Minutes Working Group meeting
January 12, 2012
60 Wall Street
Present: Zöe, Molly, Jeff, Lauren, Dave, Robina, Hillel
Minutes transcribed by Hillel [I was a few minutes late to the meeting, so missed the very beginning]
Robina: …investigate why we came to this decision to do transcripts as opposed to traditional minutes, because this is not minutes, this is transcription. It’s two different things, as you have pointed out. And when I first joined this group, or when I was first thinking about joining this group, I was trying to go backwards – since I’ve only been involved since the second week, not with Minutes but with the movement as a whole – trying to go back and figure out why that decision was come to, and I can’t find anybody who knows. I know people who were at the earliest GAs and there was a sort of vote to do it that way, but from my understanding it was very kind of haphazard, people were like, “yeah, we’ll just transcribe it, and that’s great, ok, we all have uptwinkles, the end.” My understanding is there was not a huge discussion of pros and cons of doing traditional minutes versus transcriptions. So I don’t know why we came to that decision, and I don’t know who knows why we came to that decision, because I haven’t been able to track down anybody who does. I do think they’re valuable. I don’t think they’re that user friendly, as you point out, and I don’t think they’re easily searchable either, is the problem. And I don’t see the harm in having what you suggest, which is that we still have a transcript of the entire meeting, but if we tell people where in the audio you can find particular decisions made or particular discussions happen, that seems to me equivalent if in some ways not even better than what we have now because I know that all of us miss stuff. We can’t type as quickly as people talk.
Zöe: And I have clarified that to two Facilitation meetings now – I like going to the meetings – and I said, “guys, I’m very happy that you’re so confident that we can catch every word as it’s happening, but the reality is that we don’t.” And that’s another reason they can’t call on us to do lists meetings, we don’t…
Robina: Oh yeah gosh, I was at that meeting where he wanted me to read that list and, and I was like, “uh, do you really want to hear what I wrote, because it’s people saying ‘um’ and going around in circles. There’s no way that you guys will be able to understand what I’ve written.”
Zöe: Well I tried to clarify, and a couple of them were like, “oh, shit, yeah, okay, sorry about that.” It just didn’t even occur to them.
Hillel: I think if you go back and look at some of the documents that were created about how to take minutes, I think that vision is not minutes. I think that vision is something else.
[at this point Lauren and Jeff joined us, general chatter and hugging]
But yeah, it would be awesome to hear something directly from someone who actually knows.
Dave: Yeah, I think we’re all in agreement on that. And the thing I keep hearing is none of us are against verbatim as…
Hillel: Transcription’s great
Robina: Yeah, I do a lot of archival work too, so I totally understand the value in having text, as opposed to…
Dave: We all think it would be beautiful to have this entire movement recorded.
Hillel: Well, I think that’s the vision.
Dave: But I don’t think that’s minutes
Hillel: Fair enough.
[Zöe and Lauren were having background conversation about where group was in agenda, now jump back in]
Zöe: She just saying that, like we all know Carrie said she has serious opposition to not doing verbatim minutes.
Lauren: I mean, she texted me and said she’s sick so she can’t come “but, comma” [to Jeff, about chair] do you want to share this?
Jeff: Would it be okay if we moved the table over here?
There we go.
Dave: I think everybody’s well aware of Carrie’s position…
Zöe: We’re just sort of discussing how we…well, how I see it is that’s a great goal to reach for, but what can we actually do and keep up with? I went back through all the minutes and made a chart of what we have and don’t have and I was looking at it kind of negatively and someone, I was telling you, actually, turned me around. We have managed to get basically transcribed minutes for two thirds of all the meetings, which is amazing. Conversely, that’s a third that we don’t have, but the positive side is two thirds is pretty amazing.
Zöe: So we’re doing good. But I think there’s frustration that we feel like we can’t keep up, and I know that you take a lot of the brunt for that on yourself [Lauren], and that’s not right either, because it’s not your fault.
Lauren: Yeah, I feel like we’re in a giant hole, and there’s no way to…and because it’s hard to make it happen each week it’s not like we’re making any progress. We’re only getting further into this hole. I don’t know what to do. I feel terrible, but it is the way it is. I don’t know what we should do.
Robina: I think that does speak to…I think that your proposal does speak to a big concern that I have and that I think actually a lot of people have outside of Minutes, which is us getting the minutes up quickly, which is really hard, because it takes almost the entire length of time that you were at Spokes Council or GA to then go back and edit the entire thing.
Zöe: And then posting it takes another 20 minutes.
Robina: Right, exactly. So it’s…we have this deficit right now that I keep…I know you are behind in editing your minutes
Lauren: I’m so far behind.
Robina: And it’s so hard to catch up.
Dave: When you say it takes the same amount of time, my own experience is that it’s more like four or five times the amount of time, because I don’t know…maybe I’m just doing it wrong, but I type fast, 85, 95 words a minute and it’s taking me 12 to 16 hours.
Zöe: You have to hunt through and find
Dave: Going through the audio, it’s a tremendous amount of time.
Robina: The audio has almost made more work.
Lauren: It’s definitely harder with the audio, because you have to stop and go back and its…
Dave: Yeah, what did they say? And people speaking over each other, and you’re trying to figure out how to write that. They’re speaking over each other, and you arbitrarily decide, well, I’ll put this person here and this person here, even though they’re kind of at the same time. Before you got here, the point I made was that I’ve done minutes a lot, for all the groups that I’ve ever worked with, I’ve always done minutes, and it’s never been verbatim. I think everybody…I don’t think minutes is ever understood as verbatim. Transcription is valuable, and I think we all agree on that, it’s very valuable and we love it, but it’s not exactly minutes. Minutes should be something that’s a summary, something I can hand you, if you missed the meeting, and on the way to the meeting you can catch up on what we talked about at the last meeting. I can’t do that with 50 pages of verbatim minutes. It doesn’t have that same value. Minutes does have a value just like verbatim stuff has a value, but they’re different. They serve different roles. And as minutes, I think our purpose should be to create that very quick…and get it posted…
Lauren: Yeah, people are furious with us, basically, because everybody wants to spend the money that they’re allowed to spend, and I have separate reservations about that, but if it’s our responsibility to put them up, I would rather be able to say “here they are, spend your money.”
Zöe: I mean, I think it’s a little…oh, go ahead.
