Spencer writes in the library, part 30: Blind dates with books

Written by: Spencer Greenhalgh

Primary Source: Spencer Greenhalgh


This episode of Spencer Writes in the Library took place Thursday, February 12th around 1:15pm.

The Spot

Where am I working today?

I really think that the second floor of the west wing of the library is my new favorite spot. I keep finding new places that I didn’t know about: Today’s is a set of cubicles that have nice big tables in them, several chairs, and even some handy plugs.

What’s a perk of this spot?

The cubicles were a pretty nice touch. I wouldn’t want to work in a cubicle for the rest of my life, but the walls created the handy illusion that I wasn’t surrounded by a bunch of other tables and students.

What’s a problem with this spot?

The one exception to the above is that I’m still on the “talking side” of the library, and while other students’ conversations weren’t any more disturbing than usual, the cubicles created the expectation that they would be less disturbing. Which, of course, ended up being a disappointment.

What have I learned in this spot?


MSU apparently does a “Blind Date with a Book” activity right around Valentine’s Day, and I think that’s awesome. You can read the gist of the activity off of the poster above; I nearly took them up on it before remembering that I already have a ton of books that I’m behind on.

How would I rate this spot?

6 out of 5 dentists. (Why dentists?)

The Work

What am I working on today?

Over the weekend, I submitted a consulting request to MSU’s Center for Statistical Training and Consulting so that I could make sure that the statistical tests I’m thinking about using are the right ones. While I’m waiting for them to get back, I spent time fiddling with R to get my code ready for collecting my data.

What’s the highlight from today’s work?

Today felt great! I had a number of R breakthroughs and managed to hone my while-loop skills. I’m figuring out some tricks for minimizing manual information entry. While I’ll always be stuck with manually dumping some numbers and names into spreadsheets, I almost have my code to the point that the only thing I need to change is the spreadsheet, and R will take care of the rest. I still have some hiccups to take care of (the current version of my code balks when I try to get it to look at more than 20 different XML docs at a time), but I’m feeling confident about my next steps!

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Hi there! My name is Spencer Greenhalgh, and I am a student in the Educational Psychology and Educational Technology doctoral program at Michigan State University. I came to Michigan State University with a strong belief in the importance of an education grounded in the humanities. As an undergraduate, I studied French and political science and worked as a teaching assistant in both fields. After graduation, I taught French, debate, and keyboarding in a Utah private school before coming to MSU, where I plan to study how technology can be used to help students connect the humanities with their lives. I have a particular interest in the use of games and simulations to promote ethical reasoning and explore moral dilemmas, but am eager to study any technology that can help students see the relevance of studying language, culture, history, and government.