Looking Ahead…

Posted by on January 2nd, 2011 § 0

Well, it is most certainly 2011.  With the impending date change hovering over my head, I spent the last few days of 2010 tying up loose ends and accomplishing tasks that might imply some kind of resolution.  To wit: I signed up for a “trial membership” at a nearby yoga studio; I submitted an application to teach English in France; I purchased snow boots.  A lighthearted New Years Eve gave way to a heavy-headed New Years Day, but here I am… and with cassettes in tow!  A friend somehow managed to snag a decorative cassette tape off the bathroom wall in the fine establishment that hosted our revelry.  I can honestly say that under no other circumstances would I be more grateful for a tape of Nashville Pussy’s classic tunes.  Happy New Year to all!

While I’m rather doubtful that I will ever listen to this trophy tape, I am pleased to announce that the Listening Project has already acquired several more tapes (as yet unheard) whose recordings we will likely unveil next semester.  Although the LP was originally commissioned for just one semester, I think it’s clear that we still have work to do.  We have alumni voices to share now (and more who want to record).  I should also mention that one Stephen G. Emerson took a turn behind the tape recorder at our reception.  The following night, we ordered enough pizza for forty people and, by golly, all of it was consumed at the Broadcast Party.  Afterward, I received many emails from people interested in recording and peers who were interested in getting a copy of the broadcast.

Unfortunately, the broadcast mp3 is too large to share via WordPress, but this brings me to my next point.  Even if I were able to share the broadcast, it still wouldn’t do the recordings justice.  Whittling down seventeen tapes’ worth of material for a thirty minute broadcast meant leaving out entire interviews for the sake of continuity.  This coming semester, the LP hopes both to begin the process of archiving the tapes in the library and to create a series of brief themed podcasts to share on the blog.  We may also reopen community recording in some small scale way.  Keep your eyes on the blog, because 2011 has a lot in store for the LP.

Big thanks to Thy for keeping up with the blog over the holidays!

(This entry sponsored in part by The Passive Voice.)

Thank you!

Posted by on November 22nd, 2010 § 0

Yesterday was the last day of Listening Project recording, and now I’ve got about 15 cassette tapes!  I knew my fears were unfounded, but as a friend of mine said today, “it’s the curse of academia.”  You never know if you (or anyone else) will make the deadline.  I have clandestinely kept a photobooth diary of my feelings: every time I received something for the Listening Project (tapes, tape recorders, recordings…), I’d snap a little photo of myself with said item(s).  So, for your viewing pleasure, a triptych of emotion:

In other news, I’ve already received some emails and notes from people who didn’t make the deadline but still want to participate.  SO, to accommodate you slackers (it’s a term of endearment), I’ve decided to leave the Humanities Center tape recorder out for a little bit longer. All the materials you need are available in the office (and I may create some kind of basket outside the office to make the process even more convenient)… don’t forget to sign the recording release form!

And of course, a BIG thank you to everyone who has already participated.  I cannot wait to hear what you have to say.

Office Hours!

Posted by on November 19th, 2010 § 0

I know how setting deadlines works.  The end date for any open submission period is always the day that all the submissions come pouring in.  I’ve been in this position before and it’s turned out fine, but it’s always a little scary to think about.

This Sunday is the END of the open recording period! These weeks have flown by.  I know many people have pledged recordings, but I’m just not going to be able to believe it until I see it, you know.  I guess I’m a person of little faith (or maybe that’s just the nervousness speaking… I think it’s probably that one).

To help people overcome their fear of recording, the LP will be holding “office hours” throughout the day on Sunday.  Our lovely student volunteers will be hanging around various tape recorders to help you get started (and, of course, you can still make recordings on your own, if you so desire).  Here’s the breakdown:

1:00-2:00 = Ryan Gym
2:00-3:00 = Roberts Basement
3:00-4:00 = DC Basement
4:00-5:00 = Ryan Gym
8:00-9:00 = Roberts Basement

You can drop in, or email thogarth@haverford.edu if you’d like to reserve a specific time slot (10 or 15 minutes should do the trick).

Happy recording!

Roadblocks and getting around them

Posted by on November 16th, 2010 § 0

The Listening Project is like a parasite.  I worded that very carefully — “like a parasite” — which is to say it exists within the Haverford community and also depends upon the Haverford community to survive.  Your roadblocks and hesitations become our roadblocks and hesitations; the harder it is for you to record, the harder it is for the LP to fulfill its goal.

The most common hesitation: It’s intimidating.  I’m not sure what I’d say.  I have to come up with something good.

