Posted in Discussion Questions

Topsight Phase II

(Fun fact for before I begin my blog: Every time I see or hear or read “Topsight” I always think of “Top Gun” and then I get excited because I feel like I’m on a cool plane mission instead of at school. Especially since the entire book is split into different “phases.” It all seems like an elaborate plan or mission or scheme that is playing out before my eyes. That’s all.)

Phase II Review

Phase II of Topsight picks up right where Phase I left off. Phase I discussed the basics of planning a study, from developing research questions to preparing all of the paperwork that is needed to conduct the study. Phase II continues this by addressing how to conduct a study, hence the phase is called “Conducting a Study.” The chapter titles are rather self-explanatory and I am assuming that my wonderfully intelligent and hard-working audience did the reading, so instead of summarizing almost 60 pages of text, for this particular discussion post I am going to hit my favorite topics covered in each of the sections.

Chapter 6: Introducing Yourself to Participants

A well-known saying goes, “first impressions can be tough.” This is why a proper introduction is so important. Establishing who you are and why you are in a place is extremely important if you want the people you are approaching to respect you and to work with you. In this section, the most interesting comment to me was the importance of how you move on after introductions. Spinuzzi suggests that one should not allow participants to be assigned, because then they will feel coerced and may not respond well to your questions. I have seen this in real life as an RA. When I do what we call “intentional interactions” with students, I get more luck having deep conversations with my residents when they approach me or the conversation is not forced; when I read questions off the proscribed list or have sign-up sheets for residents to come talk to me, the conversations are usually a little more strained.

Chapter 7: Observing

The Hawthorne Effect is real. I have felt it in my life and I am assuming you have felt it in yours. It makes me wonder how to get around this effect if you notice it happening.

I love that Spinuzzi makes a point to iterate that people are “weird.” This is so important to remember when working with other human beings. We are strange beings inherently and oftentimes we do not make sense to ourselves, let alone to others. This is imperative to keep in mind as an observer because it forces you to enter situations with grace and patience with others. It also allows you to look past what you are observing and see what is really going on. People are people. And people are weird. Once one understands this, the better off the research process will go.

Chapter 8: Interviewing

This chapter discusses the three different interview styles: structured, unstructured, and semi-structured. What kind of style one uses to research all depends on the type of person the researcher is, what type of person the interviewee is, and what the situation is. I am almost always a semi-structured interviewer because it is the most natural with my personality. I tend to always stray off my questions because I find people so fascinating and because what they say sparks other ideas into my mind.

I ran into trouble last year when researching peace communications in Africa with a friend of mine last year. We had to interview many different people over the course of a semester, and we came up with a solid list of questions. She thought the interviews were going to be structured; I thought they were going to be semi-structured. This led to a lot of confusion and awkwardness during our interviews, when I started asking questions that were not on the list and she did not know what was going on. I say this to remind you to go into interviews with a plan- know what you are getting into and what is expected of you. It will help.

Chapter 9: Artifacts

I honestly thought this chapter was so interesting because I had never heard or thought of artifacts before. Artifacts are “the information resource tools, and other physical materials that participants use” (115). The usually all have something that connects them so that they serve a bigger purpose in the study. They can be used in observation and in interviews and can be seen in the background. Spinuzzi talks about how to use artifacts, where to find them, and what to do with them. If by chance you forgot about this reading assignment and forgot to read (or just didn’t want to, I get it, it’s college) I would recommend reading this chapter because it covers topics that not many research classes cover.

Chapter 10: Collecting Other Sorts of Data

Sometimes life is busy or people need help, so research does not take its usual black-and-white form. This chapter (all two pages) is all about nontraditional research styles, whether that be social media or drawing. It is okay to think outside of the box sometimes. In professional writing, we are taught to be deep thinkers, and that oftentimes requires us to think of something other than what has already been done. We are supposed to be creative, innovate, and strategic. That is what this entire course has been about!

Discussion Questions

  1. If someone was studying you personally, what are some “artifacts” he or she might find and use? (pg. 116)
  2. How does proper interview procedure relate to our previous talks about ethics? (pg. 80-81)
  3. What does it look like to be an active listener? (pg. 107)


Posted in Discussion Questions

Topsight Discussion

Spinuzzi’s concept of “Topsight” is the idea of seeing “the big picture”. This allows one to efficiently identify larger problems that are trickling down into the smaller problems that one would see on a day-to-day basis in the organization. Spinuzzi notes that a doctor would identify the disease rather than simply treat the symptoms, and this is what one aims to do by gaining Topsight and applying it to their organization.

