Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Mediatech 2011 - travelling forward into the future

Obakeng Phiri
SABC Radio Archives
 The SABC Media Libraries attended Mediatech 2011 as part of SABC Technology Division. Obakeng Phiri, the intern in the SABC Radio Archives, gives us an overview of what he encountered.

Mediatech 2011 was a great experience! It was like going through a time machine, so we can see what the future holds.

I got a broader understanding on how digital radio works. Also on what neighboring countries are doing and how much spectrum is available. I got an understanding about DRM, DRM30 and DRM+ and of its features in SW, MW and AM. People listening to radio will be able to see the title and other information of a song that will be played on radio. It will allow listeners to use the info to research or download the song. The quality of the audio will also be better. 

What caught my attention was the Zenon Media all in one audio radio solution designed easy to use for radio stations from a single broadcaster until nationwide networks. This is a system that runs on different server technologies such as clustering, ISCSI SAN networks for high redundancy and with different databases. Database and applications are multi-language and can be translated in each language. It also supports all broadcast formats. It comes with all tools for music scheduling, audio editing, statistics and full redundancy, seamless local switch and a switch to backup studio in case of emergencies. It works like Dalet, but better.

Mediatech gave me the opportunity to sharpen my skills in broadcasting and update me on the latest technology.

Thank you SABC for making it happen!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

SABC Media Libraries' 67 minutes at Woodside

The SABC Media Libraries identified a new CSI project for us to contribute towards. We visited the Woodside Sanctuary on Mandela Day as part of the 67 minutes giving back to our community. We had to help out with some of the stimulation activities. We are very grateful to them for giving us this opportunity!

I got the distinct impression that it was more effort on their behalf to ensure that we were accommodated, and that we met some of the residents. In spite of the effort, they greeted us with open arms and smiles! It seems they are hungry for visits, and the children loved the attention!

Woodside Sanctuary caters to the following needs:
"Primarily dedicated to meeting the needs of people with severe to profound mental and physical disabilities, Woodside provides a high standard of holistic care within a stimulating and homely environment. Originally founded in 1955, the home has been extended over the years to provide accommodation for up to 120 permanent residents. Most of the residents are sleeping in wards, a few are accommodated in single bedrooms and one section is functioning as a home-unit where they share double rooms. Several areas exit within the home where residents attend different stimulation programmes. All clients who are referred to the home are assessed prior to being admitted as a resident. A gradual introduction period to the home is normally recommended asa trial period so the home can assure itself, the residents and the family that the placement is
appropriate." -
Woodside Sanctuary

It was an eye-opener to most of us.

I asked for some feedback from the people visiting:

The visit at Woodside Sanctuary was a very emotional visit. 
The children were so happy and laughing within their circumstances.
I think Woodside Sanctuary’s personnel are doing a great job with passion.

Cate (Team Leader: CSI Team):

We had remarkable experiences and had good lessons to learn. We were united in spirit! Let us work together and make those children’s world as comfortable as possible.


It was a very emotional experience because she has a small child and she thought about how it would have affected her if it was one of her own children there. It was very difficult to have seen them!

Markus had a previous experience at Woodside because he had the flu on Monday and did not want to risk infecting one of the children. He realized that when God blesses you with normal children, you don’t realize there are more needy children. We need to look beyond ourselves! He is also involved with other orphanages, but he has never seen anything like what we saw at Woodside. It is neediness to the highest degree! They deal with delicate children who need expert care!


She met Henry for a second time on Monday. She is part of the CSI Team. Henry is blind, but he knits very well. It was very emotional. They were talking to him, but he did not respond. But when we were leaving, he started to kiss her hands, and held her, not wanting her to leave…


David grabbed my heart... previously an engineering student, for whom it is an achievement now to distinguish left from right.  They say he sometimes remembers his clever days, and it frustrates him a lot. The day got me thinking... yes, my situation is not hot chocolate and marshmallows at all, but put in perspective of the bigger picture, I have such a lot to be thankful for.  - The merry ways of Retha Buys

We had such an eye-opening experience.
We realized we have so much to be thankful for!

