A Research Turning Point
Bakelite buttons. CHF Collections, photograph by Gregory Tobias.
CHF’s vast collection provides endless material for our plastics debate. But which materials are best for which groups? And how do we ensure that everyone gets important background information like the history of Bakelite?
The Case of Plastics has taken huge strides forward in the last few weeks. We have established the game format, created the character roles for the students to play, and decided on the issue that they will be deliberating. With these developments the research process and my role as the Researcher take a sharp turn in direction and focus.
The phase I’m leaving behind was a fairly widespread and exploratory mission. Over the past several months I have identified and assessed the major issues regarding the past, present, and future of plastics while flagging compelling, interesting, or useful documents that would support the game in whatever its eventual form.
With the parameters of the game decided, my research can now proceed with a more directed focus. My new objectives are to find the best sources to support each of the character roles and to decide how best to use already-flagged sources in a way that will be meaningful to the outcome of the game.
For example, “Recycling Is Garbage,” John Tierney’s critique of recycling from the New York Times Sunday Magazine in 1996, is a compelling document because of its contrarian point of view, engaging manner of expression, and influential impact on the discourse about recycling. But how exactly is it to be best applied in our game structure? Which groups or stakeholders would find it most relevant? How will it help them construct their arguments?