Hillel: I’m just…we have limited time, so I want to make sure that we frame this so that we don’t end up agreeing with each other for an hour and then nothing happens, because I don’t think we can really consense on anything without Carrie here. I mean, we can, but I think that we do that at some peril.
Zöe: Well, one meeting maybe isn’t enough to…
Hillel: Yeah, so I want to sort of…maybe we should sort of lay out a roadmap for what we want to do in this meeting, because there are other things we need to talk about too, I think, that may in fact be more time sensitive. So, I don’t know…I unfortunately neglected to bring a copy of the agenda items, so…
Zöe: I think having a roadmap of a way forward for now is good and one idea I have to kind of do that is if we can agree…well, it’s to set out roles, because right now there’s the minutes taker, and that encompasses everything. I think we should have someone who’s in charge of the recorder; somebody who’s the summary taker, who’s at the meeting, who takes down what will be in that night’s summary; a transcriber, who is possibly completely separate from that person. And that way…and I think we can maybe consent not to get rid of verbatim minutes, but what is the minimum we have to get up right away? I think that’s the summary, because I think Accounting can use…
Lauren: They’re happy with a summary
Zöe: So I think as an absolute bare minimum we should set out a roadmap how to get that up…I’ve been doing it every night, but when I pass out and don’t do it, it doesn’t get put up, and I don’t want to take that on as a, from that role. And I’m doing it by tweets, which has made me screw up a few times. So I think the person going to the meeting for Minutes, with the recorder should be the person to make the summary. Absolute minimum, not all that we should do or want to do, but we have to have a minimum that we can keep up with.
Lauren: I agree with you wholeheartedly. I think a summary is a much more reasonable thing to try and do for the interim, while we sort out how we transfer these audio files to someone who’s willing to transcribe them, because until that happens, they have to be local to get their hands on those files. That’s my opinion.
Dave: Did you just upload something that shows us how to do that?
Zöe: Yeah, I have uploaded a how-to in terms of posting stuff. It’s not formatting, you know, everyone does summary a little different, maybe we want to come up at some point with what has to be in there, but yeah, it tells you, if you have the sign in info, click on this, make sure you click on that, make sure you put this here, how to link things, all of that. So it’s, I think it’s okay, but I need someone else to read it and be like, “that doesn’t make sense” or “it does.”
Hillel: I looked at it quickly and I thought it made sense.
Zöe: Okay, yay! So without getting rid of wanting to do verbatim minutes, that’s still maybe our ultimate goal, maybe at this point do we want to agree to take on the role of doing the summary each night rather than if you’re there you have to do the minutes?
Robina: We were having a conversation before you came, not to totally ignore your point about the agenda, I just wanted to catch them up a little. We were having…Dave mentioned this, what the original goal was to do transcription and I was saying I’ve been trying to investigate that for a while. You know Tom North, right, because the only sense I’ve gotten from it was that there was this desire to be completely transparent in teh beginning. That’s pre Livestream and pre live tweets and pre money to get an audio recorder, that’s pre all of this infrastruture that we have now, which is not that we have a ton of infrastructure, but we have a certain amount of it. And so I wonder if the value of transparency is served in alternate ways now because we have the ability…like, there was no way to even…nobody had a computer in that first week. A computer was donated and then, I don’t know.
Lauren: I can’t speak to the reason that it’s verbatim. I don’t know why that is. I can guess. I mean, someone came up to me yesterday from the Occupy Farms and they said that we missed one word from…we changed “past trips” to “transportation” and because of that Accounting’s not going to pay this guy back because they want money for food reciepts, but Accounting says, “no, it’s transportation, so we’re not going to repay you for food” which, I think that’s an argument for verbatim and the audio recordings. That will get lost in a summary.
Zöe: If Accounting wants exact verbiage, Livestream is there for them to go through.
Jeff: And the audio recordings.
Zöe: I don’t know when we ever agreed to be the bottom line for Accounting.
Robina: Yeah, I don’t know that that ever happened.
Lauren: No, it’s just sort of shifted to that recently, in the last month I feel like all of a sudden they’re like
Zöe: It’s a nice idea, but it…
Dave: And if we created a roadmap for that audio, like I’ve suggested…
Robina: It would be very easy for people to literally hear
Dave: …Accounting could go, “oh, at 18 minutes they talk about this proposal.” However we want to do that, but I think that would be something again, more doable. The summary and then maybe we have a progression. You start with the summary then maybe we create the roadmap for the audio file and…so it’s a little more detailed, a little more detailed, and then you get to transcription. You know, but we bite off that first chunk like Zoe’s talking about.
Zöe: Very very minimum
Dave: So we get that out right away and then later on, if these things come up, maybe by that time Finance has the roadmap that they can look at and can find out…can go, “oh, we should listen at 18 minutes.” It doesn’t take a whole lot of their time either, they can go, “oh, it’s within this timeframe” and sit down for five minutes and listen to it.
Zöe: I think we need to talk to Accounting about it, because it’s nice that they want us to have everything perfectly, but they’re not giving us any support for that, like people…
Dave: Well, that’s the thing, you know, like suggesting we ask everyone else what they want us to do; it’s like, well, are you going to help? It’s one thing to want transcription, which I think everybody here agrees is valuable, but it’s another to actually do the work. It’s very difficult. We’re biting off a lot more than we can chew.
Molly: Sorry, I just walked into this conversation. Are you suggesting doing a roadmap and then moving from there into transcription?
Dave: My suggestion was, well Zoe…
Zöe: My idea was, let’s start with the absolute bare minimum we feel we have to put up, which I think would be the summary. Bare minimum, not enough, but if we get that up, the basics are covered. And then let’s make a roadmap, okay, what is better than that but not transcription? A roadmap with audio, and so on and so forth. We want transcription, but right now we’re frustrated that we can’t keep up.
Molly: Is Carrie here?
Lauren: No, she’s sick.
Dave: We’re all aware of her position, and we’re definitely not going to make a decision in that regard because she’s not here.
Hillel: I would like to not make a decision tonight also. I think this discussion is useful.
Lauren: We need to find a way to move forward between tonight and next Thursday. Because otherwise we’re going to be another week in place that we can’t…
Robina: In a hole.
