An Ecology of Influence

I’ve included this online academic journal article [CIWIC/DMAC: An Ecology of Influence at Columbia College Chicago] an example of my audio editing skills, as well as my copywriting skills. I co-write the introduction with my colleague Ames Hawkins, but most of the work went into the audio recording and editing for my particular section of the article [“A Mess of Influences“].

The initial impulse to write the article came from the realization that so many of my colleagues and I at Columbia College Chicago had attended the annual CIWIC/DMAC summer institute over the years. We wanted a text that not only detailed how CIWIC/DMAC has had an influence on us individually, but also to explore how the institute might have had lasting effects on our Columbia College’s larger writing program.

We decided that the six of us should have a face-to-face discussion about those influences. I thought it would be a good idea to record it. I ended up using a Zoom H6 portable recorder and separate microphones, one for each of the discussants. I recorded each person on to their own separate track in order to give me the most options for creative editing techniques later.

I had started thinking about “influence,” as it related to our local institution, as something more ambient than narrative. As we gathered more CIWIC/DMAC alumni at Columbia, the more the influence grew. This influence-model seemed to be more appropriate than trying to connect particular institutional elements to the influences of particular people with ties to CIWIC/DMAC. And so, I was after a text that made more of an ambient argument than a linear one.

I ended up identifying a few common themes emerging from our discussion. Then I cut the audio tracks into smaller snippets capturing particular words and phrases from each of the participants. Then I reorganized those snippets according to themes, introducing each theme with a brief note I recorded during the editing.

Ultimately, I’m not totally happy with the product, but I am satisfied. The editing is clean. I’m okay with the structure of the text, too. I just think I fell a little short in terms of clarity. I’m still trying to figure out if that is just the nature of an ambient argument, or something particular to this particular effort.

[Skills/Practices/Equipment: Audio recording setup to capture six different speakers, each on their own discrete audio track. Audio editing of those tracks into large number of smaller pieces reorganized into a larger audio text. Written copy for the article’s introduction, as well as the introductory material for my own audio piece. Hardware: Zoom H6 portable audio recorder, one Rode Procaster microphone, one Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB microphone, four Rode NTG-2 microphones. Software: Hindenburg Journalist