Spinuzzi gives us a guide on how to conduct research in the workplace/organization, noting things to look for a providing the possible perspectives of those we would be researching. A few things that stuck out to me personally were the connections to ethics, and the concept of Topsight itself.

My questions are:

How can you see the concept of Topsight as a tool to apply to your life/organizations you are involved in currently? How would it change from a workplace setting to a club or social setting?

Are there any industries that you feel this method would not be helpful? In what ways would it need to be changed? Could you see this being applied to your future field?

Posted in Discussion Questions

Top Sight- The How to for field Research

From what I understand of Spinuzzi’s definition of Topsight, I believe it is the process of viewing an organization as a whole and refining your research questions to identify systematic issues that may be small in the beginning, but because organizations are so interdependent can actually become a large problem or a weight on the company’s success. Spinuzzi shows breaks down this process by giving his readers a step by step guide on how to gain this kind of topsight. His broad list on page five gives these five steps, “Designing, conduction, navigating, analyzing, and writing.”

In Chapter two of Spinuzzi’s Toplight, Spinuzzi explains his recommendation for developing good research questions. He starts by broadening the basic idea of a research question from, “a one-sentence expression of the issue you want to study.” (pg 20) to a more broad concept, which is the option to begin your research from a “research concern.” This, I believe, opens the doors to discovering the systematic issue while conducting your research rather than feeling you have to know the issue you’re addressing from the very beginning. The other important thing to remember while developing good research questions is to remember to consider, “What you want to know… What the client wants to know… (and) What your organizations needs.” (pg. 21) This helps to direct your research questions towards finding the systematic issues of an organization.

Ethics are extremely important throughout the research process as there are many opportunities in which a participant’s privacy can be violated. Spinuzzi warns his readers to be extremely careful and cautious with the company, and individual’s information as not doing so could have drastic consequences.

The rhetorical concerns you need to think through as you approach research subjects and pitch your research projects, are who needs the information you are seeking, who does this information affect, and what kind of arguments do you need to use for each of these groups of people in order to pursue the wanted information. As a researcher you need to be able to make a strong rhetorical argument for why you should be allowed to perform your research and why your research is important. This is especially true when pitching your research ideas, because obviously if you cannot successfully pitch your research you cannot move forward.

My questions are:

What did you think of the “3 Levels of Activity” Spinuzzi talks about on page 26? Do you feel that this is a complete list of audiences, or should customer/user experience be involved in this section of the research?

Has anyone had any hands on experience with research? In your experience did you have to pitch your research to anyone, and did you find Spinuzzi’s list of things to always bring on page 70 to be accurate/helpful?

Did anyone find the ethics section to be missing some important points?


Posted in Discussion Questions, Uncategorized

Topsight Discussion


The reading begins with the definition of the term Topsight which the author defines as, “an understanding of the big picture”(Spinuzzi, Ch1). Topsight was created to access an organization’s overall activity and how that organization’s activity can be changed to produce more efficient results. Topsight includes multiple factors in order to help accomplish this including the resources that they use, chains of communication that people use in the organization, and how employees combine and substitute resources to address their tasks. How Topsight is created is through a five step format starting with the design of a field study, conducting a field study, navigating data from the field study, analyzing the data for trends, and creating recommendations to help use the data to benefit the organization. Chapters 2-5 go on to explain in more depth the use of research and field studies and some of the more important prerequisites that one needs to know in order to use Topsight correctly. Chapter two talks about the use of research design and a research design matrix in order to pinpoint what types of data that needs to be collected and what categories the data needs to be split into. A common research design matrix would include information based on levels of activity (macro, meso, and micro) as well as by the perspective of the tester and the subject being tested. In Chapter three it goes over the importance of building in protections in your research. Creating privacy for subjects, confidentiality and trust between the organization and the testers, control over the participation of the subject in the study, and control over the time that the subject spend being tested. Chapter four talks more about gaining the permission to perform these types of field studies within the company. It addresses the importance of contacting managers and stakeholders at the company in order to make sure everything being done is ethical and legal. Finally, Chapter five talks about preparing the study for data collection. It makes sure that you know the importance of knowing the tools and paperwork behind the study and using the right questions to collect the right data. This includes making sure the data being collect is confidential and that the prompts being used do not breach any of the rights of the subjects in question.


  1. What aspects of the Topsight method ensure that the data being collected will reveal the right information for the organization?
  2. Based on what the class has gone over with rhetoric and ethics, would you say Topsight is a good tool for professional writers to use for field studies? Why or why not?
  3. What is the most important step in the formation of Topsight within an organization? Why do you believe this?
  4. How can Topsight be used within the careers of professional writers? Give examples.


