Archives for July 2006
InqScribe in the Amazon
We hear from InqScribe users on a regular basis, and the ways in which InqScribe is being used go far beyond our original expectations. Here’s one example.
Conrad Feather is an anthropologist “working with Amazonian indigenous peoples helping them to defend and protect their rainforests from illegal timber extraction and irresponsible oil and gas companies.” He wrote:
Much of the rights based work involves helping the communities affected monitor these impacts and communicate them to the Peruvian government and the press so that their lands and rights will be respected. As part of this work myself and my colleagues (we have formed a small organisation called Shinai, www.shinai.org.pe) take many testimonies with both video and audio equipment. Much of our work involves transcription as many of these peoples, especially the elders, only speak their own language and do not speak in Spanish, the national language of Peru. For some time we have been looking for a transcription software that enables us to do this effectively and most importantly is simple enough for indigenous peoples themselves to use in order to transcribe themselves. We came across InqScribe a few weeks ago and since then I have been trying it out in Lima with a young indigenous man from a remote community in the Southern Peruvian Amazon. It was his first time using a computer but within an hour he was using InqScribe with ease and facility and transcribing the words of his elders.
We weren’t surprised to find that Conrad was using InqScribe in his own antropological research. But the notion that Julio, a Nahua, was using InqScribe to capture his own elders’ oral histories was pretty exciting. We asked Conrad to tell us more about Julio.
Julio is 24 years old and lives in the village of Serjali, in one of the remotest corners of the Peruvian Amazon. In June 2006 he travelled seven day’s by dugout canoe, boat and bus to Lima, Peru’s capital city for the very first time. Until Julio was four years old he lived deep in the forest with his people the Nahua fiercely repelling the efforts of missionaries, oil companies and lumberworkers to contact them. They were represented as “primitive savages” which in turn was used to justify the attempts to pacify or exterminate them. They avoided all contact with outsiders until four Nahua were captured on a beach by lumberers.
This first contact turned the Nahua’s world upside down. Within 6 months over half had died from flu and pneumonia; diseases that they had never experienced before. The lumber workers exploited the Nahua’s sudden weakness to invade their territory to exploit its valuable mahogany. The Nahua were mocked and taunted for their appearance and so they cut their hair, shed their monkey teeth necklaces and earrings and put on t-shirts and shorts. Slowly they began to recover and rebuild their lives. Their lives had changed dramatically but they began to fight back. Finally in 2002 they succeeded in throwing off all loggers from their land. Until June, Julio had never even seen a computer but within an hour he was using InqScribe to transcribe and translate the stories of his parents and grandparents that he had recorded in his village. The Nahua have already begun to write their present, they are only now starting to rewrite their past.
To learn more about Julio, the Nahua, and Conrad’s work, be sure to visit the Shinai web site.
Complex Visualizations Roundup
Tufte’s new book Beautiful Evidence is out. I find Tufte’s books valuable as illustrated case studies for visualization rather than a series of general design principles. He writes about the new book’s purpose this way:
Science and art have in common intense seeing, the wide-eyed observing that generates empirical information. Beautiful Evidence is about how seeing turns into showing, how empirical observations turn into explanations and evidence presentations. The book identifies excellent and effective methods for presenting information, suggests new designs, and provides tools for assessing the credibility of evidence presentations.
This book also contains Tufte’s The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint critique as a chapter. My copy is on order.
In other visualization news, I happened across visualcomplexity.com, a site that is cataloging a stupendous variety of visualizations of complex networks.
VisualComplexity.com intends to be a unified resource space for anyone interested in the visualization of complex networks. The project’s main goal is to leverage a critical understanding of different visualization methods, across a series of disciplines, as diverse as Biology, Social Networks or the World Wide Web. I truly hope this space can inspire, motivate and enlighten any person doing research on this field.
Definitely worth a visit.
InqScribe and Final Cut Pro
We’ve recently seen a number of Final Cut Pro users taking a look at InqScribe. That’s fantastic and somewhat unexpected, if only because our background that led to the design of InqScribe was in educational research, not filmmaking or broadcast video.
But we’re certainly glad to see the interest and are working hard to add a few new features to make InqScribe even more attractive to FCP users.
We’d also love to hear from more FCP users about what they want out of InqScribe and how it might be able to better complement work in FCP. If you have any suggestions, please let us know.
Copying and pasting on Windows
I want to note a copy/paste issue that affects Windows users.
The problem is that when you copy text in InqScribe, the copied text uses a single return character (CR) to denote line breaks. The standard practice on Windows is to use two characters, a return and a line feed (CR/LF), for this purpose. (The characters used for line breaks differ by platform: Macs have traditionally used CR, Windows CR/LF, and Linux and Unix use just LF.)
Some Windows applications are smart enough to handle pasted text with CR-based line breaks. For example, Word will paste that text just fine. Some other applications, including Notepad and (sadly) InqScribe itself, don’t handle CR-based text very well : the text is pasted in as one giant paragraph, because the CR characters are replaced with spaces.
This is a particularly noticable issue if you’re doing something like using Word to spell check your transcript. In this case, you’re probably copying the text from InqScribe, pasting it into Word, spell checking in Word, and then copying the checked text and pasting it back into InqScribe. This process works great until the last step, when you paste the text back into InqScribe and discover that all your line breaks are gone.
We’ll fix this in the upcoming version 1.6. In the meantime, here’s a workaround.
If you are using Word to do the spell checking, you need to do a global search and replace before you copy the text and paste it back into InqScribe. In Word’s Find/Replace dialog, search for “^13” and replace it with “^p”. The ^13 will find all instances of CR, which Word has cleverly disguised as regular paragraph marks. The ^p replaces each instance of CR with a real paragraph mark. Once you’ve done this, copy and paste back into InqScribe, and you’re fine.
 Note that InqScribe imports CR-based text just fine. This issue only applies to text pasted via the Edit menu.