Pedal Transcriba, an Ethnographic Device of (and for) Qualitative Research

Luis Felipe Rosado Murillo, CNAM/IFRIS

Boston 2017: Open

In this presentation I demonstrate the process of building a USB-based pedal for audio and video transcription with Free and Open Source technologies. The goal is two-fold: first, to show how open prototyping platforms can help us quickly build tools for research in humanities and social sciences; and, second, how the very process of prototyping can be part of an ethnographic project to explore the sociotechnical conditions for participating in collaborative forms of tech development. This project was created in the context of my own field research in collaborative spaces for hardware and software development called “hackerspaces” in the Pacific region. Based on participant observation, I started to learn not only about the circuits of exchange and circulation of projects, experts, and technical objects, but also to have a first-hand, hands-on experience with hardware projects. “Pedal Transcriba” was born out of the necessity of transcribing long audio interviews but also out of a research demand for thinking through the tools, materials, and the exchange practices of independent computer expert and hobbyist collectives. For this presentation, I will bring 'hardware kits' for 4S participants and conduct a demonstration on how to assemble a simple USB-based pedal. I will also describe how to obtain all the documentation (and the sources) as a field research exercise: putting together all the elements of the “sociotechnical circuits” which are necessary to create an Open Hardware project (from design to fabrication, distribution, usage, and transformation).

Published: 01/30/2023