The first notebook

The first notebook is a like log of your journey. Because we are trying to make sense of things then we can’t leave anything out. We don’t know or have decided yet what is important, what we want to give attention to and so on. What we see or notice is a lot less under our control than we imagine1.

This is the only way to document the changes you undergo as you take your journey. Meetings, classes, people, resources you come across, reactions to your research by others, surprises to the strangeness of the terrain, and so on, should be documented as regularly as possible. Record the time and date for all of the items you put in your log. Without such a record, your ability to make sense of the new terrain will be lost and with it your capability to map where you are, where you have come from and the direction you want to go. Your thesis will be so much the better for having a rich and detailed account in this notebook.

As a professional you have to hand or in your mind various ‘maps’ that you use to make sense of the various fields in which you work. All this notebook is, is a device to extend your making sense of new fields, new terrains. This is therefore where you record your questions and puzzles as you trek into places you may not have imagined could exist. This is where you record your impressions, ideas, assumptions about the new, the different, the puzzling.

Equally, even though some of the terrain may seem ultra familiar, this is where you need to tred carefully and make every effort to make it strange, less familiar, lest you well rehearsed view of how things are gives you a bland, commonplace account.

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