"Knowing a great deal is not the same as being smart; intelligence is not information alone but also judgment, the manner in which information is collected and used." - Carl Sagan

In most of the classes I took during graduate school, I was able to engage with research and analysis at a much deeper level than offered in undergraduate studies. In many of my classes, I conducted extensive literature reviews and annotated bibliographies, performed rigorous analysis and evaluation of current research, and composed critical articles and papers that allowed me to push my knowledge of a particular topic and ask further questions and identify areas of future research. In addition to research papers and annotated bibliographies, I was also able to practice performing case studies. Below are some of examples of my intellectual endeavors during my two years in graduate school.

LIS 570: Research Methods SWOT Analysis

In LIS 570, I had the opportunity to look critically at some of the research from Technology and Social Change's Landscape Study, which was an in-depth look of public access to computing venues in 25 developing countries around the world. For one assignment, I chose to code research documents about public libraries in both South Africa and Uganda. For my final assignment, two classmates and I performed a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis of three different public access venues in South Africa. Both of these projects furthered my thinking about information and communication technologies in developing countries and public access venues, as well as all of the intricacies and facets that go along with programs such as these in developing countries. I found the SWOT analysis to be particularly useful in helping me to identify areas for further critique, analysis, and research, and I'm confident these research and analytical skills will transfer to all of my professional endeavors.

I was able to use the findings of the SWOT analysis in my research at the Gates Foundation, and I have since been working on implementing a SWOT analysis system the Global Libraries team can use when exploring potential countries and grantees.

SWOT analysis of public access venues in South Africa can be found here.

LIS 580: Organization Case Study

As our final assignment in Management of Information Organizations, we were asked to conduct a case study of management techniques of a particular organization or manager. Given my upcoming employment at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, I chose to focus on the Gates Foundation, and in particular, Patty Stonesifer, who was the President of the foundation until 2007. Performing this case study allowed me to evaluate effective management techniques in a foundation of philanthropy setting. Analysis of the management of the foundation better prepared me to work there, as well as identify strengths and weaknesses of its management history.

Performing a case study of an organization I greatly admire and now work for helped me enormously in preparing me for my work at the Gates Foundation. As I now work within the Foundation, I can reflect on what the case study revealed, and compare and contrast my "desk research" with the realities and intricacies of working within the Foundation.

My final case study can be found here.

GEO 521: Critical GIS

Critical GIS is a small seminar-based class that helped me to engage with information technologies and information systems, particularly geographic ones, at a deep, critical level. By evaluating and analyzing GIS through the lens of various critical theory, such as neoliberalism, post-structuralist, positivism, feminist theory, and queer theory, I was able to investigate the political and social implications of geographic information systems, whether there are implicit or not. For my final seminar paper, I chose to explore a particular use of a web-based GIS tool, Ushahidi, the impacts it has recently had, and how traditional GIS and critiques of it has allowed Ushahidi to be developed and used in specific ways. This is perhaps one of the hardest and time-consuming classes I have ever taken, but I learned a tremendous amount about the relationship between technology, society, and politics, and how it affects economies, power, policies, and change (or lack thereof) in communities.
My final GEO 521 paper can be found here.

Writing for Journal Publication and Conference Participation

Over the past month and continuing through Spring quarter, I have been writing various articles for publication and conference participation in the fields of information and communication technologies for development (ICTD) and international librarianship. These papers are still in draft mode, but I have already found out that one paper exploring whether user fees deter from public access venue use throughout the world has been accepted at the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) 2010 conference in Sweden to be held in August.  I look forward to continuing to write for journal publication and conference participation.

Gaining practice and experience in writing for publication has helped my research at the Gates Foundation, as well as giving me the opportunity to explore topics and issues I have not had the chance to in my course work and other professional experiences.