The SABC Media Libraries are going to try and contribute towards smaller items, such as toiletries and slippers, and we are taking their plight to sponsors as well. It is a large operation to keep running smoothly for the sake of the children.

Woodside Bank details: 
Woodside Sanctuary
Standard Bank Melville
Branch Code: 006105
Account Number: 201 098 784

The rest of the photos of our visit can be viewed on our website ast SABC Media Libraries CSI

Blog post by Karen du Toit, SABC Radio Archives.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Knowledge Café to address a PowerPoint aversion

Knowledge Cafe Prezi

There were a number of good presentations, and the whole conference was very successfully hosted at the FNB Conference Centre in Sandton.

The one paper that caught my eye was the presentation by Manti Grobler about the concept and hosting of a Knowledge Café at SAP South Africa. She calls it “Welcome to Café CRM where conversation is served”. I am one of the people that as soon as a PowerPoint goes up, it makes me wants to nod off… This usually happens as well!

But, it seems that there is a great Knowledge Management tool that will address this: The Knowledge Café!

A Knowledge Café is a way of engaging all the stakeholders in business to bring out tacit knowledge. It is a way of conversation where everybody gets involved in a less formal setting – the café – and where the discussion is orchestrated around a certain well-prepared topic. The idea is not to get to a decision, but to get to a learning environment where all the ideas and perspectives around a certain topic are brought to the fore!

This is so much more exciting and visual than a PowerPoint presentation.
She also used Storify to compile the “story” of the day. The photos, tweets and notes were pulled into a storyline: http://storify.com/mantigrobler/cafecrm-13-april-2011

The Knowledge Café is a great way to use as a Knowledge Management tool. I played around with Prezi yesterday, trying to understand the concept of a Knowledge Café, as well as learning how to use Prezi as presentation tool! I used David Gurteen’s video on Knowledge Café which I found on YouTube as a starting point for understanding the concept. The video is also included in the presentation if anybody is interested to go and watch. 

I can recommend Prezi for any presentation. You can also pull in your PowerPoint slides as well. No problem! (I’m a convert!)

What is better than sitting around a table with a cup of coffee and cake, and the discussion does not force a certain outcome? The conversation does not need to be “correct”; it only needs to be heard!
I love the idea of not being forced towards a certain outcome, but that the opinions of all the stakeholders are taken into account and everybody feels that their voice has been heard! I hope we will see more of this in the workplace than “death by PowerPoint!” (*hint*)

Blog post by Karen du Toit, Afrikaans Archivist in the SABC Radio Archives.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Interview with the Principal Librarian, Media Library: Marlene Ungerer – Province Cape Town

Marlene Ungerer
Principal Librarian: SABC Media Library Cape Town
The SABC has branches in the provinces. The upcoming interviews will be addressed to the people of the SABC Media Libraries working in the provinces. The scope and content of their work differs greatly of how we do it here in Auckland Park.

The interview this week is with Marlene Ungerer, the Principal Librarian of the Media Library, Cape Town. She has been with SABC Cape Town for 24 years on the 1st August, 2011.

Marlene, please tell us a little bit about your life and career (Where you grew up, where and what you studied and your work experience before you joined SABC Cape Town)

I grew up in the southern suburbs of Cape Town.  Both my parents played guitar, piano and sang. My parents made a recording with Teal Trutone in 1955 when I was 6 months old, on a 78”.

My brother won first prize for the battle of the bands when he was 15 years old. He is currently a member of the band “Late Final”.  My sister and I sang in a band in our teens and we had piano lessons with Charles Segal whilst we were at school. Because of my parents influence in music, we obviously are all able to play an instrument or two and we are able to sing. Therefore music was more than a hobby it was a normal activity in our family gatherings and we all have a passion for music.  None of us are able to live without music…it’s in our veins. My knowledge of music goes back to my Grandmother’s era up to the current genre’s we hear today.

I cannot imagine my life without music.  It was coincidental that I started working at the SABC Media Library in August, 1987.

My previous work experience was purely administrative. For example: wages, salaries, creditors and debtors, switchboard, secretary and Personal assistant.