Good gracious!  Further proof that the Haverford community is too thoughtful and wonderful to believe!  I now realize that perhaps the scariest part of the Listening Project is also the part that I thought would make it so appealing: you really don’t have to prepare much.  The goal is really to capture stories and reflections on Haverford as they arrive in your brain.  It’s scary to think that you can do this without preparing a lot.  Picking the “right” interview partner can prove challenging… even intimidating.

So… I’ve come to help!  During the opening event, we talked a bit about pairing: how to pick a good interview partner and the different kinds of pairings we listened to.  Here are a couple suggestions to help you pick your ideal interview partner:

  • Partner-in-crime: Who can you think of that shares some of your memories?  Did you ever climb the field house roof or go tunneling?  How did you meet your best friend: at supafun? at breakfast? in a really hard class?  Even if you don’t have a specific story in mind, joining up with someone who knows you well can really help the storytelling process.  Just pick one of our general questions as a jumping-off point and see where it leads you…
  • Roommate: Whatever this means to you — freshman year roommate, current roommate (maybe both!) — roommates are often the people who remember little details that other people might forget.
  • Adversary: Hm… I guess this word sounds a little combative.  What I really mean is: can you think of anybody who you love to debate with?  Is there someone whose views on Haverford are radically different from yours?  I bet sitting down and asking them about their opinions and experiences would be informative for everyone.  (The flip side of this would also work — is there someone who feels the same way about Haverford as you do?  Talk about what you love… or hate.  Remember the question: “What do you hope will change at Haverford? Never change?”)
  • Significant other: Fairly self-explanatory.  Some of our favorite interviews were between married couples… and hey, we all know that Havermarriage exists and persists within the Haverbubble.

Happy recording!  (And check back soon for more information about our “Last Chance Office Hours” on Sunday…)

Audacity and Audaciousness

Posted by on November 11th, 2010 § 1

I’ve had this one up my sleeve for a little while, so I think it’s about time I shared it with you.  When I describe the Listening Project, I’ve come to anticipate the question, “Why cassette tapes?” and the inevitable follow ups, “Why not go digital?” and “How are you going to convert to digital?”  I usually just reply that I have my ways and it isn’t that hard.

Now I have proof: Testing!

Behold!  A little while ago I made a quick recording to test out the tape recorders when they arrived.  As you can hear, I was a little over excited and started speaking too early (always wait at least five seconds), but you’d better believe that this digital recording was once (and actually, still is) on a cassette tape.  You’ll also probably notice that I am the most interesting and loquacious person alive.  You’re probably expecting me to say that I did this by magic… especially given my tendency to attribute most things to magic (see earlier posts).  I aim to surprise, though, and I will tell you the secrets: (1) male-male audio cables, (2) a free Audacity download, and (3) Digital Bits.

This post was sponsored in part by parentheses.

3 out of 4 ain’t bad

Posted by on November 5th, 2010 § 0

The Listening Project recording stations exist!  They were painting in Roberts Basement today, so that location will have to wait until tomorrow… but on the bright side, it will feel less gloomy with a nice fresh coat of paint!

Our opening event went really well yesterday: delicious food, intelligent guests, and lots of great conversation on interviewing techniques.

So, with these two things in mind, I will spend the next few entries enlightening you, O Readers, in various ways.  I’ll unveil pictures of the various recording stations (one by one, naturally) and caption them with some insights and questions from our discussion last night.  Hoowah!  Up first: the DC Basement.  It’s a little tucked away, but never fear: it exists… and this is what it looks like!

Is interviewing/being interviewed by someone you know restrictive or liberating?  Often, if the interviewer knows you well, the “interview” can turn into a conversation, a mutually told story.

Focus Group!

Posted by on September 24th, 2010 § 0

Well, the final Listening Project focus group has come to a close and the list of interview questions is set! They’ll be available online presently and so will the procedure for recording.  Yesssss!

During the focus group discussion (which occurred over cups of tea I brewed myself thankyouverymuch), we talked a lot about what makes the Listening Project a compelling initiative for the Haverford community.  And, of course, because I believe it is compelling, I wanted to share what we came up with: nothing like this has ever happened before.  Okay, that’s a cliché, but it’s also true (Listening Project recording is also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity… but we won’t go there).  Student voices are sorely underrepresented (read: absent) in the oral history recordings housed in the college archives.  Faculty and administration have had their say and effectively preserved themselves in Haverford history… but what about the rest of us?  We know you’ll have something to say about our questions, so check back soon!

Keep your eyes peeled for information about the Inaugural Day of Recording and training dates for Student Interviewers.  And, as always… get in touch, if you’re interested!

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