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Post Posted:: December 28th, 2011, 12:05 pm 

Joined: May 24th, 2011, 8:30 am
Posts: 922
Location: Tampa, Florida USA
I am doing academic research connected with my personal involvement with LibriVox. For a more detailed explanation, click the second item in my signature below.

One of the themes that continually intrigues me in relation to the LibriVox phenomenon is the status and role of the amateur performer in society. Often the term “amateur” is used derisively, to indicate a performer or performance is below par, not of any considerable quality, laughable at worst, and pitiful at best. Yet, in the etymological sense of the word, amateurs are those who do what they do out of the love of doing it. It’s what one researcher, Mihalyi Czikszentmihalyi, terms an “autotelic” or self-justifying experience, one where the doing of it is the reward.

I see all of us who contribute to LibriVox as amateurs. Even those who are professional voice talents are amateurs at LibriVox, though they get paid elsewhere to record their voices for commercial gain. They and all of us contribute to LibriVox because we love it. We are true amateurs, in the best sense of the word.

Here are my questions (which are really ONE BIG QUESTION):

What makes all this so satisfying? What makes this fun for you? What makes it worth the effort and the striving that go into completing any recording that will be catalogued on LibriVox? Can you describe the thoughts that motivate you to dedicate so many, many hours of your free time to researching, recording, editing, proof listening, book coordinating, and cataloguing public domain texts? This work clearly has a certain amount of value for you since you trade the time you could be employing to other forms of recreation for doing all things LibriVox. What hooked you here and what keeps you coming back? What parts of the experience are mandatory for you to remain here?

Thank you to all who answer these questions here on this thread or by private message to me. Please also feel free to add your own questions, change my questions, critique the assumptions behind my questions or statements, or ask me any questions about this research.

Bob

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Last edited by bobgon55 on January 11th, 2012, 6:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post Posted:: December 28th, 2011, 1:39 pm 

Joined: November 3rd, 2011, 2:02 pm
Posts: 1779
Location: Poznań, Poland
While this is not exactly the same, I think you can find some interesting opinions here: viewtopic.php?f=25&t=36915 where people talk about their motivations to contribute their time to Lv. Have you already read that thread?

I think what I wrote there sums up my feelings quite well.

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Post Posted:: December 28th, 2011, 2:50 pm 

Joined: May 24th, 2011, 8:30 am
Posts: 922
Location: Tampa, Florida USA
Thank you, Piotrek! I had forgotten this one.

edited to add: NEVERTHELESS, if anyone has NOT contributed to the link that Piotrek provided and would like to share some of their insights here, please do!


Bob

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Post Posted:: January 11th, 2012, 10:56 am 
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Joined: November 22nd, 2005, 10:22 am
Posts: 11331
Location: Great Britain
What makes this fun for me has shifted over time. When I started recording, it was just quite cool to sit with a headset and mutter the classics. It didn't really addict me, though. It was the supporting activity that really hooked me into LVing ... the discussion about new books to record, thinking together about better ways to record or edit: many different ways to improve the process. After some years and contributions, I started getting occasional Thankyou messages from people outside LV, and that's definitely fun. And, now that I'm brave about doing solos (it took me a couple of years to get around to my first :roll: ) there's a sense, for me at least, of possessing the book, of having a different relationship with it to that of a listener/reader. And that's not exactly fun ... but deeply satisfying.