How big is the province you serve?

The Province in Cape Town has a total of 170 employees. The Media library provides services to following Radio Stations: - Good Hope FM, RSG, SAFM and Umhlobo Wenene, including Group Sales and Marketing.

Do you have specific challenges in Cape Town?

Yes, we most certainly do!  Firstly we have only two employees, the Principle Librarian and the Librarian. The biggest challenges are when one of the two is off ill or on leave and the other has to juggle the running of the library, seeing the clients from the Record Companies (who samples us with CD’s), assisting the compilers, attending meetings and finally finding the time to catalogue the new releases.  Cape Town Media Library is one of the few Provinces that has a Principle Librarian that is hands on. At present I am coaching two interns since February and we have been requested to do monthly reports and logbooks for each intern.

Please tell us about a normal day in your office. What tasks do you give priority to?

The task which is given first priority is ensuring the new releases are catalogued as soon as possible, to enable compilers and borrowers to have prompt access to compile their playlists and programmes. Managing one’s time to give the Record Companies an opportunity to visit and explain the new CD releases, which are given as free samples. At present I need to give my full attention to the interns while coaching them until November of this year.

Tell us more about the collection in the SABC Cape Town Archives and the scope of material that need to be preserved.

Anything we need to archive we send to the SABC in Johannesburg but we do take a keen interest in preserving CD’s that were released from 1980 to 2000, as these CD’s are not replaceable.  Should a borrower need access to a CD which we only have one copy of, we make alternate arrangements to either copy the CD or download the track requested.

Tell us why you enjoy doing the work that you do.

I have a passion for music and I cannot imagine my life without music. I enjoy every aspect of my job; it is extremely challenging and rewarding to be able to assist people with music requests and knowing that I have the knowledge and experience to find a particular type of genre to suit their programme, drama or an advert. I really couldn’t imagine my life without music.

Why do you prefer working in Cape Town, rather than here in Johannesburg?

I was born and grew up in Cape Town and my parents, children and extended family are all based in Cape Town. Cape Town is the only place I would work and it suits my needs at present. Life throws us so many curve balls, who know; maybe at another time in my life it may warrant a transfer!

Questions and blog post by Karen du Toit, Afrikaans Archivist in the SABC Radio Archives.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Interview with the Manager of the SABC Record Library

Thersia Francis
Manager: SABC Record Library
The interview this week is with Thersia Francis, the Manager of the SABC Record Library.

The Record Library houses recorded music, previously unavailable, as well as all genres of recorded music, including Jazz, Gospel, Kwaito, Rap, Rave, Classical, World, Light, Mood, Sound Effects and others. The music is regularly accessed by staff and made available to all internal clients.

This interview is part of a series of blog posts to gain a better understanding of the SABC Record Library, as well as part of a series of blog posts about the Media Libraries. It is a way of generating a better understanding of what we do in the different sections that we belong to.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. (Where you grew up, where and what you studied and your work experience before you joined the SABC Record Library)

I was born, raised and spend most of my life in Krugersdorp.
I’ve started my working career at the Johannesburg City Council at the Commercial Licensing Department were I worked for 5 years, and gained  very valuable working experience.
I applied for a post in the Record Library at the SABC and started in June 1980.  31 years later here I am still in the Record Library and love every minute (OK, 99% of the time). Things really changed a lot over the years…..
When I started there were 3 Record Libraries: Springbok Radio Library (or Commercial Library) Bantu/Black Record Library and the Central Record Library. When Springbok Radio closed down the 3 libraries merged and only one record library was formed.  I started working with classical music, then mood music and sound effects and then light or commercial music and gained knowledge of the different types of music, record companies and our users in the SABC. 

Please tell us about a normal day in your office. What tasks do you give priority to?

My main focus is to have happy, focus and competent staff and a well organized record library that’s looking after the music needs of the SABC.

Tell us more about your collection and the scope of material you need to preserve in the Record Library.

We do have a huge collection of CD’s and LP’s.  Our collection exists of classical music, mood music and sound effects and light music. We try do allocate music from all available sources, local and international.

