This patchwork metaphor seems to be to be fitting for several things in my life at the moment. The qualitative research I did was a series of interviews, of data, of masses of individual thoughts and emotions and these had to be worked into a single, usable theory. The writing up stage was a pulling together of ideas, theories, data, reflections into a single thesis, I guess that's why the process has been so difficult :-)
The internet itself is a connecting force, linking random individuals together. This is not a new idea. But I think it's interesting that the sites which are helping me at the moment (http://www.livejournal.com / http://www.bookcrossing.com / http://www.43things.com / http://www.flickr.com ) are all about connecting and collaborating. Blogs allow people to publish their thoughts and to comment on other people's blogs. Bookcrossing is a serendipidous sharing of books. 43things represents an individual's attempt to list their goals and yet other people can cheer them on and offer help. Flickr is a sharing of images, of searching for common visual themes. The internet is a patchwork of isolated individuals, who are linked through their shared interests in a virtual community. There is nothing virtual though about the quality of sharing which occurs within this random patchwork!