What Is It – Or – Whatsit

Whatsit is a metaphorical image offering researchers an opportunity to speculate on meanings from the distant past, to beyond the imagineable future. Select the image and drill-down. Does it lead to an outcome or is it representative of activities of a political nature, no knowledge of the past, yet critical of the present, lacking in information, knowledge and wisdom. What does the image represent? Star Wars and alien spacecraft, insults hurled at a burning world? Is there a correct and static answer?

Observation Research

Observation Research Phase I:

Initial research presented in the New Future Guide is intended to be understood and useful for most citizens.

Methods utilized are nonparticipatory and passive in nature. This method is based on horizon scanning, a future technique. Observers acknowledge and record external issues and events, similar to noting, recording and reporting news and research narratives.

External issues and events may appear to be interconnected and/or repetitive in nature. When this occurs, the observer may initiate an external search for supporting data and information to explore validity for an initial hypothesis. When supporting data and information validate the initial hypothesis, research may continue to the next phase.

Observation Research Phase II:

  1. This phase is conducted as nonparticipatory or passive observation research, meaning there is no contact or discussion with the subject(s) or objects observed. Refer to the Type of Participant Observation Chart.
  2. The observation research process moves into a phase supported by multiple observers and/or the use of verified and validated data and information provided by external sources. Outcomes at this step are reported as observations, not as opinions.
  3. To form opinions, the research process must include agreement among multiple observers and/or data and information sources on the same issue or event.
  4. Observations should include data and information from reliable sources, such as government data bases and reports.
  5. When presenting data and information narratives acquired from reliable sources, the result is reflected as an observation, not as an opinion.
  6. When multiple observers report concurrence regarding the same issue or event, opinions may be stated. However, opinions require credible evidence and proof of the hypothesis to be accepted.
  7. Example of an external observation report narrative substantiated by external data and information is the SOTU: State of The Union Backdrop Summary.
  8. Active research issues will be documented on individual subject pages with links under the “Research” menu.

Observation Research Phase III:

Observations reported in the New Future Guide are summarized for citizens to review.

Upon completion, observations may be published as individual posts in the Online Log under a relative category.

Observation Research Phase IV:

Candidate issues to appear:

The Homeless – U.S. Economic Disequilibrium – Digital Warfare – Cultural Warfare & Insecurity – Far-east Instability – North Korea Weapons Test-bed – China Monopoly of World Resources – South and Central America Socialism – Status of the Soft WWIII.

Research Notes:

  1. Observation researchers must establish and maintain the research process with care and vigilance. Far too often, personal attitudes or opinions are inserted into the process, thereby misdirecting outcomes away from the issues or events. This results in a case of analyzing a participant or external source thought process, not the issue or event.
  2. When performing observations and evaluating outcomes of occurrences, be they related to things, ideas and concepts or actions of individuals or groups; observations frequently demonstrate interacting components forming a system.
  3. People interact with things and other people, and express ideas and concepts between them as a system. Even things in the form of technology provide feedback which affects the interaction of things, people and groups as systems.
  4. Organizations are hierarchical in nature, with a systemic relationship between levels. Activities and beliefs usually flow through an organization at varying degrees, from the top level to the lower level.
  5. Technology systems may have sequential and/or parallel components and systems which are affected by data inputs throughout the main system. An error in data at one component can be feed to other components and systems causing irregular functioning or failure.
  6. Refer to the Online Log – Research Category: Success with Complex Issues and Systems, and Complex Ordered Issues and Systems Model.
  7. There are numerous research applications and techniques available for evaluating issues, events, conditions, science, engineering, finance, economics, anthropology, humanities, sociology, psychology and more.
  8. Frequently research is presented as divided into two regions of logic, qualitative or quantitative. The fact that both of these general research regions are identified as “having issues,” is perennial in the research community. Qualitative constantly attempts to prove it is quantitative, and quantitative attempts to prove outcomes are valid. The statement at the conclusion is frequently . . . “requires further study.”
  9. In reality, it is common, as presented in the process outlined above, to begin with qualitative research, and followup with quantitative research.
  10. Another issue is the use of out-of-date references while performing research. There are thousands of colleges, universities and organizations worldwide, where researchers frequently utilize out-of-date and unverified references.
  11. Ethnography is a term related to observation research of peoples and cultures with their customs, habits, and mutual differences. Keep in mind that as a nonparticipating and passive observer, the challenges can be significant. Presence of mind, the ability to remain calm and take sensible action is required to achieve success.
  12. Research subjects are generally covered in statistics courses at the undergraduate level. Theoretical and applied research courses are required at the graduate level. Review of courses and videos depicts a dearth in the application of ethnography and observation research outside of college degree requirements.

