Tuesday, 18 October 2011

reading conversations

I'm finally releasing transcriptions of some of the conversations I've recorded, edited and published.

And here's the first. It's the conversation between Adrian Howells and myself. It's called prepared to love. (You can read more about the conversation here and download the audio here.)

I created and designed t
he audio edit to be listened to.


My work is essentially audio. And I'm delighted to say it has been listened to. A lot. It's been downloaded, played online and via iTunes more than a thousand times so far.

But some people have said they'd like to read some of the conversations I've had.

So I'm responding to those requests by publishing some of the transcriptions.

But what started as a way of giving people what they were asking for has become more than that, in two ways worth mentioning.

First, as I've begun to read the conversations, I've noticed how different they are in visual form. How uninflected. How neutral.

And I'm surprised by how much the written word objectifies the content. Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised by that, but it's caught me off guard to see how much is missing in the written word that's provided through the audio word.

But the second thing is exactly the opposite of the first.

It seems to me that the written form is revealing the content as well as concealing it.

I've noticed things I haven't noticed before.

I've seen things I haven't heard.

I've noticed things about my questions. And their answers.

Missed opportunities.

Seized and unseized moments.

So that's been interesting. And educational.

And one other thing that's been interesting for me: the spaces in the conversations. And how to mark them.

When people talk, they often stop briefly in unusual places. In a way that people don't do when they write.

And sometimes it's in those little gaps people leave (rather than in the words they say) that you catch the mood, the emotion, the uncertainty, the difficulty or simply the choices they make. Those small signals in what's not said that can indicate more sometimes than what is said.

But the question is: how to mark these subtle spaces in the written form?

I don't much like dot dot dot...

It makes it look like a drifting away. And often when people pause briefly, it's anything but a drifting or a fade away. Often the breaks are unexpected. And they certainly don't make sense to read. Not at first anyway. Which is why I think they're so important. There's something very spoken about these written words.

So I wanted to preserve the breaks. I think they tell the listener that someone needed to stop talking just for a short time, maybe simply in order to say the next thing.

So, after much thought, I've gone for a slash. A light grey slash.

Like this /

And it seems to be working /

so I'll keep going with that if that's okay.

Finally, I want to say thank you to Miss Molly Grier who's been working on the transcriptions with me recently. Molly and her family have come into my life in a very gentle way this year. Apart from the fact that Molly's intelligence and honesty have been a fresh and lovely influence in the way I think about some of the conversations I've been having recently, she's also been listening and transcribing some of the podcasts for me. And she's doing a grand job. So thanks Molly. You and your work are much appreciated.

So - enjoy the transcriptions if you're visually inclined.

Adrian and prepared to love will soon be joined by:

Anjelo and when saw myself on fire here. (Audio on iTunes here.)

Jane in why not me? (Audio here).

Another Adrian (a pain doctor) in you don't talk here. (Audio on iTunes here.)

And Chris and Jacqui in normal people here. (Audio on iTunes here.) And you can read more about this conversation on the blog here.

Thanks for listening.

And for reading.


  1. i believe that our society lacks of respect,without which there is nothing... no listening ...no understanding...no empathy...and so no hope....so if you want to start making difference...how about teaching people...that? i think even wars in this century are disrespectful ...full of military cowards hiding in cities with inocent children and women using their back as a shield....what about nhs...and government cutting nursing staff...despite of already poor quality care that has been linked to time and staff constains...and the nurses are generalised as guilty of crime of negligence...can we actualy change anything if what people see and feel is a fear of what is the government going to do next? ...is it actually listening? if yes who? and who are those who talk? you see...people dont even vote anymore...because they are not respected...not listened to,and so they dont trust..dont believe and hope...

  2. I certainly agree with you that respect is one of the most important aspects of any society and for me one of the core principles of a good conversation.