Og MacKiernen Dives Deep_awalker_802 Diagnostic Interview Project | Learning Styles | Personality Type

Wired for Sound

Og MacKiernan Dives Deep


Aspen Walker LI 802XC Diagnostic Interview Project Colorado Cohort IX, Emporia State University, SLIM Dr. Agada, Professor


Og MacKiernan (alias) is a commercial deep-sea diver. No stranger to hard work and murky, perplexing depths, a recent information quest found Og diving deep yet again to uncover the secrets behind the cutting-edge art of digital music recording. A long-time musician, MacKiernan exhibits the INTJ personality inclinations of the MyersBriggs Type Indicator (Webb, 1990). An introvert, Og recharges his batteries by retreating to the seclusion of his home, thoughts and inner world. Reflected in his musical proclivities, he is drawn to the “big picture” theories and patterns appreciated by intuitive personality types. With preferences for thinking over feeling, Og focuses on autonomous and objective decision-making, critical analysis, accuracy and common sense, rather than emotion or consensus. A consummate judger, MacKiernan prefers to plan ahead, schedule and organize (O. MacKiernan, personal communication, March 24, 2007). True to form, Og possesses an original mind and intense dedication to his own ideas and objectives. Skeptical and independent, MacKiernan is determined to get to the bottom of things, and see the problems he cares about clarified and solved. An individualistic western male, (Anderson, 1988; from Thomas, 2004) MacKiernan is a selfprofessed visual/tactile learner (Thomas, 2004). He learns best by seeing visual or graphic representations, and then applying the knowledge in a hands-on fashion. Og manifests aspects of Kolb’s converger, diverger and accomadator learning styles (Kolb & Fry, 1975; from Thomas, 2004). These preferences are highly evident in MacKiernan’s predilection for instructional DVDs, written material that can be abstract or detailed, and interactive, informative websites, as well as his need to physically operate digital recording systems in order to fully understand them (O. MacKiernan, personal communication, March 24, 2007). According to MacKiernan, he throws himself heartily into select and highly-focused information quests with confidence and gusto. Og’s other in-depth searches and pursuits include the thorough study of music, including theory, performance and composition, as well as cycling, diving and computer literacy. He typically turns to expert individuals, books, the Internet and video/TV for -1-

information. By and large, MacKiernan does not frequent libraries or online information databases. After dedicating himself to finding and understanding the desired information, others routinely start turning to Og for his concentrated and newfound expertise (O. MacKiernan, personal communication, March 24, 2007). Prior to his decision to learn more about digital recording software and hardware, MacKiernan paid professionals to record his music, or taped rough tracks on a small analog recording unit that differs significantly from the new wave of computerized digital recording tools. But Og was determined to take the leap, and dive deep for the information he would need to find, purchase and master the hi-tech tools of digital recording, and retreat from commercial diving to start his own professional recording studio. (O. MacKiernan, personal communication, March 24, 2007). Og knew that he would need a computer, software, microphones and other tools to take the helm at his own professional digital recording studio. He made good use of a five-week recovery from surgery to learn more about computer skills and technology. He bought a laptop, and spent his prescribed bed-rest viewing an educational television program that fittingly enough, promised to make anyone a computer expert in five weeks. (O. MacKiernan, personal communication, March 24, 2007).

MacKiernan, back in good health, and equipped with some experience in recording and computing, embarked on the information search process. Past experience led Og to initiate his search at a favorite music store. To no avail, Og found the store offered “No options, their technology was too low-level, and they didn’t even know how to use the little equipment they had. They also had no suggestions initially for where to go.” (O. MacKiernan, personal communication, March 24, 2007.) A hopeful 200-mile drive to another music store yielded no additional results. Google™ led Og to the Protools™ (digital recording software) website at <DigiDesign.com>, but it was too technical for Og to understand this early on in the quest. -2-