Lauren: If we could talk about the summary in addition to finding a way to post the audio, this week. Like, I don’t know how to make the files smaller, someone from the Tech Working Group was maybe coming tonight…
Dave: They initially were and and now they’re not, but I have been going back and forth with those guys. Tech’s been really awesome. They’re looking into right now…I gave them one of our audio files and they’re contacting the people who gave us the phone number we have, that company to see if they can run that through their system and spit out a transcript, so I’m waiting to hear back from them on that. That’s interesting. So we have some things that are going on with Tech. The other thing would be to create a sound cloud and then you could
Jeff: That’s a really good idea.
Dave: And then people all over the country and the world could partake in transcribing parts of it, almost like a wiki. And then they’ve got the sound like a sound cloud. So we have some stuff through Tech. A cloud could be where all of us access that one audio file, and then maybe like you do five minutes, and you do five minutes and on and on. But then you’re all working on it together, so many hands make light work. But that’s all Tech stuff and we don’t know much yet, but they are helping us in that regard, looking at some different ways to increase workflow.
[Zöe leaves to join Facilitation for GA]
Lauren: We don’t have anyone to take minutes for tonight, so I guess I’ll probably try and go over there for 7.
Dave: I just started a new job, I’m sorry.
Lauren: No, Antonia is on for tomorrow, if anyone can do Saturday or Sunday that would be awesome. We don’t have to decide right now, but we don’t have anyone for those days either, so.
Molly I could do tonight, but I only have like an hour battery on my computer.
Lauren: Yeah, I’m in the same boat, really, with the recorder, but. Well, if we’ve established that a summary is acceptable, if…
Dave: Well, I guess…right now, how do we make that decision now, to reword it: we’re definitely not giving up on verbatim minutes at this point, I think everyone wants to hear what Carrie has to say, but I think we’re trying to come up with a way right now that we can actually deal with in the meantime. So how does everybody feel about this idea of doing a summary, at least the barebones, and the other idea Zoe mentioned was, right now, she’s the only person uploading these summaries and so if you did minutes or I did minutes we’d be responsible to upload that summary, that way we’re all sharing.
Robina: And we’re trying to figure out how to get the audio…
Dave: Yeah, we don’t know about that.
Lauren: I would just feel more comfortable with our choice if we could just say within the next x amount of days before the next meeting we’d be able to have the audio with the summaries because I feel like that’s a good…
Dave: Has that been attempted, to upload them?
Lauren: They’re too big, the files are too big.
Dave: Yeah, mine are in the gigabytes, they’re huge files.
Lauren: Yeah, they thought I was crazy when I emailed them at Tech, and I’m not smart enough technically to know how strange my request was, but it seemed by the responses that that’s an unheard of size.
Hillel: You’ve been working with Tech on this, right?
Hillel: Okay. That’s fine. I was just going to offer my services to try and step in and work with them a little bit too because I know a bit about this stuff, but if you’re on it, that’s fine.
Dave: Yeah, I’m definitely having a back and forth and hopefully next meeting I’ll have more information. And I thought someone from Tech was going to be here tonight actually, but…they are working on some stuff and that will hopefully help us with our work. But I don’t know about the sizes, I think that’s always going to be an issue, they’re going to be huge. There are ways to compress them, but then you lose quality…
Jeff: Yeah, you lose quality
Dave: And then you risk. Because sometimes you have someone way in the background where you can barely hear them with the best quality that we’re doing, and my fear would be that if we start compressing them, maybe…
Lauren: They’re still huge, even when you compress them, at least the way that I know how.
Dave: Then maybe that’s something else I’ll talk to Tech about, compressing them?
Molly: What if we put them into a Dropbox? I’ve had really good luck with putting long audio into Dropbox.
Dave: If you zip them, they do get small
Molly: Totally, and then we could have an open Dropbox account, that’s the only way I can think to post files.
Lauren: What is that?
Molly: It’s a file hosting website called Dropbox. So we could have an open public folder, and people might have to sign up for an account to get to them, like that feels really sketchy, but it might be, if we have no other way of getting them out there, until we can find a better solution.
Hillel: Do you want to investigate that?
Molly: Hell yeah, definitely.
Hillel: Okay. I’m just worried of you always feeling like you’re the one that has to follow through on everything.
Lauren: Awesome. Design is making us flyers.
Robina: Have we gotten in touch wtih Volunteer Services at all, or whatever their name is?
Lauren: The only woman I know who’s part of that is Christina. She and I have emailed a little bit, to no avail really. I mean, she said she’s put us out on the list and anyone that comes with typing skills she sends to us, but the only person that’s contacted me through her is Judy, who’s kind of like old and lonely and will probably help us transcribe but mostly just wants to talk on the phone sometimes. Which I feel is nice and she’s supportive and she’s a demographic that we need to be aware of and participate with and I don’t want her to feel like we’re not, but as of yet I’m not able to ask her to do anything. But anyway, long story short, no I haven’t really.
Robina: I’m just wondering if long term there’s a way to find people to transcribe who aren’t able to be here. I do know there are people around the country who want to do stuff.
Molly: No, it’s a really good call.
Robina: And since we have the audio now…
Lauren: I think when we get it sorted out we could ask Tech to put us on that first page of new things on the website, you know, if you can do this thing that would be helpful, if they’re looking for a way to get involved.
Dave: Am I correct then now that we don’t have any of our sound files uploaded anywhere?
Molly: Will you send…do you have them all?
Lauren: They’re all spread out. They’re all on the different…do you have a lot of storage on your computer right now? Because we’re running out of room, I think. We’ve got three 8 gig…
Dave: Oh, you’re just leaving them on the cards
Lauren: Some of them are on my computer, but some of them I don’t have. That’s something we need to talk about too, like you take the file then what do you do with it and where does it go and do you put it on your computer, and can you delete it from the audio recorder?
Hillel: I think for that part we should reach out to Archives, and I’m happy to do that.
Lauren: Do you want to take one of the cards?
Hillel: If it’s full I can take it, if not, I don’t think it really matters.
Lauren: I think that one’s got a couple hours. For the GA I’ve been using the four channel. Should I always go to the four channel?
Dave: I usually record to stereo.
Hillel: Yeah, I don’t think the four channel necessarily buys you anything.
Dave: Four channel would be if you had extra mics, actually.
Hillel: And you wanted to mix those channels differently.
Lauren: Oh, so it’s supposed to be on?
Dave: I think stereo would be fine.
Lauren: Which one of these means stereo.
Hillel: Okay, I usually just put it on two channel.
Dave: Well, two channel is stereo.
