The medium in which dialogue takes place, as I have learned, can greatly promote and foster productive brainstorming and communication. Productive dialogue can take place while using many different types of mediums, and each medium can change the direction in which the dialogue may turn.
I recently participated in a dialogue using email as a medium and this presented some rather large obstacles as the conversation progressed. In a conversation via email with a friend, I tried to explain to her about different topics, including gender, education, family life and culture, and socio-economic status, that I was looking at to incorporate in my independent research project about immigrants in Chicago in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I worked to explain how I hope to focus on a particular ethnic immigrant group and how one or more of these elements played a role in their experience. Due to the nature of email, immediate responses and questions were not at the same simultaneous possibility that face-to-face dialogue generally allows. It seemed harder for my friend to understand exactly what I was trying to say, and ultimately, this led to productive dialogue in that I had to specify exactly what I was referring to and what I hope to accomplish. This medium served as extremely helpful in that it forced me to focus intently and describe more specifically what I am interested in studying and the plan of attack that I may adopt. Through this dialogue, I came to the realization that I really wanted to focus on gender as an instrument or lens to look at the greater immigrant experience. The other topics will be addressed, as they are all interconnected in some ways, but my interest lies in how the immigrant experience in Chicago differed in relation to the gender of the individual.
In another dialogue, this time using the medium Skype, it seemed easier to get across my interests and the possible avenues to take my research. Unlike the previous dialogue using email, I was able to show the brainstorming concept map that I had drawn to my classmate and articulate about the result of my previous brainstorming attempts. This medium seemed to be the closest to in-person communication, and therefore, allowed for simultaneous feedback, questioning, and conversation. Although this medium allowed for easier dialogue and understanding of my current interests and ideas, it was not as productive in forcing me to lay out the questions that I am hoping to address concisely and articulately like the dialogue which used email as the medium.
In my recent experience, different forms of mediums serve different purposes and can lead to different perspectives and ideas. The use of different mediums in terms of dialogue for brainstorming purposes has led me further along my path to narrowing down my research topic and the scope of the research that I will conduct over the course of the next 12 weeks. These different dialogues have led me to questions that I did not have prior to the conversations and had yet to contemplate. I have continued to examine the spectrum of this topic and have continued to ask these questions to myself. Across ethnic groups and boundaries, what roles did immigrant women share and how did this define how society viewed them? How they viewed one another? How they viewed themselves? What can their experiences tell you about the overall immigrant experience? Can these connections be made considering the ideas of gender and male superiority that were present in that given society? What forces or things inspired and empowered them to seek out the “American Dream”? How did their “American Dreams” differ? How were they similar?