Do you struggle with technical difficulties with regards your collections? Please elaborate.

On a daily basis we do not have any technical difficulties.  My dream for the library is to digitize and have our collections online.  We are currently busy with a digital project and hopefully this dream will come true.

If you have an anecdote about a specific piece of interesting music, please share it with us.

 A great CD worth listening to is “Amore Infinito” by Placido Domingo with guest appearances by a few well known artists.  It is songs inspired by the poems of Pope John Paul II.

Tell us why you enjoy doing the work that you do.

To work with music is fantastic!  The music industry has its own magic.  The interaction between the record library, radio stations and all the users in the SABC is very special.

Related posts:

Interview with the Systems Administrator in the SABC Record Library
Interview with a Record Librarian at the SABC record Library
Interview with an Assistant Record Librarian in the SABC Record Library
Interview with a Record Librarian at the SABC Record Library: Sound Effects and Mood Music

Questions and blog post by Karen du Toit, Afrikaans Archivist at the SABC Radio Archives.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Google data mining tools for journalists and information specialists

 Google has free online data mining tools available that have the ability to impact our news operations in a far-reaching constructive manner! Journalists and information specialists need awareness of these tools that can be utilized to effectively mine information already available in the public domain.

We had the opportunity to attend a workshop by a Google team for journalists, editors and media workers on 7 June at the SABC.

The pitch of the workshop was as follows:
Google provides journalists with a powerful set of tools, to help find, extract and understand information. The workshop will cover ways to find people, organisations, and events all in real-time, as well as to track trends and opinions. And, to ensure journalists stay on top of issues or beats, Google also offers automated and personalized search agents or 'bots' that independently scour the web for you, issuing alerts the moment new information is found.

Journalism itself is changing though. Audiences are being swamped by the sheer volumes of information available online, especially as citizen journalists and agencies such as the UN, World Bank, and governments begin releasing raw data. Simply reporting the information is no longer the most important role for media. The best journalists are instead beginning to help audiences make sense of all this information, by analysing and organizing the raw data. 

Learn how free tools like Google Fusion Tables, Google Refine and even Public Data Explorer can make it easier for our audiences to understand complicated information by turning the raw numbers and text into animated maps, graphics, and graphs.
These tools also allow newsrooms to disaggregate or deconstruct news stories into geographic or demographic data, which allows us to build customized news products that are automatically tailored for people's location or their socio-economic profiles. This ability to personalize news, for consumption on mobile phones or the new tablet computers, gives us revolutionary opportunities for inventing new ways to tell our stories.
Peter Barron (Executive Director Communications Google) and Julie Taylor (Communications Manager Google South Africa) of Google Communications Africa presented the workshop about some of the online tools that are available to us.
Google’s advanced search capabilities were discussed – they call it a “surgical tool”.
- The search box can be used as calculator & currency converter & metrics conversions.
- Google Realtime search is an“up-to-the-second social updates about hot topics around the world”:
  • Twitter is a great way to find people to quote.
  • Discussions on blogs are a great way to find information.
Youtube can be utilized as a way of generating user-generated content (citizen journalism).
- The Journalist Toolbox is a compilation of all of the tools available to journalists at the moment (http://www.journaliststoolbox.org/)
- Google Timeline view is a great way to visualize a story over a certain period of time (http://www.google.com/corporate/timeline/#start)
- Google Books, which already has made available over 7000 books, is available as well. http://books.google.com/  Journalists and writers are able to publish directly to World libraries, and to get a book out in two months (for example a journalist with an in-dept story).
Some more tools are available here: Options http://www.google.co.za/intl/en/options/

Justin Arenstein spoke more about data journalism, which he successfully implemented being an award winning investigative journalist based in South Africa.

The tools that can be utilized for advanced storytelling were mentioned, and it needs an investigation to see what can be utilized for our purposes.