Posted in Creative Enagement

We are all just a Bunch of Noodles

Reflection: What I did, and why

So, I did the Creative Workshop 50: Patience Grasshopper.  I did not think I was the type of person to enjoy people watching until I had a good experience doing it when I was assigned to while on Spring Break in Rome.  On my Study Abroad trip, near the end of the week, we were assigned to find a location around the city to sit by ourselves and passively watch what happens around us for 30 minutes.  I decided to do the book observation passively during my house’s dinner time that way I can just be with my house sisters (Devonshire Cooperative) while doing homework, since I am rarely at home to study.  The observation was supposed to be for an hour, I probably spent 30 minutes doing the observation and 30 making the card.  The observation was a lot of fun, since I was sitting next to my sisters, it was hard to remain a passive observer rather than joining the conversation.  It is a little funny to say but most conversations in our house can be separated into three categories “Boys, Sisters (or the house in general), and School.”  Obviously, this doesn’t encompass the fact that some conversations are very fruitful and serious, but playfully we gossip about these three things.  One of my house sisters, Lauren is from Wisconsin, she brings her own set of idioms and slang to the house.  She has gotten in the habit of calling some sisters, Noodles, as a term of affection.  I took this use of the term and incorporated it into my card design because noodles can show a variety of shapes and colors.  Just like we come from different majors, years at Purdue, and have different personalities.  I thought it would be fitting to draw my sisters like noodles for the card.  For the observation, I were supposed to create a greeting card while reflecting on the experience I had while people watching.  I didn’t have a blank card to design this on, so I used a 5”X7” note card, as my “postcard.”


I looked up photos of noodles so I can draw the most (noodle-looking) noodles.  That way my lasagna and angel hair can be identifiable.  While doing that, I started to draw other noodles on my draft sheet in case I wanted to add more ‘people’ to my drawing.


Overall this was once again a great experience that I would recommend others to try.  I think having the patience to sit somewhere and open our senses to our surroundings is very important.  It is good for your health because it involves sense that we just have going in the background and puts them to work, and it gets us off our phones.  I think this can be a very creative experience to be influenced by what is going on around me.

ENG 306 Draft Obs

ENG 306 Final Obs 2

ENG 306 Final Obs

Posted in Creative Enagement

The prompt that fed my obsession for pirates and comics.

When I started this project, I knew I probably wasn’t going to follow the prompt I picked down to the T. When I came upon prompt #20, Storybook Ending, I was automatically drawn to it and thinking “okay, how can I change this prompt?”

Basically the prompt called for me to create a storyboard and plot for a book geared towards younger kids. Well. I certainly don’t write for children. So I knew I wanted to channel my story towards a different, older age group. I began thinking late middle school area, which was a challenge for me because I’m not used to writing anything geared towards a specific age group. I frankly find it more restricting as a writer. Nonetheless, I decided I would try.

So I’m sitting in my room and I’m thinking, “what kind of story do I want to tell” and that’s when it hits me. Pirates. These guys get a bad rap. I don’t really care. I love pirates. My favorite show is about them and I find pirates serve a really awesome metaphor of society rejecting what they can’t understand. Yes they murdered people and yes they didn’t abide by the law, but I think they’re really fun morally grey, anti heroic characters to flesh out. I then just decided to solely write about women pirates because I know that growing up, there wasn’t a lot for me to read outside of superhero comics that involved tons of strong female characters graphic novel wise.

I also have a strong belief that graphic novels can really help convey proper messages about life just about as well as any novel or film can. I have never had any trouble reading since I was young, but I noticed that my brother loses focus reading just text based novels.
I introduced him to comics and he has actually grownFullSizeRender to really enjoy reading. In fact, graphic novels are a great way to involve reluctant readers as well as benefit struggling readers (much like my brother).

I digress. This project has been a week in the making. As in I started a week ago and then two days ago remembered I should properly begin to work on it past the main idea. The prompt gives me ten minutes to brainstorm an idea for a story. I spent about fifteen minutes with a pen and notebook jotting down random ideas that popped into my head while listening to a playlist on my phone all composed of various movie soundtracks. After fifteen minutes I had four ideas, all of which to me seemed like utter crap but I was pressed for time and thinking quickly of ideas is not my forte. I shared them with a friend and we conversed about the various ideas for a while before I made my decision that I would yes, indefinitely write about pirates (I had back up plans in case pirates wouldn’t pan out), but I would write about them to bring to attention the need to intersectionality within feminism.

