication and came up with two very different results. However, I found it was not the medium of communication but the person I was discussing my topic with that determined the success of the conversation.

The first conversation I had was over text with a member of the Newberry seminar. In the beginning I was very skeptical that this technology was going to result in any real solid brainstorming or take away. I was pleasantly surprised. I personally do not like texting. I find it hard to express my emotions or to read others emotions. It breaks up my thoughts and I also have an old phone that is difficult to text on. However, in the case of my brainstorming conversation it did not seem to inhibit the conversation at all. I was forced to be direct and succinct and choose my words carefully causing my topic to be understood easily. During brainstorming I can find myself talking for hours or going on tangents but with texting there are limited characters you can use and it is a lot more difficult to text paragraphs over and over again, especially, on my small phone. Thereby I found texting to make my brainstorming more time efficient. I also found that in this conversation there was not a need for me to really express a particular emotion or to read the emotion of the person I was communicating with. Therefore the usual frustration I have with texting was removed.

Later on I called my mother to beginning my second brainstorming session over the phone. I originally though that this was going to be my most effective brainstorming session. Instead, I ended up not gaining as much as I thought I would from the conversation. I do not necessarily view this as the medium of communication’s fault but more of I had to spend time in the conversation explaining the project and the history of certain things. I have no problem discussing any of those topics with my mom however, in the context of brainstorming, I found our information gap to inhibit my brainstorming process and caused me to spend more time explaining than actually working through different paper ideas. In addition, we got off topic not long into the conversation and started talking about other things going on in our lives. I think that can be a drawback of brainstorming to someone you are so close with because it is easy to get off track and have unrelated conversation. This conversation made me realize that often it can be the people you talk to and not the mode of communication that can make or break a brainstorming conversation. Talking with a person from the Newberry program was great because they already knew the guidelines of the paper, where I could go for sources, and they also have historical knowledge that others lack. They could also bring sources or information they had found on their own topic to relate it to mine. Everybody in the Newberry program is embarking on a similar journey so that ties us together in a way and we are excited by the work each other is doing. Thereby, there is a special energy to brainstorming sessions I have had with other Newberry participants that I have not experienced when I talk to someone outside of the program.

That is not to say the brainstorming session with my mother was a bust. It was just more distracted and shorter. I told her that after thinking for a while I came up with the idea of looking into the connection between poor houses in the early 20th century and prostitution and sexual violence. After I told her this she brought up the World’s fair in Chicago and it got me wondering about how the fair could have affected poor houses and prostitution. I thought that was a really interesting idea I am curious if I will be able to find anything on that topic. I also brought up to her that I am considering looking at the history of how sexual assault was handled at colleges in Chicago. She made a good point that that project might be too big of a topic with the information too hard to find for the time block for the research I have.

The ideas I gained from the text conversation are exciting. After I told the person my idea they immediately brought up the Hull house and Jane Addam’s Hull and the work she did. I thought that was so great and something I had not heard of. I saw the house as a great place to find more sources and also Jane Addam’s Hull work a great place to start looking into this issue. She also brought up barmaids and their history especially in Chicago. That got me wondering what their relation could possibly be to prostitution rings or the sexual violence they may have encountered. The two conversations got me really thinking and the idea of new places to look and new books to read made me excited and more confident in my topic choice as one I will be able to find information about. She also reminded me of the prohibition and the gang activity that happened in Chicago during the early 20th century and it really made me think how the early 20th century would really be the best time period to explore for my topic. 

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