Research report: The value of meetings

| cascon, research

I had several very helpful meetings today. =)

The first was with Greg Wilson about a really
interesting experiment in social bookmarking for software engineering.
I wish I could have the brainspace to do it justice, but my research
supervisor feels I should concentrate and get my primary research out
the door first. Greg Wilson is way cool,
though, and I should definitely share ideas with him. =)

I discussed my research plan with my supervisor,
Mark Chignell. I described the waterfall-ish
division of time that I blogged about yesterday, and was relieved when
he suggested that instead of holing myself up in a library and reading
everything that's ever been written about the topic, I should instead
capitalize on my strength at prototyping things. I can build all these
little systems and watch what people do with them. When I see
something unusual, then that's the time for me to go and figure out a
theoretical framework to use in order to explore and evaluate the
situation. How nice it is to have a research supervisor who knows how
much I like to hack—and how hard I sometimes find it to focus on
something purely theoretical!

He also told me that he'd be happy if I could go for maybe one
conference and one journal paper. That'll probably be CSCW, then. This
means I don't have to worry too much about breaking my project into
publishable things. Think simple master's thesis, not PhD

My original plan was to be almost done by April of next year. He
thinks that's doable but ambitious, and that we'd both be better off
(read: less stressed) if I target June instead. From his experience,
masters students generally take two months to finish writing – April
and May. I need to have something reasonably promising by October in
order to convince IBM to keep funding me. My nearest milestone is
August 17, the intern day at the Cambridge lab: must have something
cool to talk about then.

Mark also suggested that I take his statistics course (“Every educated
person should know statistics”). Knowing my interest in business, he
also suggested the course on the business of software. I wouldn't mind
crossing over into Rotman for a business course, although it's also
offered under CS.

The last meeting was with Steve Easterbrook, Greg Wilson and Mark Chignell. We talked about CASCON. I like Greg's suggestion of a Ruby on Rails + mashups hands-on session that leads naturally into a student-oriented Hack Night. That would be great! I'm excited again. =)

If all my meetings could be like the ones I had today… wow!

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