In the past week our project transitioned from the gathering datastage into transforming our data into a concrete deliverable. Natasha and Caroline conducted one last interview on Wednesday in San Francisco, but other than that we have spent our time editing our audio files and photos so that they could be inserted attractively into our map. Natasha and Caroline have been selecting the most informative and important sound bytes from our interviews and uploading them to the audio sharing site SoundCloud so that they could be accessed by Jordan to plug into the ArcGIS map. We have been trying to select the most important parts of the interviews and are trying to keep the clips no more than three minutes so that the map can be meaningful to people no matter how long their attention span is.
Now in the midst of the more technical phase of our project, we have run into some compelling ideological quandaries. In the map-making process, we have looked into using a number of media-sharing websites such as Vimeo, SoundCloud, and Flickr, and in doing so, had to confront the paradoxical nature of this project. Many of our interviewees have expressed a great deal of resentment towards the tech population inundating the Bay Area, and the gentrification of the area is most commonly attributed to this phenomenon. In trying to spread awareness about this issue using mapping, the reality is that these tech companies offer accessible and sophisticated tools for social media sharing. This is an irony we noticed immediately when Erin and Julia asked us if we had any programming skills, and it is certainly one that is apparent to others; Melanie from KALW is focusing on this very paradox for her story about the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project.
Is it really a paradox though? While in some ways, it could be perceived as hypocritical to bemoan tech people’s presence while benefitting from the tools they share with us, there are certainly other ways to think of it. For one, the people we have interviewed do not take issue with the tech industry itself--they take issue with the elitist and classist character of this particular industry. It is not the work that these companies do that is the issue, but the way they situate themselves within the Bay Area community. Social media is now an integral part of our society, and if it is a powerful tool for spreading awareness, it should be used. Another way to think of the paradox is within the framework of “reclaiming.” If the tech industry is one that has inflicted hardship and loss on many already disenfranchised people, then why shouldn’t those people use technology themselves, to make their stories and frustrations heard?
On Wednesday morning before class, we interviewed Michael in North Beach. He had much to say on his eviction. Needless to say, he was not going to be displaced without a fight. He fought his eviction with attorneys and the battle lasted for years. The stress and heartbreak of the entire situation also contributed to the separation from his partner of over a decade. He was fortunate enough to find another apartment in North Beach, however he now lives with neighbors and is in close quarters. He says there is nothing quite like his previous home. His thoughts on San Francisco are now changed. He says he feels as if there is a more inconsiderate undertone to people’s actions within the city. Michael was very welcoming and eager to share his story and we think he will add to the depth and personal detail in our map.
Additionally, we had another phone interview scheduled with a person that was displaced from San Francisco and actually had to move to Los Angeles. Unfortunately, we were unable to get ahold of her and she did not answer any of our calls when the week of the interview had come. This has happened multiple times throughout our project and scheduling problems have contributed to our small number of interviewees.
This past week we have been editing the audio from the interviews. In order to do this, we upload the audio tracks onto iTunes, convert them to podcasts, and then edit the clips in garage band. We have sectioned off each of the clips into categories unique to each individual and are going to input these sound clips that last about a minute long into the map. Each interview was about 35 minutes long, but we have selected about 8 minutes from each interview to highlight and feature on our map (along with the ability to listen to the entire interview). We feel that these short clips will be most user-friendly and their length will not be off putting as they are short enough for an audience to feel that they have the time to listen.
Our project is coming together and it is extremely rewarding to see our hard work and the openness and willingness of our interviewees on a platform that will be accessible to the public. The multimedia aspect of our map really adds an interactive touch that will attract audiences to learn more about the real issues of eviction. In the end, we hope to be steps closer in the aid of spreading awareness of no fault evictions and eventually reconstructing the Ellis Act so these don’t happen again.