Snowy Edmonton – Content analysis and old friends.

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting my old friend and mentor, Geoffrey Rockwell. It was a great trip. I stayed at a beautiful hotel, the Fairmont Macdonald Hotel, where I spent a good part of Saturday with my laptop in the great room, looking out the window and writing. The talk was interesting. It has been a while since I have co-delivered a talk with someone, but Geoffrey and I see eye on most issues, so we were able to segway between our parts quite well. We presented on the idea of whether the actual product of a text or content analysis is a new cultural or scientific artifact, separate from the texts or corpora from which it was pulled. One of the strong points of the argument, I think, was the idea that content analysis, because of its use of human coders, but also the very structured and bounded form of reading that is imposed on the coders retains the best of the interpretive, human, subjective element of reading, while integrating the order and rigour of the scientific method. I left Edmonton inspired to get back to work, but a little nostalgic for the good times that I used share with Geoffrey at McMaster. He was one of the reasons that I initially joined the faculty there and was always a trusted friend. At least the Maple Leaf Lounge in Edmonton was really pleasant, and since it was Thanksgiviing eve, the Air Canada staff offered us vin à volonté. Nice.

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