I presented the very in-progress state of my map in class last Wednesday evening. I was nervous throughout the day ahead of the presentation — not because I lacked a grasp on its content but because after all of the various evolutions, twists, and turns on my concept, I really wanted to make sure everything translated to my classmates. With ten minutes to present and only a few more for questions, I knew I had to get my content and arguments across succinctly.

Through all my years and experiences in schooling, I can confidently say that I have very strong written and oral communication skills. Despite the fact that I feel I have outgrown the ten-to-fifteen-page paper, the instinct to produce one is so ingrained in me that the multi-modal approach to ‘the final product’ was slightly disorienting. As I mentioned in my previous process blog, it’s comforting to know that the in-progress state is considered valid scholarship. However, there is no substitute for a clearly articulated idea and purpose for pursuing the work. So for my presentation, I looked at the content that I had populated within URT and wrote out exactly what the argument seemed to be based on what existed, not on what I hoped would be there.

To my tremendous satisfaction, I wrote out an argument that not only seemed to make sense, but once again, opened up new paths to pursue: ‘After many evolutions this semester, I feel that I have what can more concretely be described as a map of the ways that the subway station acts as a medium within a visual communication system. It has symbols that communicate information about passengers’ geographic location while they are underground. These symbols are both (1) deliberately placed by the train authority (i.e., IRT – Interborough Rapid Transit, MTA) and (2) circumstantially ascribed by passenger themselves. In both of these instances, there is a high occurrence of art…’ And here’s how it looked in my notebook a few minutes before class:

With this as the backbone of my presentation, I felt more grounded than in any point in the semester. I even feel prepared to pursue a specific direction in a spring 2011 course I will be taking that focuses on the design of New York’s subway map. If there’s one lesson I take from this semester’s work, it’s that there is tremendous value in consistently taking stock of where you are in a research process. My ‘final’ work for this semester looks nothing like how I imagined it would in September, but I feel confident with what I have and remain open to how new findings can shift it even further.