|Work in progress, expect frequent changes. Help and feedback is welcome. See discussion page.|
I can see this has changed, partly based on our phone conversation, and you’ve come back closer to your topic from the jazz sessions.
I still have some trouble trying to see how you can make the project manageable. You have a lot of experience with Wiki’s and I’m not questioning that they are effective, but we’re having trouble narrowing it down enough to look at one specific aspect of the whole process and one specific outcome.
What’s needed is to take you career’s experience with Wikis and lift out one tiny piece of it that you can hold in the palm of one hand and give to someone else and say, “Here, try this, and I bet you’ll improve X, as measured by this indicator.”
You mentioned keeping people engaged in the project. “Engagement” is very difficult to measure — it’s all in the eye of the beholder. So why not measure it in terms of staff turnover?
Your example of Nellie brings life to the project — we can visualize what’s happening here. That’s a great start.
Your list of outcomes is thorough and specific, but I would choose just one or two and focus on a CRITICAL review of how valid they are. Specifically, most outcomes really refer to activities that may or may not be positive contributions. They require the reader to assume that the activity itself is beneficial, but that is often not the case of most organizational activities. For example,
~ think of the activities of a typical bureaucracy (many meetings, that seem to most participants a frustrating waste of time, and distraction from getting any “real” work done).
~ think of some meetings where people obviously like being together, but without any “objective” benefits beyond that. For example, think of a religious convocation among people whose religion you do not share: how would you sort out the “real” benefits (that any objective observer would agree with) from the harder-to-pin-down benefits?
One outcome measure that might work best is the one you mentioned, “editors per page” — which really goes straight to the idea of a wiki “product” You have to be very clear (and cast a critical eye) on whether it’s always good to have many editors (couldn’t someone say it’s inefficient to have so many editors? Could it be a sign that the original version was bad to begin with? Could the degree of input be dysfunctional — trying to impose a consensus on a subject whose very essence calls for ongoing discussion and disagreement and not closure? The English language and American law system are based on this kind of continuing evolution-in-use, in contrast to the French language and law, which are based on a fixed doctrine, established by committees.)
By raising such questions, I am saying that “number of editors participating” is a good and interesting outcome measure. It means it’s SPECIFIC enough that one can raise such questions, whereas most outcome measures are so general that one can’t even begin to discuss whether they’re right or wrong.
So, I think you’re on the right track, keeping Nellie’s experience clearly in view, and ONE outcome measure (number of editors or something else) at the center of focus. Obviously, the world is more complicated than that, but the purpose of a masters project is to show you can narrow a topic down well enough to go deep in a manageable way.
At this point, I would start looking for a few scholarly articles, from the Fielding e-Library, from peer-reviewed journals, to find a model for how you would frame your study. I’ve already mentioned a couple to you. Take it from there.