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In the latest release of SIL’s FieldWorks software package, the data notebook has been embedded in FieldWorks Language Explorer (FLEx), giving it broader and more powerful options. The data notebook comes with standardized and customizable templates for data input and several ways to search, retrieve, and review data. Multi-language and script technologies allow its use in almost any linguistic environment in the world.
(December 2011) The theme of the 110th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, held November 16-20 in Montreal, Canada, was “Traces, Tidemarks and Legacies,” an invitation to explore ways in which evidence of the past continues to mark the present. This year’s presentations included a demonstration of the data notebook component of SIL’s FieldWorks Language Explorer (FLEx) 7, an electronic notebook designed to streamline the process of collecting anthropological data. Recording a community’s customs allows anthropologists to examine cultural practices in the present and preserves a record of customs that might otherwise be lost to future generations.
Co-presenters James (Tim) M. Wallace, PhD, professor of anthropology at North Carolina State University and President of the National Association for the Practice of Anthropology and Tom Woodward, MA, International Anthropology Coordinator for SIL, provided a hands-on demonstration of the FLEx data notebook. Woodward has been instrumental in the design of the data notebook application and has been guiding students and researchers in its use for several years. Wallace first began using the software in 2004 as a tool for students in his summer field school in Guatemala.
The FLEx data notebook is a useful tool for seasoned field researchers as well as students learning how to record, manage and review cultural field notes. Woodward contends that by providing researchers with a streamlined method for collecting and organizing data, the FLEx data notebook helps to prevent premature analysis. While a multitude of data analysis programs are available, “[the FLEx data notebook] may well be the only software designed for front-end, qualitative data gathering.”1
FieldWorks can be downloaded for free from SIL. FieldWorks operates on Windows systems. Although a Mac version is not yet available, the program is functional on Macs with a Windows partition.
1Tom Woodward, “FieldWorks data notebook: Software for writing digital fieldnotes,” Society for Applied Anthropology Newsletter, August 2008, pp. 19-23.