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Reflecting upon the road to Tacoma

September 28, 2010

Tomorrow I leave for Tacoma, Washington to present at the annual meeting for The Society for the History of Technology (SHOT). SHOT is an interdisciplinary group of scholars that encourages the study of the history of technology as it relates to society and culture. Research presented through SHOT venues is from a historical perspective and scholars from all over the world make up its membership.

When I submitted my abstract for SHOT I knew it was a bit of a stretch of my skill set as the style of research and scholarly writing dramatically differs from that found in my disciplines of technology and organization development. My disciplines mandate strict APA format which is terse and heavily-laden with conventions and formatting requirements while SHOT’s format is based upon Chicago style, representing a more conversational type of narrative. To decode the SHOT-specific writing conventions to even accomplish the 600 word abstract was a mind-bending process, but I somehow made it work and my abstract was accepted.

Developing the paper for SHOT was intense and very difficult. It was clear early on that my SHOT paper would make a large dent in my dissertation research and so I decided to dual-purpose my work. My topic is “Organizations as Consumers of Human Capital via Technology: Evolution of the Boundaryless Workplace”. Adding to this existing body of work, I will have my dissertation prospectus defense in early December of 2010, with final dissertation defense in April or May of 2011.

Along the way, I received two grant awards from SHOT. Additionally, my application to compete for The Robinson Prize (for best presentation) was accepted. I will be representing Indiana State University (as my degree-granting institution) and Bowling Green State University (where I am “owned and operated” as the sole doctoral fellow in the College of Technology). My competitors are from internationally renowned schools such as MIT, Yale, Stanford and the like.

Regardless of not necessarily having a big reputation (school/program) precede me, I’m very excited about the chance to be an exemplary representative of my schools and my program among my fellow competitors. I will bring with me the well-wishes of everyone who has encouraged, supported and cheered me on during the whole of my road to the PhD. I will represent my family and my friends as I hold an intimate conversation with a few hundred people about technology and the workplace. It’s going to be a lot of fun as I find presenting to be a natural inclination and I am confident my work is good.

So to answer the “so what?” question as we do in research, this competitive experience embodies a few philosophical things to me as it’s more than just a finite event fit for my [dreaded] Vita. I am the Poster Child for Second Chances. I want to believe it when I say to my kids “Yes, it’s hard and it’s painful – but you absolutely CAN do it. Push yourself. Don’t give up; even when you feel like there’s nothing left.”  SHOT is, for me, a major milestone in that direction.


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