My confusion on how to narrow down my project, or to what scale, decreased a little last week. I was confused about this, as the designers brought some wonderful however abstract suggestions on the table for the design critique, one being "maybe your research frame is a coffee table"… Although I had pictured the visualization of my project a lot 'bigger' or at least more geographic than that, I was intrigued by rethinking the framing, and with that my argument. Some very helpful advices were given in class last Wednesday, among these Mary's suggestion of sticking to focusing on Clinton Hill, where my initial idea had been born by 'observing' the public sphere at my local cafe, and Kwame and Ariana who reminded me that the coffee shop can be considered for a third space. After stretching and twisting my project, it seems like I have to focus my geographic orientation in order not to make my research too random. I also decided to stick to my idea of redefining my basemap, or even just expanding the dimensions of it.

I am therefore focusing on a 'strip', a business district, where various kinds of coffee shops exist (and have existed throughout history). I have picked an area out of Manhattan that is fresh and untouched in this perspective: Dekalb Avenue in Fort Greene. It goes right through the historic district of Fort Greene and connects the neighborhood with Clinton Hill to the east and downtown Brooklyn to the west. Fort Greene is a very dynamic neighborhood, and Dekalb Avenue the main street, and it has changed a lot over the years.

My hand-drawn illustration below shows how I imagine my research to be structured, spatially, very roughly. The line of the street has the potential of being seen from above and thus fitting into a 'common' geographic base map, however, I imagine my map to be vertical as well. Focusing on the one street, I can map the layers throughout history and draw lines of coherency in between examples from different time periods. In order to analyze my examples with some kind of shared criteria, I have illustrated how a context analysis comes into play, in the right side of my sketch. I imagine at this point that parameters like media consumption, economic structures, cultural trends and demography should come into play, and I have been looking at demographics and income for various time periods.

My focus on Dekalb Avenue does not exclude my ongoing research on coffee shops in the rest of New York City. In the left side of my sketch, I have illustrated a 'space' for all of my findings outside of Dekalb Avenue that relate to my coffee house case studies in terms of time-period, cultural trends or "sense of public sphere", etc. These examples will go much further back than the cases I am digging out for Dekalb Avenue and they should help to contextualize my delimited research, not only to a place in time and surrounding environment, but also to the evolution of the coffee house in the greater New York City. This will be an exercise in "connecting what is separated", - of visualizing currently undiscovered links - , which Siegfried Zielinski mention is media's potential as "spaces for action" (Zielinski 2006, 7). So, I imagine a lot of flight lines springing out from my strip, which also opens up my research to future coffee house studies that might have a different focus or time-relationship, as well as it opens up for connections to other projects in this class. Although I want to be careful with placing my project in a specific 'genre category', the design might somehow fall into an "experiential genre", as listed by Steve Anderson. Referring to Anderson's argument that thinking a project in terms of genres helps to create a self-awareness about the strengths and weaknesses, I believe that the constellation of media elements and case studies and the "possibility space" that I invite for, by suggesting a (flexible) combination of these (that could be different for a future researcher), will be stronger, if I follow Anderson's advice and keep a clear focus in my curating of these projects. Also, I should keep the underlying research very detailed and visible (Anderson 1). My biggest challenge will be to 'justify' or explain coherencies between cases and media examples, in order to point at an argument about the social public sphere created within (or across?) these coffee houses. I look forward to advance my sketch tomorrow, where I am sure that inspiration and inputs from the rest of the class will make me rethink and restructure what I just posted! However, these are my initial thoughts before tomorrow's paper clippings!

Steve Anderson; "Regeneration: Multimedia Genres and Emerging Scholarships" [white paper] Institute for Multimedia Literacy, USC.

Siegfried Zielinski; "Deep Time of the Media, Toward an Archeology of Hearing and Seeing by Technical Means", (Cambridge, MIT Press, 2006)