Epic ramble warning (just stop reading now if you're not in the mood) ... I've been starting to read around the subject of acting, which I've never before studied or thought much about, and am trying to relate that back to narrating and more specifically what we do here in volunteering to narrate. And it seems that perhaps in some ways we-as-amateurs do the opposite of what professionals might want to do. They'd start from the character, and expand outwards through plot, motivation and fourth wall. We start in the audience, so to speak. We're Everyman, with no particular training needed to get through the LV door, just a willingness to get into a bit of the technical gubbins. And then, for fiction anyway, we discover the characters as we record. Yes, we might read the book or chapter first, but unless we do that out loud, I really don't think it's the same as the recording. Reading about characters and analysing them is not the same as speaking directly for them and telling their stories. For myself, I don't usually read collaborative novels before joining in. I take the characters as they appear on the page in front of me, and just relate to the listener what the author's told me. It's different to my process for solo readings, where I do read the whole thing in advance, work out voices and accents and pace - in short, there I start from the characters and connect to the audience. I don't feel bad about "under-preparing" for single chapters and I'm as happy with the result as I am when I finish a solo-read book chapter.

I wonder if that's part of the charm of LibriVox, that we don't mention the listeners in our mission statement, don't make much allowance for them listening -- in fact, shock many new people with the statement that "we're not here for the listeners, we're here to make audiobooks" which sounds so counter-intuitive under any other circumstance. (If someone acts without an audience, what does that mean?) And perhaps we do that because we ARE the audience -- even if we never listen to a single book -- it's just the water we fish-narrators swim in and therefore never think about.

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Post Posted:: January 11th, 2012, 4:42 pm 

Joined: February 16th, 2009, 7:19 am
Posts: 2714
Location: Bath, UK
Regarding your last paragraph Cori, it got me thinking. We do say we are not in it for the listeners. And this is certainly broadly true - our set up is designed to make it pleasant for people to volunteer rather than to listen (I.E not allowing negative feedback, not requiring any experience or auditions, all accents are welcome, etc).

But at the same time if we truly didn't care about listeners we could just read aloud to ourselves. In fact I do this personally for poetry as I find it helps me gain a deeper understanding of the piece (These poems are mostly non-PD which is why I don't record them at the same time anyway).

[Slight tangent: In fact, thinking about it, I'd say reading a poem for myself, and 'performing' it for LibriVox are two different styles of reading aloud, and I approach them in different ways and the same poem will sound different coming out of my mouth depending on which I'm doing. I'd like to test this, but as soon as the mic was on I'd slip into performing mode.]

And while it is nice to be heard and to receive positive comments from listeners, through the 'Thank a Reader' thread, or by them contacting us personally - a good comment has made my day before now (especially as you can be sure that for every person leaving a kind word there are several who didn't have time or didn't know how) - what really means the most to me is the good opinions and praise of the people I know and respect. And at this point that includes a lot of the people on this forum. Some lovely comments from Bob and Algy have made my entire week. And it doesn't have to be about my recording quality. I also want to appear helpful, punctual, friendly, intelligent etc.

So I think some of my behaviour is driven by a desire to give this impression. My audience isn't the wider world, it's the other Librivoxateers. And what I am contributing is not just the recordings themselves, but also my BC and PL work, as well as every single post I make on these forums.

I have no idea how true this is for other people.

I did want to say more about Bob's original topic - what else makes recording fun for me - but I don't have my thoughts in order yet and I need to go to bed so it shall have to wait till another time.

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Post Posted:: January 23rd, 2012, 2:11 pm 

Joined: January 1st, 2007, 10:28 pm
Posts: 906
Location: Orlando, Florida
I started volunteering after listening to many Librivox recordings. I had a list of my favorite readers, and I admired what they had done so much that I wanted to join them. I love the idea of recording some really good piece of writing which is today obscure. Reading old literature is for me escapism, and I love to hear the voices of people long gone describing what their world was like, and I want others to hear their voices too. Some of the stories are awful, but important, like “Martyred Armenia,” or “Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story,” and some are gigantic milestones in thought, like “The Life of Jesus, Critically Examined” (I PL’d that one). Others, although they are not nearly as important, still show us how different, or how alike we are to those from the past.
What parts of the experience are mandatory for you to remain here? The freedom I have here to choose what to record and when. I’m very satisfied with the way things are run here as they are.

