The Birth of an Idea

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According to the OED, research isdefined as, “ The systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions” (OED.com).

Now, as a professional writing major, research is not a new concept to me. In fact, research has become part of almost every course I have taken. Research essays involving in-depth analysis of literary journals and scholarly papers on Shakespeare, George Orwell, Jane Austen and Alexander Pope (to name a few); have maintained a large role throughout my university career. This research may not seem the liveliest to most, but for me, it is whatI am accustomed to.

But as I sat in lecture on the first day of WRIT 1004 Research for Professional Writers and was told that the entire course would be based off of one, single, research assignment, (amazing how this information was unexpected given the course name), I cringed, I groaned, I experienced some anxiety, and then I had an idea, (not necessarily in that order).

Some time between the anxiety and the light bulb going off in my head, our professor explained to us what an ICT is. Now I shall do the same for you. An Information and Communications Technology, or ICT, if you may is, as defined by Wikipedia, as: stressing “the role of unified communications and the integration of telecommunications, computers as well as necessary, enterprise software, middleware, storage, and audio-visual systems, which enable users to access, store, transmit, and manipulate information” (Wikipedia).

Given the definition, you can assume that a slue of ideas sped through my mind on a conveyor belt ready for the taking, right? Wrong. Back to confused and anxious I went. But then we were given two examples: travel sites and exercise-tracking jewelry. After being given some concrete examples, as well as performing some quick Google searches, I had a better idea of the topic to be researched.

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When researching an idea one must first come up with said idea, that they wish to further explore; that they can ask questions about on a grand, universal level; that they can, in the words of our professor, “Be worked on all year while hating it, and loving it at the same time” (Professor Bell). And so as someone who uses technology about as far as her iPhone, social media apps, Google, and Netflix – more so, as someone who rejects technology as simple as the common printer – my options were not endless.

Then my mind drifted, as it often did in the months of September to the present date, of my two weeks spent road tripping through California at the end of this past summer. And I recalled a certain situation that occurred in San Francisco involving Yelp.com. Now before I get into my run-in with this particular ICT, I must first tell you that I am a very picky eater, and so sites such as Yelp.com, with their highly advanced search engines, should bring nothing but warmth and butterflies to my stomach, right? Wrong again.

We had been on the road for more than 6 hours and by the time we had arrived at our “Airbnb” – an ICT website that I actually get along with – we were tired, cranky, and starving. As this was the second-last stop on our journey, and my boyfriend and I had spent the most time we had in such close quarters, may I just tell you that patience was neither of our virtues at the time. I might also tell you that no matter where we were in California, everyone we met seemed to emphasize that San Francisco had the best food and that we should have no problem finding something that would blow our taste buds out of the water. No pressure.

Given our lack of time there, we figured our quickest option would be to Yelp restaurants close by. We had become quite the “Yelpers,” this trip, although not the reviewing kind, just the kind who selfishly uses the site for their own personal ventures. Seeing as I was the picky one (his words) I took the matters of Yelping into my own hands. What was I in the mood for? Italian? Greek? Asian? American? What hadn’t I had since we left? Oh, a hot, steaming, plate of fresh pasta – no, not just any pasta, I wanted gnocchi! Yes. *Search Yelp: gnocchi with alfredo sauce *(because is there really any other way it’s worth being had?) And I was left with 10+ pages of results. Now he will deny this until his dying day, but I may be picky in what I eat, but my boyfriend is the pickiest when it comes to *where *he eats. So naturally, every review had to be read!

All in all, we spent close to 3 hours (mind you we were both exhausted, which probably had a role in this) on the site and finally found a place. So we take off and go, and we get there. Or so we think, but Yelp made a teensy tiny mistake. The location of that restaurant had since changed. Cue the fireworks, and not the good kind. Finally, we located the current whereabouts of the quaint little Italian restaurant, which happened to be a hidden gem concealing itself in a sliver of a San Francisco street, and I had the best plate of gnocchi with alfredo sauce I had ever had – at 11:00 o clock at night.

IMAGE CURTESY OF FREEDIGITALPHOTOS.NET

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So this was Yelp for me. This was an information and communications technology that was designed to make people’s lives easier, as many are, but instead assisted in the stress and exhaustion of an otherwise seamless trip. Whether it was an overwhelming amount of information to take in, or as Michael Luca would call it, “too much noise!” (Refer to podcast), there was something about the site that seemed questionable. This was my idea. And so I asked myself a few questions: Why would anyone care about my views of Yelp? Am I the only one who struggles with this site? Is anyone else asking questions about how the site works? And has this site played a role in altering the way we interact with each other and the world around us?

Enter: le recherché.

References

Buchachon, Nokhoog. Light Bulb Head Business Man. 13 May 2012. Freedigitalphotos.net. Web. 7 Jan. 2016.

Images, Master Isolated. Figure Doing Meditation. 23 May 2013. Freedigitalphotos.net. Web. 7 Jan. 2016.

Information and Communications Technology. (n.d.). Wikipedia. Retrieved October 22, 2015.

Miles, Stuart. Idea Computer Keys. 12 April 2012. FreeDigitalPhotos.net. Web. 07 Jan. 2016.

Research. Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press, n.d. Web. 07 January 2016.