Minutes from Meeting 6- February 14th, 2011

Posted by deanna

Meeting minutes- February 14th, 2011

2:00 – 4:00 pm

Present: Jason Camlot, Annie Murray, Jared Wiercinski and Deanna Fong


-Annie/Jason: Ethics clearance and audio survey update

-Jared: Soundcloud update and issues

-Discussion: What do we look at when we listen?

-Deanna/Jason: Ongoing reading series

Annie: Audio survey update and ethics clearance

Application for ethics approval should be fairly simple, as most of the questions did not apply to the project. The main relevant questions are listed as follows:

How will you obtain informed consent from your applicants?

The preamble to the questionnaire will clearly state that participants may terminate their participation in the questionnaire at any time. The entry page of the web survey will consist of an online consent form and participants will indicate their consent electronically by clicking an ’I AGREE’ button.

How will participants be informed that they are free to discontinue at any time?

They will be informed of this in the preamble and in the text of the online Agreement page. If participants choose not to click the submit button at the end of the survey, they will have discontinued. *Note that this replaces out previous idea of having a ‘Discontinue’ button on the page itself; the absence of continuing is a discontinue.

What access research participants will have to search results?

Participants may optionally select to receive anonymized survey results.

We will collect the data on the password-secure SpokenWeb site. We will export it as a data file to the researchers’ Lab-secure computers. Only researchers and research assistants will have access to the data.  The data will be kept indefinitely. *Identify grant end date.

What access will the researchers have to your participant(s) identity(ies)?

Participant choice- Participant will have the option of choosing which level of disclosure they wish for their identity. *Let the person completing the survey identify themselves in the first stages of the survey, as opposed to the end.

Audio survey update

Annie has completed a first draft of the survey. Our task now is the rephrasing certain questions to ensure that we are getting the information that we want. How to optimize our questions about what they have?

For example, once we have determined that recordings exist, more questions arise:

  • -Can the recordings be listened to? How can they be listened to? Intellectual access vs. physical access to the materials.
  • -Where does the description reside? Is it in a catalogue? Print or online? If not online, then why not? Dropdown menu for reasons that description in the place that it is.

Annie will email a first draft as a Word doc to Jason. Jason will put a Word file up on Dropbox and will invite all SpokenWeb members for editing. Dropbox allows changes to be tracked from user to user. Easiest way to access Dropbox is through Gmail. Everyone will send Deanna their Gmail.

Get an archivist to read through the survey- possibly from McGill.

Jared: Soundcloud update and issues

Jared brought up a number of issues with the functionality of Soundcloud:

1)      Not all the recordings were able to be uploaded to Soundcloud. We are currently registered for a pro account, which allows us 40 hours of audio time, but this only got us through half of the recordings. We might want to consider upgrading to next account level (an unlimited number of hours, at a cost of 500 euros). This raises issues of sustainability for the use of Soundcloud long-term, as this is a cost we would have to commit to year after year. The question then becomes, is it more viable to continue to use the tools available on Soundcloud or creating our own software for this purpose?

Embed codes have been added for all the recordings currently available on Soundcloud.

2)      Question of navigation as the Soundcloud player exists: Is it helpful to see the waveform? The timestamps? How easily can the user navigate within the data? What does the waveform tell us against the transcript information?

Navigation wish list/idea pool:

  • -Color-coding various sections as a way of marking up the waveform (extrapoetic speech, poems, and introductions)
  • -Two streams of commentary needed- One frozen (administrative) SpokenWeb annotation that provides transcript and timestamp information, plus an interactive user commentary- Either of these could be activated or deactivated by the user.
  • -If you go to a certain point in the waveform, it would be helpful to have that bring you to that point in the transcript. Similarly, it would be great if clicking on a portion of the transcript would bring you directly to that point in the audio. It would be ideal to have the text anchored to the audio in some way.

3)      Time stamp annotation issues: The time-stamped annotations from Celyn’s document were put on the waveform using Soundcloud. Several problems arose:

  1. Comment box cannot accommodate large amounts of text. The user must click on an arrow to see the rest of the text because the comment box is so small. This greatly hampers usability. 
  2. For every time-stamped comment, the icons that appear on the waveform prevent two comments from being very close together–comments must be a minimum of one minute apart. Not all comments could be added as a result.
  3. The manual entry of these comments is time-consuming for a large-scale project.


Introduction to new features on the site

Three randomly generated recordings on front page + latest blog entries. Each refresh re-randomizes the recordings generated.

The player is now at the top and moves as the user scrolls down.

Transcript moved to the top, while biographical information is below- We discussed the idea of having tabs to organize the page, as it is a lot of information to look at

Overview of different Soundcloud players- Please see Jared’s blog post on this subject for more details.

Discussion: What do we look at when we listen?

Jared’s use of the ‘Artwork’ player for Soundcloud introduced the question: What do we look at when we listen? Right now, the site is very text-based. How to incorporate visual elements into this environment? How do we link the separate components (visual, audio, print, personal experience, institutional) of these readings together?

  • Examine print archive linked to the reading series- are there images from the reading? Authors, audience?
  • Images of the institution, i.e. Hall building, students, teachers—more sociological ways of contextualizing the material.
  • Different media of representing this phenomenon that is the reading series. Memory-based material, such as interviewing with the founders and organizing. Oral history that runs parallel to the readings themselves.

Deanna/Jason: Ongoing reading series

Deanna gave a brief summary of the materials collected so far from the following ongoing reading series: Synapse, Pilot, Writers Read and SLS.

Questions: What do we do with these materials? To what extent do we want to be involved with their distribution?

Web presence is large part of a series’ identity, and there is a large range of how each series wants to use their recordings. What we are doing with the SGWU series is coming up with a simple template for series to allow a series to create their site, rather than to do it for then. The goal is to make the audio available for distribution without imposing an aesthetic on them. Ideally we would have the series organizers be more involved in how the material gets presented.

Question: How are poetry readings at Concordia digitally curated?

To answer this question may require an application for larger, external grant, which investigates questions such as: What can working on the curation of a historical archive teach us about the process of curation for a living, ongoing archive? What is the effect of a one-time performance that is endlessly archived on the Web from multiple perspectives? How does the closed SGWU series inform the curation of ongoing archives by what missing from it? How can we improve our efforts of preservation?

Steps to take in this direction:

  • -Jason will talk to Sina re: collaborating on such a project with Synapse
  • -Talk to someone from Oral history lab.
  • -Meeting with Marie-Pierre Aube, the new Director of eDocs management sometime after the break.
  • -Look into the research of Arizona group who got federal grant for similar project

NEXT MEETING: Second week of March

Questions to think about:

  • -Should we stay in Soundcloud or not, based on the issues that Jared brings up?
  • -What can we add, in terms of contextualizing material, to the SGWU archive? Where can this material be found?  -What do we look at when we listen?
  • -What is our role in the curation/distribution of materials from ongoing reading series? How does this relate to the mandate of our current project?

Filed under Meeting Notes