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Post Posted:: January 24th, 2012, 1:11 am 
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Joined: March 9th, 2009, 7:47 am
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Location: French in Denmark
I have to admit that my motivations also have shifted overtime. But what I do think is important is:

1. the pleasure I get from it. Reading a text out loud makes you (I know it is obvious, but still) actually hear the language and the sounds.
2. I find that I get into stories much deeper if I read them out loud.
3. Lars has mentioned this several times and he is so right: some books would get lost if it were not because they are on the Internet. My uncle has a friend whose greatgrandfather's books (Jules Verne style, social science fiction, but without the adventure part... but still the guy anticipated television!) are only available on the French Digital library... That is my next solo project.

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Post Posted:: February 2nd, 2012, 10:15 am 
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neckertb wrote:
[]
1. the pleasure I get from it. Reading a text out loud makes you (I know it is obvious, but still) actually hear the language and the sounds.
2. I find that I get into stories much deeper if I read them out loud.
3. Lars has mentioned this several times and he is so right: some books would get lost
[]

I so very much agree with these 3 items - they are precisely and consisely what I have been trying to sort out in my mind and put into words ever since this thread started. Thank you, Nadine!

1. I learned to speed-read decades ago. I can and do read large quantities of stuff, but speed reading means that the only impact many books have made on me comes from their plot and action - what story is told, not how it is told. Reading aloud has added an appreciation of language, sentence contruction and phrasing, pacing, selection of words and sounds to create and sustain atmosphere and character. I just finished Stanley Fish's book on Sentences and he started out with the to me heretical notion that the reason for selecting words and grammer is not always clarity - it can be done to create a mood, to mix time and space, past and future events in a reader's mind, to make a situation come alive in a way my fact-based speed-readings have not. Yes, I see that now; and it can be done well, or poorly. I find in my readings here profound differences in the ability of certain writer's words to trip off the tongue while others terribly entangle it.

2. And YES! This reading aloud draws me into the stories in a way that seeing the words on a page never could. I have to think about what tone is right for a phrase - what is the character thinking and how should I read that, is this better than that or is he really feeling something entirely else? Should a listener hear satisfaction in my voice at the denouncemant or is it something that should pass without inflection, unnoticed to those in the book? In non-fiction also the same feelings of triumph. Despair. Or the bland nothingness of just facts without emphasis? Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next novels about the world of creating books now make some sense!! And so I appreciate conversations and plays and even music more as an increasingly active and critical listener.

3. And yes, there is so much in the past that is worth rediscovery! Love, lust, larceny and lies are not new inventions. Bombastic oratory to motivate is not a new thing. The crippling impact of wearing the blinders of bigotry has been suffered - and overcome - before. And every technology seemingly solves on one hand while unveiling new vexations with the other. Some things just have not changed, and that is worth remembering!

In less than 6 months I have not just found a new hobby, I have had added an appreciation and richness to everything else I do as well.

Thanks, Todd

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Post Posted:: February 14th, 2012, 4:22 pm 

Joined: January 20th, 2007, 5:30 pm
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Location: LA.CA.USA.NA.Earth.Sol
As with any hobby, the more I know, the more I know I don't know.
Then it is up to me to learn more, or stay level, or move on to another hobby.

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Post Posted:: March 7th, 2012, 1:06 am 

Joined: October 25th, 2007, 3:02 pm
Posts: 91
Location: paekakariki, new zealand
I just wrote a reply to this and got timed out and lost it all.

So here's the notes version:

Aristocratic:

HP Lovecraft considered himself an amateur rather than associating himself with the pulp magazines. By Amateur he associated this with the Aristocratic where ones nose is held above the mundane cares of the world.

Anarchic:

Librivox relies on a free flow of people and ideas and is almost completely lacking in hierarchy. Unlike political democracy where you vote every 3 or 4 years from a set of just a few candidates none of whose policies particularly inspires you, at librivox you vote for literature when you like and only associate yourself with those of your choosing.