Hillel: Yeah, so if you look at mine right now, you see where the lights are? That’s where it should be, I think. Because if you do four channel I think you end up getting a lot of extra crap. But I don’t need an SD card to…
Dave: I think she wants us to get the files off of them
Lauren: Yeah, do you want to take a couple of them and be responsible for those?
Hillel: I can back them up. I have multiple external hard drives so I can get some redundancy.
[handing SD cards over]
So, where are we.
Robina: We’re trying to figure out what we’re consensing on
Dave: We have to decide if we consense on this idea of the bare minimum, like Zoe was saying, a summary, and that you’ll be responsible, if you do minutes that night, you’ll upload that summary to nycga.net.
Hillel: Are we consensing on that for this next week, or for the forseeable future?
Lauren: I would feel more comfortable if we did it for this Thursday to next Thursday.
Molly: So the idea is that the bare minimum is just the summary?
Lauren: First goal is a summary of what happened; what was proposed and what passed, what friendly amendments, what announcements. Next goal is uploading the audio and accompanying that with a summary. Next goal is finding someone to transcribe that audio. But for this week…
Molly: I have a transcription pedal. I can commit to doing one, maybe two transcriptions of the audio files. I would rather that we go forward on this map to the audio plan, but it makes me uncomfortable to go forward with abandoning regular minutes, especially since Carrie’s been around for such a long time. I believe that she has really good reasons for wanting to keep that something that we are still serious about.
Lauren: I think I misspoke when outlining the goals. I think definitely a roadmap to the audio should be included in there in our quest to get to full transcription.
Molly: So, like stages.
Dave: You know, the more we can do the more we will do, but at the bare minimum we get out a summary, we share the work in uploading it and then we move on from there to make it even more and more open. And hopefully Carrie will be here next week and we can further that. So do we want to move on the next.
Hillel: Are we agreed on that?
Dave: Are we?
Jeff: Starting with the summary?
Lauren: We need to then talk about does everybody know how to do that.
Molly: I don’t
Dave: Zoe just posted a thing telling us how to.
Jeff: There’s a how-to.
Hillel: But not everybody has the credentials to log in.
Lauren: So everyone needs that.
[login information redacted]
You can log in, and then the format guide that Zoe made is there. She did a nice job. I haven’t seen the final version, but from the one she did before…so just follow that. Some of the buttons are a little tricky, but, it just takes some playing with. If we are posting the minutes I would prefer not to post that password.
Hillel: Yes, I will redact that. I will transcribe these minutes, and I will redact that information.
Lauren: I mean, probably everyone’s honest in the world, but maybe not, and they could change everything and then everyone’s furious with us.
Hillel: I’m with you.
Lauren: Cool, thanks. So we agreed on that, and we know how to do it. We’re still working on the audio. So we wanted to talk about goals, but I think that was Zoe…
Hillel: What’s our time?
Lauren: It’s 6:45.
Hillel: Oh shit. Okay.
Lauren: But I’m comfortable just going to the meeting if you guys want to still have a meeting. Yeah, I’m going to go to GA to start recording
Hillel: What’s the most time sensitive thing that’s left on our agenda?
Robina: Who has the agenda? Does anybody have it?
Dave: So she already created that, right? Creation of a document outlining the processes of our working group?
Hillel: Not exactly.
Dave: Oh, right, that would be the roles she was talking about, right?
Hillel: Yeah, and more like, okay this is how summary is posted, and then it gets edited, and then maybe less of an issue now that we’re talking about changing our process, but my concern, and this is something I raised a long time ago, is that we need to document our own process, because we’re accountable.
Dave: That’s the problem we’re having, like we don’t know why this decision was made about verbatim.
Hillel: Exactly. So we need to document how we’re taking minutes so that we’re trustworthy. Like that thing that came up last week, with people saying, “no, actually this other $500 was consensed to,” but there’s no record of that. If something like that get changed…
Lauren: We need to show everyone how we came to that conclusion to change those minutes to dole out that money. It’s so strange that it falls here, that we have that power to give out money. It seems like the wrong place, but…
Hillel: I mean, just in terms of us…this is more the archivist in me speaking, but documenting the processes by which we create records is really, really important.
Robina: So how would you suggest we go about that, should it be a document that we all collaborate on, or?
Hillel: I think so. And I think when we…because we’re sort of in the process of rethinking how we do this now, and so when we’ve come to consensus on that I think it would be good to get that down on paper so that we don’t have this problem that we have now where we don’t know why we’re doing what we’re doing.
Molly: That would go hand in hand with a mission statement that…
Lauren: Which we need to do by the 20th. I looked online and I didn’t see a current mission statement.
Hillel: Yeah, unless you count that little tag line underneath the…
Dave: We type it
Hillel: Yeah. We write it down.
Dave: There you go. That should be our mission statement. We type it.
Lauren: I’m thinking that we outline in our mission statement the progression that we just outlined as our goals for the group, but more…not as goals but more…do we need to say where we’re at?
Hillel: I mean, I think it can be as vague or specific as we want. I’ve looked at some other groups and some of them are really vague and some of them are pretty specific, but a lot of them tend to fall in that middle ground where it’s “this is what we do” but it’s in broad terms.
Robina: One question I have is how accountable we are to the GA about decisions we make in terms of documentation, because I get the sense…again, I wasn’t there, and I’ve been trying to follow the very limited paper trail and people I know trail to figure out how this decision was orginally made, but that decision was made by the GA, to have minutes, as far as I know. I don’t think a nonexistent minutes group made a decision to…
Lauren: I didn’t know that. So the GA?
Robina: I think the GA made the decision. That’s what I’m getting the sense of.
Lauren: Oh, wow.
Robina: But I don’t know that for sure because it’s not…there were no minutes.
There were very limited minutes, in any event, for the first couple of meetings.
Lauren: Yeah, I was just reading, “Oh we grabbed a pen and paper, because we just knew we had to have minutes.”
Robina: And then there was a computer donated sometime in that first week, and then someone got appointed as the minutes taker and there was one person who was taking minutes, which obviously is not sustainable and that one person, I don’t know who that was, and I don’t know where that person is anymore.
Lauren: Well I heard it was Ketchup from the very beginning.
Robina: That sounds familiar.
Lauren: I haven’t heard her name in a long time, so…
Robina: So yes, I think it was a GA decision from what I can tell, so I don’t know empowered we are to decide what we’re doing. And I think there’s two sides to that I see. I see what Zoe was saying. How can we ask people who are not also willing to step up and also do it to make that decision for us, on the other hand, what we transcribe has repercussions for the movement as a whole.