Feminism is an universally understood concept; it is the equality of all both socially, politically, and economically. Lately, the call for intersectional feminism has been brought about. Intersection is inclusion and feminism sometimes is not portrayed as such when it comes to trans women, women of color, and disabled women. It may not seem as pressing as a concept but when it comes to portrayal within media or feminism being used in every day life, it is something that could be explained and brought up more often than not.

And so I present to you my story idea, Jolly Regina (it’s a lame name but I thought at the time it was a clever play on the jolly roger). A story about a misfit gang of female pirates that advocates for intersectional feminism:

The Juno Bellona is a mighty warship manned entirely by women. A vigilante gang of misfit ladies who have long since pledged their lives to the sea and entirely forgotten their once peaceful lives in marriage to men bound to the King, they sail the seas plundering other ships that have committed crimes against other women.

Legend has it there’s a warship, the Nightingale, that sails the seas in the dead of night, destroying towns and ships alike to obtain women who try to go against the law of the King. By morning it disappears and isn’t seen. People believe it to be a legend, until suddenly there’s a string of missing women from towns along the coast. The ladies of Juno Bellona go after it in a frantic search, hoping to rescue the women and end the legend once and for all.
2017-03-24 01-53 page #1

The part I was most dreading finally could not be put off, though. I had a basic summary plot and I had begun writing a bit of the graphic novel’s storyline, but the prompt called for me to do some drawing and create a storyboard. I decided to at least try my hand at some drawing but truth be told I cannot draw to save my life. I asked a friend for help but she told me I should just try it myself and see where it goes. So I sat down, blasted some Two Steps from Hell, and set a 3o minute timer. I kind of enjoyed it, once I got over the fact I really, truly, can’t draw. The story started to flow, even if it was only the first page. I found myself quickly heading to my computer and using to begin my drafting of the script.

I wish I had given myself some more time and I definitely do think trying to play with the storyboard on a digital scale would be interesting to try out. Who knows, maybe I’ll keep this to the side and try to flesh it out some more. I had some characters already created and I also had begun writing a script. It was certainly a challenge for myself, I’ve always kept to the motto “write what you love” and I got to incorporate what I was interested about and knew a lot about, but was restricted to an age group which was unusual. Also the drawing. I give graphic novel artists props for the work they turn out. It’s amazing stuff.

Posted in Creative Enagement

“I’m in over my head, but it sure feels nice”

I’ll be honest. I was dreading this project. Not because I don’t like the assignment, but because I’m the least creative person there is. Seriously. I can’t draw at all and I don’t know how to do any design. There was no way I could do this project, right?

I started looking through the book and just got anxiety. I had no idea what I wanted to do, and honestly, I didn’t understand what a lot of the prompts are asking (i.e. what the heck is an interface?) So I just turned on some records and tried to relax. There had to be one project that interested me. And then I found number 19. All about designing an LP cover. That was so up my alley. I was supposed to turn on the radio and design an LP cover for a greatest hits album for the first artist I heard. Well I don’t listen to the radio and after five years living here, I still don’t know a single radio station. So I chose to design a cover for Fleetwood Mac, who I happened to be listening to at the time.

Most of my research included looking at Fleetwood Mac’s previous albums to get a feel for what their style was. And it was all over the board. Some covers featured the band, or some just had artwork, and thIMG_1946en there’s Tusk, which is literally just a barking dog. So I felt confident that I had a good amount of freedom. Then i had to do the thing I hate most. Draw. Oh gosh. At this point my roommate’s cat decided to steal my pencil, so I just sorta let that happen. Once I got that back, I sketched something quick even though it wasn’t required. It was my way of deciding if I can actually do this. I also needed to include elements from some of their songs with which I am very familiar. So I chose Landslide, Gypsy, Songbird, and Gold Dust Woman. I also had to include a photograph so naturally I chose a picture of the gypsy queen herself, Stevie Nicks. I chose to draw a nature scene, the “snow covered hills”. Plus, nature scenes are fairly easy. Then from there it flowed.

I was looking at the sketch and thought. “how cool would this look in water color?”  So I took a trip to Meijer to get watercolors and gold glitter. I chose to do this on cardboard so I used the cover of a shoebox which was pretty close to the size of an actual LP sleeve. Then I started tracing and then painting. I was so much easier than I thought it would be. And I actually enjoyed myself. To the point where I would consider doing this again or even in my free time.

So I went into this whole thing thinking it was going to be some terrible disaster and it actually wasn’t bad at all. I may have even found a new hobby! But it was really cool that I got to incorporate something I love into an English project. Who knew?