Well, here we are at the end of the summer research experience. I can’t do justice to everything I learned this summer in one blog post, but I’ll do my best. I remember coming here in May and being completely overwhelmed and scared. I thought I would never be able to catch up, given how much I struggled with what seemed like simple tasks. But as I learned a little more every day, I realized that every new skill I gained helped feed into the next, which snowballed my lighting speed summer education.
I think the most important thing I learned is that I can teach myself anything if I just stay determined. In the beginning, I often got frustrated by spending all afternoon searching for answers to my small technical problems. I thought I was just slow, that my mind couldn’t keep up with the level of complex thought involved in research work in my lab. I was often advised to just search the internet for the answers to my problems, but this approach didn’t help me very much because I didn’t know what to search for or what exact terms to use.
Eventually, I started picking up on the lingo. Honestly, for me, that was half the battle. Once I knew what people were talking about (and what my programs were talking about) when they asked me to do something, it became much easier to get right to it and accomplish my task. I just had to accept that I was a little fish out of water and grow some legs. Please forgive the tacky metaphor, but it fits.
Once I tamped down my ego and forgot myself, I was able to throw myself into the process of growing. I accepted that I knew nothing, and climbed from the ground up. I became entirely open to new information and forced myself to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. This summer showed me that I can get through anything as long as I keep my mind open and try to learn from any new idea that crosses my path.
I believe I accomplished my goals with my project, on the whole. I created a tagging system to support the search engine. I encouraged users to tag with “Add Tag” features in the Looking Glass IDE and the Community site. I created an auto-tag feature for the Looking Glass IDE to compensate for user’s potential failure to tag their worlds. I hope with these in place, the Community will be easier to use and easier to navigate. I hope users will be able to find worlds they want to remix and other users they want to follow.
I know that this summer will stay with me when I go back to school this year and hopefully beyond then. I learned so many concrete tools, but I also learned so much about my ability and allowance for rapid change and growth. Hopefully I can maintain the attitude I gained this summer and remember to hold onto it in all my new classes and new experiences, even and especially the challenging ones. Here we go.