Og had encountered an information gap. Reticent to dive into the unknown, Og’s search came to a halt. Reflective of Dervin’s Situations-Gaps-Uses Model, (Dervin, 1983; from Thomas, 2004) Og would need to negotiate the gap and build bridges with newly discovered information to proceed. Luckily, Og returned to that first music store for a pack of guitar strings. The salesperson remembered MacKiernan, and this time he had a lead for Og: Sweetwater® Pro Audio. Og feels the “magical moment” occurred when he turned to the professionals at Sweetwater. “Everything started coming clear. You have to know what you’re talking about to work there. Sweetwater assigns you a personal sales engineer, and a cooperative relationship evolves. They keep a file on you, know what you own, and make recommendations based on your needs. They’re almost like mentors. I’ve spent hours on the phone with my representative, and there’s no charge for his expertise. They want you to be an informed [emphasis added] consumer.” (O. MacKiernan, personal communication, March 24, 2007.) The Sweetwater® website <sweetwater.com> and Sweetwater® print catalog also provided Og with a wealth of information. MacKiernan extols the catalog’s precise section headings, informative explanations, educational text, and concise descriptions of the various software applications, as suited to a user’s specific needs. Og started watching educational videos at Sweetwater.com. Since discovering the online resource, MacKiernen professes that he spends at least five hours a week on the top-notch website to this day.

Sweetwater® gave Og the tools and connections he needed to make sense and bridge his information gap, resulting in his ability to use (Dervin, 1983; from Thomas, 2004) the information that he needed and ultimately found. Og is now able to understand and utilize the ProTools™ website that baffled him on first encounter. He also learned about additional informative DVDs (Secrets of the Pros™) and a valuable author, Mitch Gallagher. According to Og, “80% of what I know comes from Gallagher, Secrets of the Pros™, and Sweetwater®. I would still be very behind without these experts.” (O. MacKiernan, personal communication, March 24, 2007.) Today, Og is actively engaged -3-

in digital recording on his home computer, and is on the road to building the large-scale professional recording studio of his dreams.

Og MacKiernan’s quest to understand and employ digital recording technology can be compared to Taylor’s Levels (Taylor, 1968; from Thomas, 2004). Initially, Og felt a visceral need. Things weren’t working for him, and he felt uneasy and dissatisfied. When this need for new information became conscious, Og realized he was tired of needing someone else to make quality recordings of his music. What’s more, the dangerous rigors of commercial diving made a new occupation highly desirable. Og had a sense that he could learn more about recording, that computers were creating exciting and affordable possibilities in the field, and that he might be able to wed his passion for music with his longing for a new livelihood. But Og lacked the foundational knowledge and vocabulary to fully articulate his need; he required resources to bridge the gap. After making connections with an expert, Og was able to formulate his basic needs and get on track. Ultimately, he started discovering and using the resources that would compromise his need into the specialized vocabulary that would yield the conversations and information results he required.

Og MacKiernen’s deep dive for digital recording capability is an apt testament to an information seeker’s experience with the affective domain and the associated emotional reactions. Throughout the interview, Og’s body language and storytelling conveyed his emotional journey through uncertainty, optimism, frustration, doubt, interest, confidence, satisfaction, and relief. His story, including the emotional aspects of the information search, is very akin to Kuhlthau’s Model of the Information Search Process (Kuhlthau, 1993; Thomas, 2004). In accord with my learning preferences for visual aids and tactile outlining, Og’s process is matched and mirrored with Kuhlthau’s model below (Figure 1.)


Figure 1 Kuhlthau’s Model (1993b, 2003) of the ISP and Og MacKiernen’s Information Search Process