Comments: The following videos are typical of issues and events observed on a daily basis. However, they are on a lower order of complexity than those identified in Phase IV as Candidate Issues for research.

Ethnography or observation research

Ethnography: Ellen Isaacs at TEDxBroadway

Free Online Open Learning Courses:

Qualitative Research Methods from MIT on edX: A free short course. Frequently, courses are archived after the initial offering date for online open learning.

How to prepare for and conduct conversational interviews, that will produce rich qualitative data. How qualitative and quantitative research complement each other in a research project.

The Conundrum of Open-Access Publishing

New principles aiming to democratise academic literature have the support of 11 European countries. But will they solve an age-old problem?

The widespread demand for open-access publications seems to come from a moral standpoint for most academics. Publishers have ripped off scientists for too long – we pay for our papers to be published and then have to buy the paper back off them. Currently, researchers who elect to publish their work with open access are forced to pay inflated prices to the journal. Overall, while largely supported, open access is not without its imperfections.

“it is about money, and the more it’s about money, the more money it’s going to be about”. (Read the full article) The University Times is Ireland’s largest student newspaper, and is the current Student Publication of the Year.

Complex Ordered Issues and Systems Model

COMPLEX can range from very limited (few interacting parts OR components as in a pair of glasses), to very large (many interacting parts AND components as in the space station).

In each case, we are dealing with the knowable, using defined and rigorous processes, consisting of proven science and strategic management techniques.

Each case, glasses and the space station, are treated and experienced as “evolving” over time. True, they represent the physical world in their initial final design. However, the science and processes used in their initial development evolve, providing the foundation to improve the initial design via in-service changes, or production of a new and better item.

Included in any development project, there will be unknowns. However, that should be an expectation, and it is understood that there is a process in place to resolve them to satisfaction.

There is the environmental issue, and the human-object interface. These are also included expectations in the hypothesis, and have rigorous scientific approaches to resolution with the physical.

Continue reading

Success with Complex Issues and Systems

There is a tested and proven, logical hierarchy, to the development of, and resolution of problems, within complex issues and systems.

Issues: Important topics or problems for debate. Issues Examples:

Climate Change – Financial Crisis – Causes of Poverty – Best Degree to Pursue

Systems: A set of connected things or parts forming a complex whole. A set of principles or procedures according-to which something is done; an organized scheme or method. Designing and Development Systems Examples:

Cell Phones – Cars – Operating Rooms – Space Vehicles – Mathematics - Physics

The Scientific Method:

At first blush (as a first impression), the scientific method may seem a little over the top for some issues and systems development activities. However, this method has ordered procedures, which ultimately lead to successful completion in the shortest time, with the least cost in terms of time and money. And, is equally adaptable to issues and systems.

Further Elaboration:

Complex defines issues and systems consisting of many different and connected parts. Complex is synonymous with terms: compound, composite and multiplex.

Complex issues and systems have “Objectives” which have well defined qualities and outcomes, in that they are NOT influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.

Complex objectives are well-defined, planned and coordinated activities in issues and systems development, support, management and use. The supporting foundation of complex issues and systems are professional fields of study, including mathematics, physics, chemistry, engineering, strategic management, government and education.

Complicated also defines issues and systems consisting of many different parts that may or may not be connected in a logical sequence. Complicated can be synonymous with terms: complex, intricate, involved, convoluted, tangled, impenetrable, tricky, bewildering, perplexing.

Complicated issues and systems are frequently “Subjective” in that they are based on personal feelings, tastes and opinions. Complicated issues and systems have multiple parts or groups of varied professional fields, which MAY influence one another without well-defined, planned and coordinated activities.

