“Is it Better or Worse to know ME?”

Having put considerable thought into it: I am still unsure if it is better or worse to know ME.

I have returned from the Philippines. And already I feel like my research will add to the existing discussion on healthcare in the Philippines, and for third world countries in general. I also believe my research will establish a solid foundation for my PhD dissertation. Everyone probably feels that at some point. If my research actually contributes something is still hard to know until I reach the finish line. First step: I must type out and analyze the 100+ interviews I did in the Philippines.

If you have never done transcription before, it is simultaneously an interesting and painful process. Not as interesting or painful as seeing a dentist perform your root canal live via a ceiling mounted widescreen television… but still interesting and painful. The painful sensation in transcription is similar to sitting in a dentist chair. In a dentist chair, sometimes the dentist will hit a nerve or another tender spot in your mouth… and there really is no warning. You go from sitting in a tedious position with your mouth open… to sudden pain, and then back to sitting in a tedious position… wondering when the next painful moment will happen.

Transcribing interviews is a similar experience. Some interviews yield only raw data like age, income, health insurance status, etc. But then the next interview might involve someone who is angry, or crying… or laughing. It can be an emotional roller coaster. No two interviews are exactly the same. A few interviews I remember enough to KNOW what is going to be said… but other interviews I feel blindsided because I did them weeks ago and I don’t remember the emotional parts.

Furthermore, at the dentist… you sit there sometimes without any real idea how long the dental procedure is going to take. Is there 10 minutes left or 30 minutes left? Transcription is similar.

And transcription takes a long time. Depending on sound quality (background noise), how loud the person was talking, etc… sometimes 15 minutes of an interview can take up to an hour to type. No, that is not an exaggeration. And I have several hours of interviews to get through.

How much transcription is too much transcription in one day? I can normally only do 2 or 3 hours a day. Maybe I don’t have the mental/emotional endurance to do longer. Maybe 2 hours is actually a really good accomplishment for one day. I’m not sure.

I expect (hope) when I am finished that my final product will be worth all the work. Similar to a good dentist who produces a picture perfect smile, my work will produce an interesting peek into the Philippine slums and healthcare. But it’s not like a marathon… because I don’t know when it ends. For now… the finish line seems like it’s in a galaxy far, far away.

All I have is the belief that my work is worthwhile… pushing me toward an invisible finish line. But can I calculate the transcription finish line?

Average Time to transcribe 15 minutes of an interview (A) * Number of Interviews (N) * Average Time of each interview’s length in minutes (T) = Minutes Endured (ME)


A * N * T = ME

Hmmm… if I figure out the true ME now, I may not be able to finish this project because it may become demoralizing to learn how many minutes of transcription I still need to endure. Or… maybe knowing the true ME will provide some motivation because I will know the end target.

What do you think? Is it better or worse to know ME?

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