Jeff: Is that something that we have to bring up to the GA then?
Robina: That’s what I’m asking. I don’t know.
Lauren: I feel the same way as you; torn, because we are a working group and this is the job that we’ve decided to do, so all of the other groups that are doing that job that they decided to do are accountable to the GA. Just because our job is hard and boring doesn’t mean we still don’t need to talk to everybody else about how it’s being done.
Dave: Well, that’s what you were talking about, documenting how it’s being done?
Lauren: I’m sorry, challenging at this moment. I love our job.
Hillel: Although at the same time I don’t feel like…I could be totally wrong about this, but my sense is not that the GA has mandated a particular agenda for any of the working groups, right? The working groups have sort of formed…this is the anarchist part of it…the working groups have formed by people who wanted to do work, and they decided what they wanted to do. And as they have come across particular needs like money, they’ve come back to the GA, but I haven’t ever seen really people coming back…like Direct Action never comes back to the GA and is like “what do you think about doing this action?”, they’re “we need x amount of dollars in order to carry out this action.” So that’s the other side of it. But if what you’re saying is that this was a GA decision in the beginning then it does change things.
Robina: Theoretically, although piggybacking on what you just said, everything was a GA decision in the beginning because there were no working groups. So everything that happened in that first week happened organically from a bunch of people being together and having to make decisions and then as things got bigger it got broken down and those groups were empowered to make decisions for themselves. So I don’t know. It’s a real question to me, and I don’t know what the answer is.
Molly: I feel that because we have such…the kinds of minutes we take have such a direct effect on the GA it’s a little bit different than being like, “oh yeah, we’re going to do an action over here.” We’ve kind of become the GA after the GA is over, and that’s the only way that people really have to go back and know what really was the truth. And I’ve considered that very important and something that, even if it’s a pain in the ass, is something that we need to be accountable for. But it also seems like it’s not going to be a conversation or anything that we can consent on now.
Hillel: There may be other ways that we can provide that, rather than…I think that’s what we’re saying.
Robina: I guess theoretically since we’re taking audio, there shouldn’t be any conflict there, because we can always, depending on what we bring to the GA, we can always go back and transcribe.
Lauren: As long as we find a way to organize it, so we can keep track of where we are with the audio.
Dave: How much audio do we have then?
Hillel: A couple weeks, right?
Lauren: At least. No, at most ten days.
Dave: Are these set up with the date and time?
Lauren: I changed the date and time, but they weren’t initially.
Hillel: But some of the old ones are going to be jacked up, so I’m going to have to try and go back to see what the content is.
Dave: That’s something that we all have to work at, is keeping these files organized. Otherwise, going back and listening to a random GA, oh my god, how are you going to know.
Hillel: That’s one of the things I will.
Lauren: I always say the date into it at the beginning, so that’s helpful and everyone should do that.
Dave: Yes, we should all be mindful of that. Because this thing, it’s probably like mine, you take the batteries out, it loses the date. Mine does, and you have to reset it every time you change the batteries. OK, so where are we at?
Lauren: I’m going to go, I think. But I’d just like to say that I’ll work on the mission statement and email that out. I was hoping to have something today but I didn’t get to that.
Robina: Would it take some pressure off of you if you just uploaded a Google doc and we could all work on it? Because I know you have a lot.
Lauren: Yes, I will do that. And Design is going to make us a half sheet, and will also give us the digital files so you can sent it out to your lists.
Dave: Does everybody know that we have a phone number now?
[everyone says yes]
Hillel: And Google Group?
Molly: I was having trouble getting in.
Hillel: You can’t actually log into it, but it works as an email group, basically.
Molly: So it will just send automatically to my email, I don’t have to do anything?
Dave: Yeah. It’s not like one where you go to it.
Hillel: Yeah, you can’t access it unless your email is a nycga.net email.
Dave: So we’re going to do the summary. We’ll wait until next week to have the bigger discussion. Is there anything else.
Hillel: Is there anything else on the agenda we absolutely need to discuss?
Dave: No, I don’t think so. Minute taker involvement at the meeting?
Hillel: I think that was Zoe?
Lauren: No, I think that was…
Robina: That’s actually something that I…I don’t know where it came from. It’s not that time-sensitive so we can talk about it some other time. I feel like we have more…I was just wondering if we as a group, and this can be part of our idea of ourselves as a group or process, this came to mind for me when you were talking about documenting our processes, what we want our role in meetings to be. Because I see a variety of the ways that minutes takers are participating in meetings, and whether or not we want to step back so that we are being seen as objective note takers who are not getting involved. Because I don’t think this is a huge issue; I don’t think people have leveled accusations against Minutes being biased except for one or two people who decide they want to do that sometimes, but we might want to think about it, if we want to maintain that kind of distance.
Molly: My understanding was that minutes takers, at least at GA, were not part of the conversation in a way, like I’ve definitely been not counted for straw polls, they’ve been like oh, yeah, you’re our minutes taker. I don’t know if that’s across the board with all facilitators, but…
Robina: No, I’ve had facilitators ask me to participate. And then with Spokes, we have a spoke obviously, but…Spokes gets very contentious sometimes, and people want to get involved, and I don’t know how much we want to get involved in certain debates because we’re Minutes, right. I don’t know.
Hillel: On the other hand, we have our identities there in those meetings, but then we have our identities outside of that, and I think a lot of us are involved in this movement outside of just this group. I’m thinking particularly, Dave, of you and Carrie, who are really active on Twitter, and people will get into it with you. And I also don’t want to discount that, or feel like we have to box ourselves in to closely.
Dave: We can be passionate and objective at the same time.
Hillel: Yeah, objectivity is great, but it’s also a little bit of a red herring to try and chase too. It’s not really real.
Robina: No, definitely.
Lauren: I think maybe what I’m hearing you say is in the moment, in the meeting. Because I’ll find myself…I’ll be typing and someone will say something and I’m going to pause for a second to physically respond to what you said, and then because I did that I missed.
Dave: I think the GA makes more sense for that than Spokes, where we actually as a working group have a part, I think of being not just objective, but an active member in that process. The GA definitely makes sense to me, at least, that we take on that role That’s a really great thing.
