UCLIC: The Last Mile

by boon

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I am turning in my dissertation in exactly one week’s time. I’m taking a short break to write this post, not because I can, but because I just can’t concentrate on revising my project right now. And I was thinking to myself, maybe this isn’t a good time to be blogging about the course you’re going to be assessed on – but actually, this is about as real as it gets.

Just leave me alone

At this moment, I realize that all the effort I’m putting into this MSc project is going into polishing my ideas – i.e. writing a literary piece that’s able to stand on its own. And while I absolutely agree that bad writing sucks and that we should all strive to communicate things clearly, half of me wants to just give up and do something else – like, personas or wireframes or jQuery.

For one, I actually prefer to build stuff and see things work. And instead on being assessed on how well I’m able to design solutions, I’m being graded on how well I communicate my research ideas based on the work that I’ve invested in the project. It could be worse, I suppose – but it’s a little frustrating.

Sucking as a Designer

You don’t need an MSc in order to build things. But that’s not why I decided to take up this course. I did it because I was tired of convincing people that they need to build things better for people, rather than just building things so that it functions well. So, in a way, my goal was to learn how to convince people about building things better.

But halfway through the course, I realized that I wasn’t getting any better at convincing people about how to build things better. Instead, I was learning to convince myself about how to build things better.

So, really the MSc basically opened a can of worms for me – it showed me just how bad a designer/developer I really was, because I was focusing so much on solving the problem, rather than implementing the solution.

The Sobering Irony of Academia

The question is – did I really need to go down this path to know that? Did the course make a difference in my life? Would it have been better for me just to focus on building stuff and pick things up as I go along?

I think the answer is yes/yes/no, and maybe it’s because I took the road less travelled and I know of no other route. Firstly, all that effort I put into the course forced me to reflect on my abilities and goals, and I think I wouldn’t have realized there were much better ways to implement solutions without truly assessing myself critically.

It’s ironic that this still doesn’t guarantee that I’ll be able to build better things. But at least I should be a lot more sensitive about building worse things. So, maybe that’s what I’m really being assessed about – my ability to judge and reason about good design, which is more than just writing up a good project.

But mark my words, though – I’m going to park Word aside for some *proper* hands-on stuff when I’m finally done with this.