Og eventually encountered a consummate professional, Brad, at Sweetwater® Pro Audio. The level of intervention and support from the Sweetwater® expert is palpable. “Brad is the only person I sit down and talk to about developing my digital recording studio. If Brad doesn’t know, he will admit it and make a point to find out. This accomplishes two things: he doesn’t give out misinformation, and makes a very important commitment to get right back to me with the right information. I spent twenty hours on the phone learning from Brad before I ever spent a single penny. I couldn’t ask for anything more.” (O. MacKiernan, personal communication, March 24, 2007.) While Og lucked out when he heard about Sweetwater® and eventually met Brad, an information professional could have provided essential and advantageous support, especially in the initial stages of his search. Given the rising popularity of digital recording, a willing, serviceminded reference librarian at the public library could have easily placed several books -and possibly a few instructional DVDs- in Og’s hands early in the search. The librarian could have also helped Og locate professional digital recording engineers (at colleges, or in business) that might have been willing to help Og learn more. The information professional could also provide contacts for businesses like Sweetwater®, that would provide the products and information he was interested in. What’s more, a librarian could have searched online music databases, like Grove Music Online (produced by Oxford Press,) for pertinent vocabulary and information about digital recording. Og’s expert at Sweetwater® can serve as an inspiration to the information professional. Although he probably doesn’t know it, Og’s account illustrates that Brad employs Grover’s cyclical model for diagnosing information needs: diagnosis, followed by prescription, then treatment, and evaluation, with a return to diagnosis as necessary (Grover, 1993, 1994; from Thomas, 2004). Brad expressed supreme concern for his user. Rather than pointing Og to a few cryptic resources, he invested the time to discover and address Og’s needs by applying his own expertise, and also


recommended additional relevant and excellent resources that would specifically meet Og’s requirements. Today, Og has spent over $20,000 at Sweetwater® and plans to spend another $70,000 to bring his professional recording studio to fruition. He routinely refers other information seekers to Sweetwater®. Without a doubt, Brad’s thoughtful and thorough approach has demonstrated the outright benefit of Sweetwater® to Og. Again, information professionals can learn from this example. If libraries cannot meet user’s needs, provide the assistance and support that will dispel the anxiety of an information search, and demonstrate the benefit of using the library and turning to an information professional, lack of funding and eventual extinction are inevitable. Like Og, we must dive deep and persevere through the challenges of working with varying individuals to shed a welcoming, supportive and knowledgeable light on many an information search.

References Kuhlthau, C (1993). At Your Fingertips: Information Competence in the Professions. Retrieved April 07, 2007, from <http://library.humboldt.edu/ic/general_competency/kuhlthau.html>. MacKiernan, O. (personal communication, March 24, 2007). Thomas, N.P. (2004). Information Literacy and Information Skills Instruction: Applying Research to Practice in the School Media Center (pp. 30-35, 62-66, 71-76, 175). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. Webb, B (1990).Type-casting Life with Myers-Briggs. Library Journal. 32-37.

Interview Questions To better inform my description of your information quest, I am going to ask you a few questions about your personality type and learning style. The following personality questions are based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, based on the work of Carl Jung and Isabel Myers-Briggs. If you are interested in learning more about your personality type, I can share some resources with you after the interview. 1. Which is your most natural energy orientation? Do you find that your batteries are “recharged” by being around other people, or do you seek solitary time to regroup and reenergize? 2. Do you prefer clear, factual data, or do you prefer to make connections between abstract patterns and theories? 3. Which do you prefer using more: your common sense or your imagination? 4. Do you prefer concrete and critical analysis or consensus and harmony?


5. Do you attend more to the present and live in the “now,” or do you find yourself thinking more about the future? 6. Do you prefer to plan, make lists and schedule things ahead of time, or to plan “on the go” and by “the seat of your pants” according to “what feels right”? Do you know what learning style or styles you prefer? Are you an auditory, visual or tactile learner? If you are interested in learning more about learning styles, I can share some resources with you after the interview. 1. Do you learn by seeing graphic representations or reading, and then remembering pictures, or where the information appeared on the page? 2. Do you like to listen to lectures/information? 3. Do you ever make up songs to remember information? 4. Do you doodle or take notes to remember information? 5. Do you find that you need to do something for yourself, and get “hands-on” to learn new information? Let’s move on to your information search. 1. What made you realize you had an information need? Why did you decide to embark on your information quest? 2. What were you hoping to learn from this information search? 3. What was missing in your initial understanding of the situation? How would this missing information eventually help you make a decision? 4. Where did you begin to look for information about this problem; where did your first step lead you? 5. Describe your search process; what steps did you take? Why did you follow these particular steps? What was your reasoning behind the step-by-step process you followed? 6. How did you decide which sources were helpful? 7. How did you evaluate the information you were getting? 8. How satisfied were you with the quality of information that you got? In the end, how happy were you about the process? Thank you.


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