I will present my thoughts on how to write a masters thesis as a blog.
I want to take advantage of the blog format.
I will put the traditional masters thesis up against the concept of writing one as a blog.
Traditional masters thesis:
The traditional masters thesis is a static text, revised multiple times before it’s presented in it’s final form.
- You control exactly what the reader is supposed to read and in what order he or she should read it.
- You can clean the text for bad and stupid statements made in earlier revisions when you didn’t know better.
- You present a clean, clear and professional text.
- Complex language.
- Not interactive.
- Does not support multimedia.
- Is stored in libraries and/or unavailable databases.
I went to borrow a masters thesis at the library at my school, I was told this was an extremely popular thesis, it had been lent out 19 times over a period of three years. Since September (a three months period), my starting master thesis blog has been visited 708 times. So, if you want those hard hours of work to be available to an as large as possible part of the public, a blog would be the way to do it.
Masters thesis as blog:
A masters thesis presented as a blog is a dynamic text, updated frequently and presented as a database of the candidates obtained knowledge.
- You open up for detailed insight into the processes involved in the project.
- People are allowed to interact directly with your work trough comments.
- It’s accessible from the whole world, not just in the schools libraries.
- You can embed multimedia, software and links in a satisfying and accessible way.
- It’s facilitates for writing on a daily basis and you start to see results right away.
- All the sub-themes are accessible trough global search engines.
- You expose your self totally by publishing rehearsals and statements you later want to change. As a musician and artist, I mean It can be healthy to keep a certain distance to your audience to keep the “magic factor” intact.
- It will be hard to decide what should be evaluated, since an average of 1-2 posts a week would result in around 150 posts at the end of the degree.
- How will it be maintained/stored after the two years?
- How academic should the posts be formulated?
- What can be posted?
- Page with a presentation of the candidate.
- Page with the project description presenting “what”, “why” and “how”, with all it’s revisions and an explanation for each change.
- Page with references,
including analyzed inspiration. This could be music, video or text.
I made “inspiration” it’s own category, see explanation further down.
- The actual work categorized in relevant categories.
It’s important to understand that a post can be a part of multiple categories.
- Other categories that must be present are:
These should be presented as posts, not static pages. This because they will be presented with multimedia and (hopefully) extensive reflections. This wold, in the form of a static page, result in a long and messy text that would be hard to navigate. Doing it in the form of “posts”, one can also see the impact that these categories have on the actual work, since it’s posted chronologically on a time line together with the work. This method can be compared to the concept of footnotes in a traditional thesis.
- It should be made obvious for any visitor that the blog is a master thesis.
- An academic and reflective behavior.
- Irrelevant information about the candidates personal life.
- Advertisement. This includes announcements of the candidates performances or concerts.
- Presentation of the candidates projects that are not relevant to the master thesis.
- Irrelevant information in general.
- “microblogging” – short posts saying for example: “Reading the book Free Play, let’s see if I can learn anything from it”.
- “look what I found”-things with out any further reflection over the relevance to the master thesis.
- Photos like this, just because they are funny:
I think the “comments” section should be excluded from these rules because of the nature of the concept “comments”: that it’s meant to be free and open to everyone to state their thoughts without any filter. Let’s call it free speech.
How the reader should navigate in the master blog is an essential aspect.
With help from my advisers, we have decided that we should present a “meta text” which guides the reader trough the project. I have an idea on how that can be accomplished:
Some keynotes to its functionality are:
- When a link in the meta text is hovered over, the corresponding post gets highlighted.
- The circle gets populated chronologically.
- The used space in each semester corresponds to how much actual time of that semester has passed (realtime).
- When opening things from the meta text, they appear over the meta text, as a slideshow.
- For the rest of the structure (categories, posts, pages etc., something like this).
- Rather than scrolling the meta text, I would like it to be divided in pages so it feels more like a paper.
I will also need an introduction site where I briefly state that this is a master thesis as a blog.
Writing for internet:
- The heading of each post should be a sentence that I would “google” to find that post.
This way I can draw a larger audience to my blog.
I would like to quote one of my commenters “burgerberg” on this:
Example: A text about using a toilet brush to control a sound effect, could be named “Interaction between a domestic implement designed for cleaning the lavatory pan, and a digital sound controller environment”.
Of course, this one is better: “Using a toilet brush to control sound effects”.
Or even worse, as I have already done, I could name posts something as diffuse as “Dancer”.
Yet doing it the “google”-friendly way could result in a quite messy database of posts with no obvious relevance to each other unless I categorize them well (see upcoming section on categories).
- Each post should start with a “What”, “Why”, “How” and a “conclusion”.
This way the reader can know if he or she wants to read the rest of the text and it is made very obvious what can be expected from the text.
Another thing that might should be added to the top of each text is an extremely short conclusion of the text so that the reader might get curios of how I came to that conclusion or just get the essential information he or she wants right away.
I will keep updating this page as new thoughts are made.