Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Can someone tell me why I do this again?

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Exhibit A is the pile of books (some from the local library, some from my personal library) that will be resources for the paper I'm writing on the Vicksburg Campaign of 1862-1863.

Exhibit B is the pile of readings that will be resources for the paper I'm writing on the threat to national security posed by cyberwarfare (incidentally, can someone please figure out whether it's "cyberwarfare" or "cyber warfare" or "cyber-warfare"?!?).

Take a second and consider the differences between the two images.

Did your immediate response sound something like, "Gosh, it seems like there are an awful lot of books in the first picture compared to the puny pile of mostly hand-scribbled notes in the second picture!"  Yeah, I said pretty much the same thing when I actually looked at everything piled up on my desk.  Such is the difficulty in writing on a topic of current interest that lacks authoritative research vs. a topic that has entire library shelves devoted to a single battle.

Just for fun, here's a picture of my handwritten notes for my paper on cyberwarfare (and no, I can't figure out why Blogger isn't allowing me to rotate the image):

Can someone please tell me why I keep choosing to study a topic that no one else seems interested in writing authoritatively about?  It's becoming increasingly difficult to recycle my own material and still make it seem fresh.  Seriously, when I have to run out to the bookstore to grab the one copy available of a book that was just published last week so that I can have an actual book in my bibliography, what does that say?

I'm starting to seriously reconsider my area of focus.  Maybe I should just get my M.A. in military history instead of cybersecurity policy?

I need a pep talk, stat!!


Proud Mom said...

Truthfully, Shauna, why would you WANT to become uber-knowledgeable in an area that's been done authoritatively before? That's like never adding a new spice to your cooking. Why should you get your M.A. in cybersecurity policy instead of military history? Because you are unique and insightful and curious. But mostly, because YOU can become the "authority" upon whom others rely.... and how cool would THAT be?! BTW, I'd go with "cyberwarfare" because you already use "cybersecurity".

Shauna said...

You mean aside from the fact that writing research papers would be a heck of a lot easier? ;)

I tend to agree on the usage of "cyberwarfare" vs. the other options, but as I'm not yet an authority on the topic (though at this point, who's around to argue?)... Thanks for the much needed pep talk, Mom! :)

Junie Moon said...

I agree with your mom. As you know, primary sources are mandatory for research papers, but there's also the ability to interview "experts" who may add insight to various points you're making (or reiterate those you argue). Such interviews are also considered primary (and therefore) valid sources. There may not be a vast amount of written materials, but I bet you know people who know people (and so on) you could use for info. And since there appears to be a dearth of documented materials, turn your paper into a book and, as your mom said, become the expert.

PurestGreen said...

Just think - one day you will be the one journalists will want to interview because you will have made yourself expert in a field no one was interested in until they needed to be. Keep going! :)

Shauna said...

You guys are fabulous! Thanks so much for the feedback - sometimes a girl just needs some positive reinforcement to get through a 10-page paper. I'm incredibly lucky to have family and friends like you! :)