Confusion is a state of uncertainty generally caused by “Middle” participants in a connected or disconnected system. Confusion can be synonymous with terms: mix up, confused, muddled, messed up, and snarled

Summary:

Successful completion of objectives is best accomplished by applying well-defined, planned and coordinated activities.

The Scientific Method is adaptable to both complex and complicated issues and systems.

Caution:

Confusion occurs when multiple groups are tasked with working on the same issue or design and development activities, and NOT using a coordinated process.

Confusion can also result when pursuing personal career objectives. Inability to acquire timely, relevant and accurate information can result in indecision and procrastination.

Confusion results in halted or reversed progress.

Recommendation:

Ensure complex issues and systems activities have clear, well-defined objectives, are planned and coordinated between all participating groups throughout the systems development, support, management and use cycle.

This applies equally, to pursuit of small to large complex issues and systems, and personal career objectives.

Ethics Research

Two decades ago a research report was published titled: Business and Technology Management Curriculum: Changing Requirements.

The report is a comparative study of four graduate degrees from highly ranked universities.

During the research process, opinions of business, industry, academia, and accreditation agencies were reviewed to establish required outcomes of a graduate program in business and technology management:

Accreditation guidelines from regional and professional organizations were studied;

A matrix aligning industry, academia and accreditation requirements was created;

A survey instrument was developed using the outcome as established by the matrix;

A survey of professionals employed in the fields of business and technology management was conducted.

Survey Outcome

    Ethics was identified as an area not covered in any of the four-degree curriculums, and not considered a responsibility by surveyed professionals.

Potential Cause

Beginning around 1990, business schools may have embraced the concept that what is unethical may not necessarily be illegal.

This revelation may be the root of false advertising methods used as marketing tools to affect consumer behavior.

Current contracts are written to avoid product liability suits by wording to limit or transfer liability to additional parties.

Businesses appear to use unethical logic more frequently by becoming at-one with their auditors or licensors with serious outcomes. Refer to number five below.

This culture of unethical . . . although not illegal behavior also appears more frequently in politics. Politicians intentionally make contradictory statements regarding issues, even on the same day . . . when addressing different audiences.

As for the citizen . . . ignorance of the law is not considered a defense.

Developing "The Guide" entries requires some degree of proofing for normal or abnormal behavior within the system under observation.

1. Ethics, sometimes known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct. (Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia)

2. Workplace Ethics: 62 Things that are legal, but 22 of them are unethical. (Ethics Alarms)

3, What's legal? The fact that something is legal doesn’t make it ethical. You might think it’s obvious, but it is not. (The Business Ethics Blog)

4. Social Norms: Are group-held beliefs about how members should behave in a given context. (Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia)

5. Arthur Anderson ethical issues, and research papers on the subject of Ethics. Additional Research Documents available from (StudyMode).

Research Process

When performing observations, and evaluating outcomes of occurrences, be they related to things, ideas and concepts or actions of individuals or groups; observations frequently demonstrate interacting components forming a system.

That is to say, people interact with things and other people, and express ideas and concepts between them as a system.

Yes, even things in the form of technology provide feedback which affects the interaction of things, people, and groups as systems.

The question that must be asked "are ethics within systems normal, abnormal, or manipulated in some way?"

For the purpose of definition, change is always ongoing and the requirement is to perform and evaluate observations, make changes, and perform follow-up evaluations on the changes in an effective manner. This may be challenging.

The following list is intended to be a thumbnail sketch . . . not the most complete, or last word on the subject.

Can you handle the truth? That is a big question. How can we determine what the truth is? Observation is necessary to begin the process, and the following steps may be helpful in reaching the truth.

Step 1 Observe:

Determine . . . the who, what, where, and when of the activity observed. Avoid developing an opinion of the activity.

Step 2 Report:

Discuss and record your observations with other persons observing the same activity. Do all agree that the activity reported occurred? Do not form an opinion at this time.

Step 3 Evaluate:

Begin the process of defining what occurred and how it occurred. Can participants accurately agree to . . . the what and how of the activity observed.

Step 4 Explain:

Persons observing the activity develop an unbiased explanation of the cause of the what and how of the activity. Once again do not form an opinion of the activity observed.

