Facebook Fieldwork

Electricity finally returned to Lake Sebu at around 3 this afternoon, almost 24 hrs since strong winds and rain toppled a few trees by the highway causing the electricity yo be cut. Weather-wise, I didn’t mind as it was really cold in the evenings.  It also meant a break from all that videoke. What caused a major panic though was not being able to charge my gadgets used for documentation.  This was a more major concern than the lack of water due to the electric pump being unable to work.

Fortunately,  being a Sunday, I decided to just stay put and give both Joel and me a break. It was such a relief when Oyog announced that electricity was back.

This got me thinking how technology has changed fieldwork. More than a decade ago, I used to go to communities with packs of batteries to power-up my camera and recording devices. If those ran-out, I did on the spot transcriptions of music and interviews.  Now, my pack is lighter as I just need 2 sets of re-chargeable batteries and a power pack. All is good until a long brownout, in this case,  almost 24 hours, occurs and my power pack only supplies up to 4000mah. (Note to self: I should have bought the 6000mah power pack instead. Boink!). Suddenly, I feel helpless.

Beyond the need to keep gadgets powered-up, technology has allowed other quirky practices such as Facebook status posts and even posting pictures and videos of fieldwork data. I even get to write a blog!

Cataloguing has changed too. Photos no longer need to ba labelled with film roll numbers. Music and videos are simply labeled with numbers with no need for tape numbers. Really simple now and much cheaper now. Not yo mention lighter for the backpack.

My current fieldwork is as much an eye-opener on T’boli culture for me as much as it is an eye-opener on my work as an ethnomusicologist as it is for me.

Categories: Lake Sebu | Leave a comment

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