Saturday, February 28, 2015

Kind of a cool idea: a recorder that allows you to pin back later audio onto an earlier part of a recording. You, an interviewer, are recording an interview, and you hear the interviewee say something interesting about XXX. You hit a button on your audio recorder, the interview goes on to YYY and ZZZ, and then you say, "Can you say a little more about XXX?" You hit the button again and the interviewee expands on XXX. You hit another button. On the first button press, a pin is attached at the point where the interviewee mentioned XXX, when you press the button again a thread is attached to the pin with the audio from that point attached. When you press the other button, the thread is cut. The linear track of audio as spoken is preserved the whole way, but now there's another track where you can attach a single excerpt from later parts in the track to earlier parts.

There are, of course, limitations to the method. You can't attach a thread to either YYY or ZZZ with only the two buttons. You may be able to return to XXX depending on how we set the semantics of that first button, but it makes much more sense for that button to do the same thing as before by either pinning to one of the second-track threads in a sort-of skewed tree:

or to re-pin on the base track (p means pin):
Maybe it would be better to have a three-button system to set multiple pins with the first button, a second button to attach the thread to the earliest pin, and a third button to cut the current pin.

I'm focusing on a simple button system which can be managed more or less without thinking about what thread you're on since I think that, when I talk, my model of the conversation has this sort of folding linearity that matches with this system. Obviously, a full tablet computer with a display of these threads would allow for great flexibility, but wouldn't that display get in the way of engaging with the interviewee, the focus of your activity? There's also much more applicability for the simple thing than the complicated pretty thing that's all about itself and not about the thing that you're doing with the thing. I might permit a dial of sorts that allows you to move between pins more freely.