Step 5 Opinion:

Compare the activity as explained to historical, cultural expectations and laws. At this point, an opinion may be developed regarding the activity observed.

The process of making changes and follow-on evaluation of changes to determine the effectiveness occurs at this point. This may become a fast or slow circulating process based on the normal cycle of the subject or system under consideration.

Rarely, except for emotionally charged issues, does the issue under observation progress to the next step without allowance for the normal process of observation, change, and evaluation to occur. It is essentially a runaway emotional issue that needs to cool down for normal processing to occur.

Step 6 Attitude:

Developing an outward verbal, physical or emotional expression regarding the activity observed.

1. Frequently individuals and groups fail to complete the process steps and go straight from observation to an inappropriate expression of attitude based on group influences.

2. In most cases involving courtroom testimony, a majority of witnesses fail to observe and record activities clearly and are easily manipulated as to how and when activities occurred.

Outcome Examples:

Example 1. Regarding the economy, unemployment, and international trade:

The residing president is frequently assigned responsibility for the issues of the day. Further analysis of the facts by following the above process will demonstrate that current economic conditions occur over decades and are addressed in the “New Rules ”category on The Future Guide.

Example 2. Regarding groups of individuals demonstrating on behalf of a political community or international issue:

When interviewed by the media many participants can’t identify or explain the issue for which they are providing support. Too frequently they are expressing an “attitude” without a rational opinion. The expression is more reflective of tyranny than democracy.

Example 3. Media influence becomes propaganda and shields the public from the truth:

Intentional or not, this frequently ensures failed public officials continue on and principled public officials are forced from office. Far too often public policy, legislation, and budgeting address the symptom of problems and not the cause. The result is problems continue on without resolution and serve as bargaining chips during the funding of political campaigns.

Research Considerations

Using statistical analysis to accomplish observation, change and evaluation are the traditional methods. After decades of using this approach, it is apparent that outcomes are becoming less reliable. True, they are important, however, users and applications have become so remote from the subject under observation that natural interpretations of the data and resultant analysis by users are producing misleading outcomes.

During the current recessionary period, eighty percent of business reported normal outcomes which are traditional. However, financial news agencies promoted a recession, depression . . . which followed with naming the follow-on period a bull market. In the final analysis, that would be considered a failure in a research candidates paper. What actually occurred was a failure of ethics . . . in the financial markets . . . which was underwritten by the government . . . which passed the gambling losses back to the public.

Research comprises creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications. It is used to establish or confirm facts, reaffirm the results of previous work, solve new or existing problems, support theorems, or develop new theories. (Wikipedia)

Statistics is the study of the collection, analysis, interpretation, presentation, and organization of data. In applying statistics to, e.g., a scientific, industrial, or societal problem, it is necessary to begin with a population; or process to be studied. (Wikipedia)

Forecasting is the process of making statements about events whose actual outcomes (typically) have not yet been observed. A commonplace example might be the estimation of some variable of interest at some specified future date. (Wikipedia)

Inaccuracies in forecasting outcomes frequently occur for various reasons:

1. The forecaster is using an inappropriate model for the issue under study.

2. Data applied to the model is not accurate, has not been verified and validated, or is from inconsistent populations.

3. Intentional manipulation of outcome analysis and published narratives to misdirect the user.

4. Researchers have personal interests in the outcome which sway the decision-making process to a specified objective.

5. Research is funded by a beneficiary of the research which may impact the design and outcome.

Social Change

Yes, ethics, laws, symptoms and causes are important. However, it is necessary to understand, to some degree, the culture, belief and value systems being observed.

Comparing national systems of a country, i.e. . . . a constitution within a country or in comparison to another country can produce differing results. Observations within and between professional fields and interest groups can also highlight the conflict between cultures and value systems.

The following presentation provides insight regarding social issues surrounding the "IT" as an important concept. The presentation is well worth watching in an attentive manner.

Readers with a background in business, industry, and academia will recognize the similarities of systems processes explained in a social context. Have some patience for the first few minutes of the introduction . . . then the major content will arrive.

Planning and Evaluating for Social Change by Michael Quinn Patton.