Molly: I have a really quick question while you’re still here. It sounds to me like we have two very large conversations that we want to have next week and I’m wondering what people’s schedules look like next week and if we might be able to get here a little earlier to try and leave space for that conversation, because I feel like we often…just when we start to get to the ideological interesting stuff it’s time to go to GA or somewhere else. So are people around next Thursday, at least people who are here?
Lauren: The soonest I could be here is probably 5.
Hillel: I am not here at all next week. I’m out of town.
Dave: I could get here at five
Robina: I could get here at five. Five is actually better for me.
[discussion about Skyping Hillel in]
Lauren: I think that’s a great idea, because an hour isn’t enough.
Robina: I often take minutes on Thursday too, and I feel bad I have to leave…
Lauren: So five o’clock next Thursday. This week is summaries. If anyone has questions about how to do that, call me.
Robina: Should we just model them on the previous summaries that have been posted?
Lauren: Yeah, I think that’s good. Tonight I’m going to try to get all the announcements, every friendly amendment, all the proposals, and then what we consensed to. That’s good, right?
Jeff: Did we get that laptop back from…
Lauren: We gave it back to the Livestream people. They got a bunch of their stuff broken or confiscated.
Jeff: Right, but I was under the impression that they only needed it for that night or something.
Jeff: They wanted it back, period?
Lauren: That’s what I understood. Maybe I’m wrong. Carrie made it sound like they wanted it back.
Jeff: No, I was there, I gave it to him, physically.
Lauren: I thought Carrie did. And you think they…
Jeff: I thought he…okay, I’ll figure it out.
Hillel: Lauren, is there anything you need help with, in terms of following up with people and stuff?
Lauren: I don’t really know what to do with the people that want to transcribe right now, but I guess there’s not much to be done right now.
Hillel: Well if you investigate the Dropbox thing, and you’ll keep talking to Tech.
Dave: Yeah, hopefully I’ll get a member from Tech to come to our meeting next week. I’m really going to push for that, because they do sound like they have some great ideas.
Molly: I’m pretty sure I can get them all in a Dropbox, and then share them with people that way, if we have people that are ready to transcribe, so I’ll send out an email probably tomorrow asking anyone who has files to….
Lauren: But how do we get them to you?
Molly: Are they too big to email?
Dave: They’re way too big. I mean, the thing is, for the free Dropbox one file will take up that entire 2 gigabytes.
Molly: I have a real Dropbox account.
Dave: Oh, you have a real one? How many gigabytes in a real one?
Molly: I don’t even know, not enough that I would ever use. I put long audio interviews there.
Dave: OK, but we’re talking about almost 2 gigabytes for each file. It’s huge.
[Lauren leaves for GA]
Robina: We didn’t talk about the thing you sent out about the stenomask.
Dave: I could totally tell you guys a little bit about that. It’s called the stenomask. You can look online at them; I can bring one up and show you guys, but its basically a mask that has a really awesome microphone in it. What it does is it…there are two different kinds, one covers up just your mouth, the other covers up your nose, and the idea is you’re basically repeating everything that is being said at the meeting. And because it’s covered you’re not disrupting the meeting, and it gets a really good solid audio from your voice and then you plug it into Dragon or one of these voice dictation software programs, and it would spit out a verbatim…and the claim is you can get up to 195 words per minute at 95 percent accuracy. So this is something that court reporters use, people in the UN, it’s a really professional thing, so I think the question would be training. I don’t know what’s the learning curve. Zoe said it’s kind of tricky, because when you’re speaking and other people are talking…because the idea is you’re kind of whispering into this thing, that’s why it has a super mic that you can whisper into, maybe that’s the key, you’re not speaking that loud so you can still hear the people. But I would imagine it is a little tricky, and depending on the person, how accurately the software is going to pick up that. Ideally, it would be a really workable way, using technology, to get verbatim minutes. It’s called a stenomask, they run about $200. And the software we can probably get for free through a bit torrent, I’d imagine. The guys in Tech could probably help us with that. But it’s an unknown at this point. None of us have any experience. How easy is it to sit there and say everything everyone’s saying at the meeting. It’s definitely something we should think about. It’s technology that’s out there. The speech recognition software is light years from what it used to be, it’s really powerful at this point. So it could be something that makes transcribing these things much more easy.
Robina: I definitely think we need to be investigating the technology that we have. I don’t know how the listening and talking thing would work…
Dave: The other idea I had too, without even having to spend that kind of money is you take the file we already have and almost do the same thing, so you’re listening to it through headphones, and you’re just repeating everything that was said after the meeting. So that’s another two hours, but it’s still less than what we’re doing now. So you’d sit there with the headphones on listening to it at this point, just repeating every single thing in there, and then just plug it into Dragon, and it would spit it out that way. And then you don’t even have the problem with training or any of that. So that’s another method I thought that we could do it. It still would take – now you’re at the meeting for two hours, three hours, and then you repeat everything. We would be walking dictionaries for the meetings. “No no, I know what happened. Let me tell you.” I could cite it verbatim. We’d be walking encyclopedias of the GA. “Oh, I could repeat that proposal.” But it’s workable, and if the voice recognition software works as well as I understand it to, that’s definitely an option.
Jeff: That’s definitely something we should explore.
Dave: Maybe we’ll address that stuff at the next meeting, but those are some of the tech things, along with the sound cloud.
Jeff: And that would answer the call for verbatim minutes.
Dave: Definitely. I don’t think anyone wants to get rid of that idea completely, but we’re trying to find some way to keep up, and at least where people know we’re doing…because they’re like…they don’t understand how much work we’ve taken on. They’re like, “where are they, the minutes?”
Jeff: But what you said earlier was so important. I’ve never understood minutes to be verbatim either.
Robina: Me either.
Dave: Yeah, you can look at the Wikipedia page on it, you can search for definitions. Like I said, I’ve always done minutes for groups I’ve worked with and it’s always been a summary. And that I can hand you…you missed the meeting, and on the way over you can catch up to what you missed. You can’t do that with verbatim minutes. That has a different value to the movement. Minutes has another role. So I think we just have to split those things and still, everybody’s in agreement, verbatim is awesome. I would love to look back on this movement and go, “wow, we did all that, we kept a history of this movement in a really cool way.”
Molly: Yeah, and it’s so much more doable with the people’s mic.
