Labelling and metadata on the hodge-podge of recordings on your home computer

Claire Bowern clairebowern at GMAIL.COM
Sun May 2 14:11:56 UTC 2010

I know this is how we're supposed to do it but I have problems
identifying recordings quickly when the filename is a long string of
numbers (e.g. with 5 Elan search windows open). I use this system for
field methods tapes but I really don't like it.
My field tapes are done by language and researcher initial (e.g.
BA-AKL) and then numbered sequentially (apart from the Yan-nhangu
fieldtrip where I used date/session numbering...). I find that much
easier to use.

On Sun, May 2, 2010 at 7:31 AM, Aidan Wilson <aidan.wilson at> wrote:
> Hey Greg,
> I'd actually leave most of the stuff in your filename to a metadata file and
> leave the filename like:
> 20100405-01.wav, .eaf, .mp3, whatever,
> And have a spreadsheet of metadata for a bunch of recordings, where you keep
> information like recordist, speaker, language, location, as well as date and
> a rough breakdown of contents. It's probably a good idea to also have this
> stuff in a text file; one per file, but also in a general spreadsheet for
> all files:
> filename,       date,   language,       recordist,      speaker,
>  location
> 20100405-01,    2010-04-05,     Marra,  gd,     fr,     Ngukurr
> 20100405-02,
> etc.,
> While it's a good idea to try and keep as much identifying information in
> the filename, it can look cluttered, and it may tempt you from proper
> collection of metadata in a spreadsheet. Also, without a list of
> abbreviations to inform someone looking at your files how to interpret the
> elements in your filename, it may go to waste.
> -Aidan
> --
> Aidan Wilson
> The University of Sydney
> +612 9036 9558
> +61428 458 969
> aidan.wilson at
> On Sun, 2 May 2010, Greg Dickson wrote:
>> Hello,
>> I'm trying to tidy up my files on my home laptop, which I've only ever
>> used
>> secondarily to whatever computer I was assigned by various workplaces.
>>  Over
>> about four years, I've ended up with a real hodge-podge of recordings and
>> files in all kinds of languages made in all kinds of situations by all
>> kinds
>> of people even! (When you lend out your Zoom recorder it can come back
>> with
>> interesting things on it!).  I thought it's time for a spring clean.
>> I'm pretty decided on a way to label my files consistently, but would
>> appreciate any feedback or shared experiences.
>> I thought I'd go with something like:
>> 100405MARfrNGUgd01
>> Which is DATE (April 5, 2010) LANGUAGE (Marra) speaker (initials: fr)
>> LOCATION (Ngukurr) "recorded by" (gd = me) Series number (1st in the
>> series)
>> And then any ELAN, metadata, video or text files will have the same name,
>> just a different file extension.
>> I'm wondering though, what should I do about metadata?  What do others do?
>>  How necessary is keeping metadata for such a miscellaneous collection of
>> files?  And how do I do it?  One place I worked at just kept a store of
>> .txt
>> files of metadata - 1 file for each recording.  Is that a good way?
>> Any help or info appreciated.
>> Guda mingi,
>> (That's all now)
>> Greg Dickson
>> PO Box 2468
>> Katherine NT 0852
>> Ph: 8971 0207 / 0427 391 153
>> Email: munanga at

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