Literature:

I'm here because I think it matters

Communion:

Reading a work helps you enter more closely into a work and you are melding yourself with it and sending it out into the cultural currents not knowing where it will end up.

Audience:

We can imagine our ideal audience. I like the thought that old people in homes at little or no cost their eyesight fading can have friendly strangers read them the worlds literature and they can float in the world of the mind happily smiling through their declining years.


Last edited by keri on March 10th, 2012, 9:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post Posted:: March 7th, 2012, 1:41 am 

Joined: May 24th, 2011, 8:30 am
Posts: 922
Location: Tampa, Florida USA
Thanks to ALL who have responded to the first post! I really appreciate your thoughtful and detailed responses.

Cori, I love your epic rambles and Lucy, I love your tangents!

Thanks Margaret, Nadine, Todd, and CalmDragon for your added dimensions to the discussion.

(Keri, I'm sorry you lost your longer exposition and thanks so much for posting the notes version.)

Bob

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Post Posted:: March 7th, 2012, 2:22 am 
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Joined: April 3rd, 2008, 3:55 am
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[edited quote="keri"]

I like the thought that mature people at home at little or no cost, their eyesight fading, can work with friendly strangers to read the world's literature and they can float in the world of the mind happily smiling through their declining years in the knowledge they have helped keep alive some of the world's greatest literature and maybe helped some of the young ones realise that people had the same joys and sorrows and the same ideas throughout history as well :D .[/quote]

Sorry - I just couldn't resist

Anne


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Post Posted:: March 7th, 2012, 2:38 am 

Joined: October 25th, 2007, 3:02 pm
Posts: 91
Location: paekakariki, new zealand
annise wrote:
[edited quote="keri"]

I like the thought that mature people at home at little or no cost, their eyesight fading, can work with friendly strangers to read the world's literature and they can float in the world of the mind happily smiling through their declining years in the knowledge they have helped keep alive some of the world's greatest literature and maybe helped some of the young ones realise that people had the same joys and sorrows and the same ideas throughout history as well :D .


Sorry - I just couldn't resist

Anne[/quote]

Are our posts here in the public domain too, that they can be plagiarised at will? :D . Well thanks Anne, I'm glad you didn't resist.


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Post Posted:: March 10th, 2012, 4:51 am 
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keri wrote:
Audience:
I like the thought that old people in homes at little or no cost there eyesight fading can have friendly strangers read them the worlds literature and they can float in the world of the mind happily smiling through their declining years.


That would be my 85 yr old mom who is legally blind. She is listening to a bunch of "arctic" stories now. (Roger Melin is one of her Fav readers)

When I send her a CD, I try to make "theme" disks.

Esther :)

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Post Posted:: March 27th, 2012, 2:24 pm 

Joined: March 21st, 2012, 1:20 am
Posts: 41
Location: germany
i just became a member and i have not even started real recording yet.
so, i don't know how useful you'll find my post. since i don't have much experience...

there are a lot of reasons.

1. I don't like children to become dumb, TV-Addicted, without-any-happy-perspectives adults just because their parents were like that, or the circumstances in their lives were otherwise bad...(i have been working with children and teens for a long time. i've seen children who went from being interested, curious, nice little humans to beeing desperate drugged teens and much tooyoung mothers. and i've seen children in bad circumstances, who got over themselves and became great adults. one of the things that help children, to develop their personality, take their education in their own hands and learn is, if they love reading. so i like to do everything possible to get children/people to love books)

2. i love reading aloud. and my boyfriend doesn't like to listen. and i have no children who i can "force" to listen ;)

3. i love listening to audiobooks. i love old books. and i love to get them for free.

4. i love text. i love words, i love language.

5. i love getting attention :D even though it's not about attention here... but the thought, that someone would listen to something i read an this someone maybe thinks it's great.... that would make me happy even though i probably never find out, if it's true.
silly, i know... but honest :)

6. i just like, doing it. there's still a big part of "dunno why" here :)

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