GROUPER Lab: __ :: Chess Club: __

In many ways, the GROUPER Lab reminds me of a chess club. Let me begin by saying that I have never been a member of a chess club, but my Dad is a member of the St. Louis Chess Club – and he freely shares stories of his membership experiences. On the other hand, I enjoy playing chess (even though I am not the best of players, by any means), and watching my Dad and others play. Regardless of these caveats, the analogy still holds: the GROUPER Lab reminds me of a chess club. Although I am sure there are other ways in which this parallel applies, three are mentioned below.

All GROUPER lab members are skilled in various ways, just like chess players. Each of us brings unique experiences, perspectives, and personalities that contribute the make-up of the lab. All of us are the pursuing paths that lead to becoming Chess Experts (and hopefully Chess Masters someday). Though diverse, somehow the diversity of membership blends in a way that is beneficial to all who participate – which leads me to my next parallel.

In chess, each player has a way of seeing the board and the opportunities that await them given the right combination of moves. The same is true for each GROUPER. Every member (a) sits and watches the Chess Master think through challenges in order to develop their own expertise; just as eagerly as they are ready to (b) exercise a unique combination of the strategies they have acquired during their next “play.”  This demonstration of skills is most obvious in the unique research projects that each member completes. Although the details of each project vary, there is a consistent theme that ties them and it is captured in the overarching research agenda of the lab:  to understand “how people get, share, and use information…well.” It’s amazing how “all roads [still] lead to Rome” in spite of our diversity. This leads to my final comparison.

The Chess Master is a skilled “chess player” indeed! Even after attending one GROUPER meeting, something became apparent immediately. There is NO shortage of possibilities of: relevant research questions yes to be answered; IE (and non-IE) tools that could be used to approach them; domains in which our expertise cannot be applied; and the list goes on. The Chess Master is well-versed enough in many spheres that if given sufficient information, he guides each us, the developing chess experts, into rewarding games of chess that we never saw coming!

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