- Google Ngram – analyse phrases and concepts http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/
- Google Public Data Explorer – tools to analyse government data http://www.google.com/publicdata/home
- Google Fusion Tables – turn structured data into graphics http://www.google.com/fusiontables/public/tour/index.html
- Google Refine – cleaning up messy data http://code.google.com/p/google-refine/
- Google Maps http://maps.google.co.za/ - use to plot information and news correlated to geographical location, for example the census
- Google Data Visualization – “a dynamic chart to visualize several indicators over time”
- Google Public Data Explorer http://www.google.com/publicdata/home
- Google Data Wiki http://datawiki.googlelabs.com/
- Open Data Kit http://opendatakit.org/
- Google City Tours http://citytours.googlelabs.com/ - a cache of information where the landscape “speaks” to a person
- Google Goggles http://www.google.com/mobile/goggles/#text - mobile app for searching
- YouTube Feather – videos for low bandwidth http://www.youtube.com/feather_beta (which can be successfully used in Africa with its bandwidth problems)
- Google Moderator – voting tool http://www.google.com/moderator/#0

Google’s blog about their work in Africa: http://google-africa.blogspot.com/ It helps to stay up to date with the latest work of Google in Africa.

All these tools are available for free. Some are still in the beta and testing phase, and sometimes they can be revoked by Google. It is up to the users to make their voices heard when they have found a valuable tool.

South Africa is a country rich with raw data, waiting to be mined. The possibility is there for journalists [...and information specialists] to become industry leaders by way of data mining
                                                                           – Justin Arenstein

I realize that this is just a mention or a broad overview of some of the possibilities available to us. It needs investigation and testing of the tools to see how we can implement it. It is very difficult for busy journalists who are battling to get their next story in - while there are manpower shortages -  to also follow-up on tools like these. The same goes for us as the information specialists who need to look after our collections, and battle our growing backlog issues.

But can we continue to ignore the huge information possibilities available to us through online tools?

Blog post by Karen du Toit, Afrikaans Archivist in the SABC Radio Archives.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Weekly Archivist interview: English Archivist

Phindile Maringa
The SABC Radio Archives has Archivists who focus specifically on a specific radio station and/or an indigenous language. This is the last interview as part of a series of interviews where they answer the same questions addressed to them.

It is a way of getting a better understanding of what an Archivist do, as well as getting a better insight into the scope of our collections.

The Archivist answering the questions this week is Phindile Maringa. She is the archivist for SAFM. She has been with the Radio Archives for nearly 3 years.

Phindile, please tell us a little bit about yourself. (Where you grew up, where and what you studied and your work experience before you joined the SABC Radio Archives)

I was born at Elim, Waterval in the Limpopo province, and have studied at the University of the North. I have acquired a B.A and B. Honors in Media and Communication studies. I have worked for Heinemann publishers as a publishing assistant and David Krut publishers as a communication officer.
I started working for SABC through a graduate programme, in the TV programme Archives on the 14th of February 2008. I joined SABC Radio Archives on the 1st of August 2008 as an English Archivist.

Please tell us about a normal day in your studio. What material do you work with?

My normal day in the studio involves recording, editing, cataloguing, quality checking, labeling, filing and priority is given to drama.

Do you struggle with technical difficulties?

At times yes, but with people ready to assist at all times makes it easier to deal with all difficulties.

If you have an anecdote about a specific piece of interesting audio material, please share it with us.

This is a tough one, as there is a lot of material! I have to mention the interesting audio of a book reading “Long walk to freedom” about Nelson Mandela and Africa’s greatest entrepreneur, about how the richest people in Africa get where they are today. Above all I had a chance to listen to the voice of Johann Greyling (colleague), an interview with him ten years back, about the Nandos advertisement.

Tell us why you enjoy doing the work that you do

Working with information has been an area of interest to me. This is complemented by using technology in the process of preserving this information.

Related posts:
The Weekly Archivist interview: Sport Archivist
The Weekly Archivist interview: Channel Africa collection
The Weekly Archivist interview: Ikwekwezi FM
The Weekly Archivist interview: Music
The Weekly Archivist interview: News and actuality
The Weekly Archivist interview: Afrikaans
The Weekly Archivist interview with the Manager of the SABC Radio Archives

Questions and blog post by Karen du Toit, Afrikaans Archivist in the SABC Radio Archives.