A Sneak Peak at Stories Matter, Beta Version

Posted by Erin Jessee

As always, the development of Stories Matter is moving forward. Jacques is in the process of putting the finishing touches on a few lingering issues, such as the export feature which will allow users to export the contents of their databases to HTML. Here’s a teaser of Stories Matter in its current state:

In brief, the above screen shot captures the main interface for Stories Matter. You’ll notice the media player is central to the software – the result of a conscious decision to focus the gaze and attention of the user on the narrator. The media player works with mp3s and FLVs, and allows the user to listen to video and audio files, as well as create and edit clips.

To the upper left of the media player, you’ll see the default project browser, which can be substituted for the playlist browser according to the user’s needs. This feature allows users to view and navigate easily between projects, interviewees, and sessions.

To the lower left is the tag cloud, a feature which highlights key themes being discussed in the project by drawing on the tag terms entered by users in the process of adding sessions and creating clips. Our hope is to tweak the tag cloud further prior to the public launch, so that users can generate a tag cloud based on tag terms related to a whole project, individual interviewee, or individual interview session.

Beneath the media player are the session, reflection and meta-narrative spaces, which allow the user to record important details and reflections related to the interviewee and the experience of “deep listening” to the narrative. Users can move from the interview information, which is the default setting, to the reflection and metanarrative spaces by selecting these options from the breadcrumbs provided at the bottom.

To the upper right of the media player, is the space for biographical information. This summary remains present whenever a user is listening to an interview session or interacting with clips, so as to provide some life history context to otherwise fragmentary information. Our hope is that this will encourage users to not only engage with the individuals who are narrating their stories but also seek to learn more about these individuals, rather than just scavenge the interviews for relevant “data.”

Finally, to the bottom right of the media player is the space for session notes. This space is always visible when interacting with a session and allows the user to keep track of key information related to the session. In my case, I chose to use it to keep track of the clips I created while listening to my interviewee’s story, but ultimately users can choose to use this space in any way that suits their needs.

In its current state, Stories Matter is close to a release point; when it is ready to be released a downloadable Beta version will be posted on this website. However, in order to ensure a minimum number of bugs, and presentable, open-source code, Jacques has requested a little more time to both continue testing the software and integrate the remaining features. Please stay tuned for additional updates…

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