Dave: Yeah, I can totally keep up with the people’s mic. When people are just speaking like this, it’s…
Robina: Well that’s the thing, there is a value in a verbatim transcript of the meetings. Do we have that, now? I’m not convinced that we do. I miss stuff, I know everyone else is missing stuff. The really early meetings, they missed tons of stuff. You can tell that they are not. So…
Dave: That was my suspicion. I mean, when I did that it was over 50 pages and I was like, really, everyone’s doing this? I really felt like, is this a joke? Everybody can not be doing this. It was 50 pages, over 20,000 words. It was unbelievable. I was like, I’m all for it, but I don’t see how it’s doable. It’s like writing a book every week, if I only do it once a week.
Robina: There’s a lot of burnout in Minutes. We keep losing people.
Dave: Because of that. I think if we make it more doable, more fun, where they can.
Jeff: I want to look into that stenomask thing.
Molly: What does it look like?
Robina: It looks really scary.
Hillel: Yeah, it looks like you’re a fighter pilot or something.
Jeff: Is it like a gas mask type of thing?
Molly: I wonder, if we got one, we’d get so much hassle from the NYPD.
Hillel: Honestly, I was thinking about that.
Molly: We’d be, “oh, I’m just a minutes taker, don’t worry about it.”
Robina: We would be hassled; it’s true.
[Dave shows us a picture on the web]
Dave: I don’t know, it seems like it would be easier to just sit there and say it.
Hillel: It might be, it might not be.
Molly: I think I’d have a hard time synthesizing information doing that.
Hillel: Because you’ve got to be listening and talking at the same time.
Dave: It’s like the person who can translate at the UN at the same time they are speaking. That’s a definite skill that I would not possess, ever.
Jeff: Speaking and paying attention at the same time.
Dave: Yeah, so maybe afterwards, and using the software. It’s still an important investment of time. But I think what we talked about tonight, having a a progression. We start with a summary, roadmap to the audio, and then verbatim. And that’s our goal ultimately, but as long as we keep the summaries coming out, slowly working on the roadmaps, and then we get more people involved and verbatim gets easier, because then you could have more people doing it; maybe repeating it back into another voice recorder, whatever.
Molly: My only question about this, and maybe this is something we’re going to run into with the audio recordings, which is that it’s more difficult to attribute certain things to certain people who are saying them, because the practice of saying your name has kind of fallen off.
Dave: There is a way, apparently, of doing that. From what I’ve researched, you can actually say, “And then Nan said” and then the Dragon dictation would actually put in her name. There is a way to do that. But I think that is a big training thing that none of us have any experience in. People do it successfully that are professionals; none of us are that. But it can be done, where you can actually, during the process, point out who’s saying what. That can be done.
Molly: The future is awesome.
Dave: That’s the other thing. I feel like we’re not really utilizing this technology. We’re recording it, let’s use that.
Molly: I wish there was a way to feed the recordings right back into the…
Dave: Well that’s the other thing that Tech’s working on with Angelsoft. The company that does the phone number that basically reads the website to you they’re…I’ve sent them an audio file from the GA and they’re talking with them now to see if that’s doable. It would probably be expensive, though too, and maybe a big cost. I don’t know what they would charge for that.
Molly: I also wonder.. my partner used to work for a couple different transcription agencies and was pretty tight with people there. I wonder if there are people who would donate their time who do this professionally.
Robina: Yeah, we do need to brainstorm more ways to get people
Molly: I feel like transcription especially is something that’s so good for people that are in other parts of the country that want to feel like they’re contributing something.
Dave: Well that’s where I feel like if we can start uploading these audio files, then we can get really serious about that. Because right now, even if we had those volunteers, we don’t have a really good way of sharing those audio files.
Molly: We could just set up a website where we have these files…you would have to have so much server space for that.
Dave: Yeah, these files are huge, so it would mean lots of bandwidth. I mean one way, maybe…you can upload things like that to…no, it would be too long…I was thinking YouTube, but it’s way too long.
Jeff: With SendSpace you probably could do it.
Dave: What is it?
Dave: Is that like a file share.
Molly: Could we just…how do you turn shit into a torrent? Does anybody know how that process works?
Dave: That’s a good question. You can do that, you’re so right. That is a great idea. So you could have them on your hard drive at home. The thing is, then, that computer has to be on all the time and connected to the internet.
Molly: I have a server computer at my house. I could totally run it off that.
Hillel: Well I know from following I think it was last night’s Spokes that Tech is…their proposal just went through, and part of it is to buy a bunch of servers, so this might be something to talk to Tech about as well.
Dave: Cool, I’ll definitely bring that up.
Hillel: Because we need a way for us all to be able to share these files.
Molly: And do have them in a decently indexable, easily accessible space so we can be, “go here, transcribe this”
Hillel: And I’ll approach this from the Archives perspective. I kind of think this is an area they haven’t really gotten into, but who knows.
Dave: Yeah, we need to cross pollinate with them, definitely.
Molly: What are they working on? What is Archives doing these days?
Hillel: I think they’re trying to figure that out. I think they’re about to get booted out of their space, so that’s their major concern. But they’ve really been focused on, from what I understand…I might be wrong, I think they’ve been really focused on collecting physical objects like signs and ephemera and stuff like that, which is fine, it has it’s place. But there’s a lot of stuff going on digitally that’s just…I think a lot of it is falling by the wayside.
Dave: Good point.
Hillel: Which is why I got involved with this group.
Dave: Oh, yeah, so I was just thinking about the audio files. We really want to make sure that we don’t get too far ahead and not have them organized, dated and where we know which one’s which. That’s going to be…I’ve been putting mine on my computer, putting minutes and then writing the date. I don’t know if everybody has that capability just to offload them onto your computer, because then…on the device it’s really hard to change the filename. But if you offload them onto your computer, you can change the filename to “minutes” and the date. Because if we get too many of them, we’ll never figure it out.
Molly: Right on. Making moves.
Dave: We’re getting there.
Molly: Did Lauren say she was going to send out the thing about the meeting time for next week?
Hillel: She didn’t, but I think someone should volunteer for that that’s not her.
Molly: No, that’s what I’m saying. How do I use the Google group?
Hillel: I think you just have to send an email to that email address. Did you get an email from Zoe today?
Hillel: Yeah, so if you send an email to that address it will go to everybody.
Robina: So you’re going to transcribe these minutes?
Robina: Are you offering to do the agenda?
Molly: Yeah, I was just…
Hillel: For next week?
