Sunday, January 5, 2014

Tools for the Researcher

“I don’t read biographies for moral instruction, or for a history lesson. I want to know what people are saying about me.”
Bauvard, Some Inspiration for the Overenthusiastic
 Footnote 1

I have a selection of items that I use when I am speaking with someone about their story, or I can use if I am speaking with a family member or friend.

Questionnaire – I have created a 7 page questionare – which I sometimes give to my subject to complete as best they can, and/or I use it to trigger questions.  It will be available to download on my new website which is under construction.  There is no shortage of questions that can be asked and each question and answer can trigger more questions.  It is impossible to put together a definitive list - but it is helpful.

Clearly a note book and pen is essential – I make sure I have plenty of spare pages in my notebook and generally only write on the right hand page (I am a right hander) though occasionally I write extra notes on the left hand side.  Notes to me mostly- often with arrows if it is relevant to information on the right hand page.  (I like a pencil - and I make sure I have several in my bag - just in case)

I also carry with me a Sony Digital Recorder  - My Sony which has been very reliable – which also has a microphone on a small cord, so that I can set it up and often pin the microphone to the front/shirt of my guest.  I can then download the file onto my computer and when ready I can transcribe it.  I have endeavoured to use voice recognition software in the past, but it wasn’t very successful.  (Note to self:  check for more recent voice recognition software.  The previous program required some preparation which was not easy to do with my client.)

Another tool that I have used with success is a camera with video.  The biggest problem is that many of my subjects have been intimidated by the camera – as I set it up on a tripod, hit the start button and endeavour to ignore it.  Sadly too many folk don’t like being filmed, though I have had huge success using a Sony tablet – for some reason it appears to be less intimidating.  I have a small Samsung digital point and shoot, but I prefer to use my Canon 650D - on a Manfrotto tripod. 
(I have had some success recording with a tablet which I can "set up" and ignore.  For some reason it is not so scary for my subject.)
Another tool that I love using - though sometimes I do have issues with it working properly is a Digital Pen, which when working "remembers" what I have written and I can transfer it to my computer.  Often it is not happy with me.
 Footnote 1 Quote from Good Reads


Kate said...

Cant wait to see your questionaire page it may help me write a music bio!

Di Hill said...

Thanks. A Music Bio? Do you mean a bio for a musician's website?