Listen first of all to the following audio-only recording
here of an interview
and then contrast it with the video recording
(click on time stamp 00:10:27:22). Think about what
kind of extra information is made available with the video
track, and consider how significant is this information for
understanding what is being said and how?
In deciding to use a visual recording medium in original
fieldwork, it is clearly important to ensure that the resulting
data record succeeds in portraying what it is intended to
portray. Visual images fail to convey many aspects of the
social world (see
Hastrup 1992). Cameras cannot capture all aspects of reality,
and should not be presumed to offer a fuller or more accurate
representation of the field than written text alone.
However, there may be a potential conflict in choice of recording
medium between the priorities of the originators and the potential
priorities of re-users:
1. For the demands of the original research project, visual
images that work best will be those that have captured data
that are primarily visual: i.e. ones in which visual information
conveys something significant about the research topic.
In other words, they are visually significant within the
parameters of the research questions at hand. It follows
that ensuring that the images generated do indeed communicate
clearly for the needs of the study at hand should be a key
concern of the originator. There is no point using a video
or stills camera just because the equipment is available.
2. For the demands of re-use, however, where future research
questions and priorities are as yet unknown, the extra information
provided by a visual record (such as gesture and facial
expression, the spatial semiotics of the research setting
or the visual documentation of environmental changes) may
indeed be highly valued.
For the demands of re-use, there is therefore an argument
in favour of using visual recording media as extensively as
possible in original fieldwork in order that subsequent re-users
may have access to the greatest variety of informational modes
possible (without actually being able to have participated
in the original fieldwork setting). In this sense, a video-recorded
setting displays and preserves a multiplicity and diversity
of signs that arguably allow a more flexible and historically-richer
re-use by later researchers.
However, against this, it is clearly neither feasible nor
desirable to direct originators to make recordings of data
they would not otherwise wish to make, simply for the demands
of creating a full historical record for the future. This
dilemma returns us to one of the key questions underlying
data-archiving for re-use: how far if at all should the demands
of later re-use influence how projects are conducted? This
is not a question that this Guide can resolve, but it is one
that is important to bear in mind.