Molly: Yeah, for next week. Just to send out an email as soon as possible, so if people can make it at five they can do that. So we should talk about an agenda for next week.
Robina: Yeah, that’s what I was wondering. So we’re starting at five.
Molly: So we have to talk…I guess, whatever this noise is about the mission statement and…
Jeff: That’s very important
Molly: And the other part is…
Hillel: The other part is that there need to be two point people for Accounting, and that we needed to consent to the “what we can spend money on” thing, which we did.
Robina: Last week?
Molly: Who was it who brought up the Safer Spaces thing?
Dave: Oh, I did. Yeah, we didn’t talk about that either.
Jeff: Just to adopt the community agreement?
Dave: I liked it, I don’t know how everybody else felt about it.
Molly: I like them a lot.
Hillel: I think that everyone in this group liked them, from what I could tell, from what I was seeing on Twitter and stuff.
Dave: So yeah, maybe we can save that until the next meeting when more people are here, but maybe we can consense on that. I think it sets a good prececent. We’re trying to get this through Spokes Council, and to be a group to say, “yeah, we believe in it so much we’ve adopted it.”
Molly: Verbatim minutes.
Hillel: Yeah, that’s the big discussion.
Dave: You know, I wonder if it’s even that, nobody even…
Jeff: Nobody wants…
Hillel: I think we need to reframe this.
Dave: Yes. It’s not an either or.
Hillel: I think maybe…
Dave: Our process. Our workflow.
Hillel: I wonder if someone nedes to come up with a re-proposal of this that reframes it…
[announcement that GA is starting]
…so we know what we’re…because I think a lot of the time was spent today talking around what we’re talking about here, and I think reframing it so it’s not about either/or would be helpful.
Robina: So are you saying that there needs to be a written out proposal kind of thing?
Robina: I can start.
Hillel: I think a lot of that’s on these minutes.
Robina: If you can share that with me I can type up some kind of proposal.
Hillel: This will go on the website, and I’ll let you know.
Molly: What else do we need to add to the agenda? Outreach?
Rpbina: Yeah, we definitely need to brainstorm about that.
Dave: Tech? We’ll just call it Tech and hopefully they’ll show up and we can discuss some of those things.
Hillel: And if not, at least a reportback would be good so that we know what’s going on or not.
Molly: Do you still want to talk about Minutes as a participatory entity that votes?
Robina: Only if people think it’s important. It’s just something I’ve been thinking about, but it’s definitely not necessarily something that has to be next time.
Molly: Well maybe if it comes up as part of the mission statement?
Robina: That’s what I was thinking, or the process document.
Molly: Anything else?
Hillel: I was looking at…I’m not sure if all of this was covered…some of these were Zoe’s things, so I don’t know if she feels like these were dealt with tonight or not. We talked about how to change our formatting, but I don’t know what that means, really. This is why, if we have particular things we want to discuss, let’s get something out beforehand so we know what we’re talking about. I don’t know if she feels that our conversation about the roles is done or not.
Dave: We bit off a little bit of it, I think, with saying that if we do minutes, we will be responsible for…that’s part of what she was talking about
Jeff: for the summary.
Dave: There was a bit more to it.
Hillel: There’s more to it, I think. There’s someone who’s a transcriber, there’s someone who takes care of the summary, there may be more behind the scenes roles as well.
Robina: I think talking to Lauren about what she does and how to spread that a little more…
Dave: Definitely. We need to take a lot of that off her. She’s drowning; you can see it in her eyes.
Hillel: But that might be part of the “where do we go from here” discussion.
Molly: I put the roles and participation as part of the mission statement and general vision conversation.
Dave: We’re at seven things now, right?
Dave: And I don’t know if some of these can’t be combined.
Molly: Right. But it’s going to be a big fruitful conversation, and I’m really excited about it.
Dave: Cool. So, 5pm, 60 Wall.
Molly: I’ll send out an email and give people the chance to email if they can’t make it, because it seems like it’s going to be a pretty big important meeting
Dave: Yeah, let’s try to make it important.
Robina: Oh, one more thing. I don’t know if this is part of the workflow, but one thing was do we have to bring any of this to the GA.
Molly: Relationship to GA. That’s big.
Hillel: One other thing that definitely does not need to get dealt with, but should get put on the queue is…and I’ll send out something that’s more explanatory than this, but I would love for there to be some way that you could see all the given versions of a night’s minutes. So right now there’s a post that’s a summary, and that gets overwritten by a more full version, and then sometimes that gets edited again. And because the site’s WordPress, there are plugins that you can add so you can just click and see the different versions. But I think that’s part of the transparency thing and being really honest about how we’re creating these records.
Dave: Like with that whole thing about transportation…
Dave: It would be really cool to go back and see how that word got changed.
Hillel: Or if it did. It helps us too.
Dave: I go back through, and I’m sometimes amazed at things I get wrong, when I listen to the audio, and I typed something almost verbatim, but it’s not even close to what they said. Because what I think, at least, what I do, sometimes I shorten the phrase they use, and you kind of say it in a shorter way. But that’s not really verbatim.
Robina: I sometimes hear a phrase completely wrong. It’s so wierd. I’ll look back and be like, “wait, did they say ‘constitution’ or did they say ‘solution’?”
Hillel: Anyway, so that’s my proposal, and if people are interested in that I will try to work with Tech to make that happen.
Dave: Again, that would be something we could discuss with Tech, probably.
Hillel: Well, since I’m not going to be here next week, I will send around an email about that. If they’re here, great, if not…
Dave: Do you want to call in and have you on speakerphone for the meeting?
Hillel: I can try, I honestly just don’t know.
Dave: If you want us to figure out some way to let you be involved in the discussion…I mean, I think it’s pretty clear that everyone here wants to be as open and transparent as possible.
Hillel: Right, I’m not expecting there will be any pushback, I’m just…
Dave: Doesn’t seem like a whole lot of hidden agendas here.
Hillel: Go team.
Molly: Rock and roll.
Dave: I will like doing the summary. That will feel good. I’ve got to tell you, I spent an hour doing ten minutes on the audio yesterday, and I was like, oh my god.
Robina: I haven’t had to use the audio yet, for whatever reason. I’m backed up on one thing. There is an audio for it, apparently. There was this weird mixup where I was on the schedule and I showed up and Zoe and Carrie were there and they had already started taking minutes, and then I took over and now I don’t know who has the audio for that night. I have to figure that out.