The ‘field’ can be so many places… whatever the location, the equipment selection should be adaptable and ready at all times. Selecting field tools relates very well to the outcome of data, organization, and results.
One of my favorite, and most reliable, tools is the iPhone. The photos taken contain GPS points that can later be entered into GIS. The Notes app can be used for impromptu note-taking. The Memos app can be used for impromptu oral history collection, unless of course, one travels also with their Livescribe.
Recording data, especially oral histories, serves as a reference point for data collected. Once the researcher collects the data, the data then must be transcribed and translated (when necessary), which can take up to 14 hours for a non-professional and as few as 6 hours to transcribe one hour of recording – if it is a good quality recording of two people and one language. If the recording quality is poor due to weather (wind), loud noises, or poor equipment, the transcriber must replay the recording many more times to sort out the sounds. Additionally, if translation is needed, the time to translate could double the original transcription time to ensure accuracy in translation; however, if someone uses the Livescribe with a tablet, this time may be shortened. The Livescribe can serve five main functions: (1) creates a recording, (2) digitizes notes written on dot paper, (3) connects recording with digitized writing (this makes it easy to find data within the recording since a tap on the digitized note will allow for playback from that point–a great feature for archaeologists collecting ethnographic data while mapping a site), (4) transcribes notes, and (5) assists in organization if utilized by the user.
The Livescribe can shorten the amount of time for transcription because it can transcribe what is written (and can be edited by the user if the software reads handwriting incorrectly). Editing the transcriptions can decrease over time especially if the writer has good and clear handwriting for the software to realize. Therefore, it is important to write as clearly and as much as possible to assist in the transcription function of the equipment. Below is an example of writing on dot paper and the digitization of that writing on the iPhone.