The hypotheses we make and the constraints that we recognize are the following:
However, if one takes into account the wide variety of CSCL tools and transcription conventions followed by researchers, it seems illusionary to attempt to propose a common transcription/trace format or even hope to define a kind of “pivot format” that can represent human activity, whether it is through an exceedingly complex format that expresses all the shades and variations possible or whether it is through a simplified format that expresses a lowest common denominator. It is easier and more reasonable to imagine that the XML trace documents are conserved, unchanged, in their original form, as the researcher choses to record them. Consequently, it becomes necessary to give the researcher a tool that lets him or her explore the collected corpus through a friendly interface. The minimal functionalities that should be supplied are:
The method we propose here is designed to support researchers
for analysis according to a given coding schema, selection of
analyses already done in order to perform further analyses, and
finally comparison of analyses done by different coders or with
We make the hypothesis that this primary corpus will be considered as fixed and unchangeable. All other documents created at a later date from this primary corpus will be an extract, a comment or an interpretation of the primary. Any annotation to the documents in this base will be expressed through an intermediary document (the “anchors document”) that will contain references to the primary corpus.
The methodology described above allows us to make up a corpus that contains all of the available data, without any information loss, as no data is translated from one format to another. As mentioned previously, this corpus should be visualized and explored by the researcher. He or she should also be able to designate particular elements, annotate them and extract these elements or parts of them.
We use the term « point in a corpus » to designate a reference to an item in the corpus. Such an item is, for example, the location of a word, a sentence or a paragraph in a text, an element in an XML document, a spot or an area in a picture, an excerpt of a video/audio document, etc.
Let's give some examples of analysis situations. A researcher can ask the following questions on a corpus :
However, we cannot expect the human and social sciences researcher
to master the different representations used in specific software,
even through the most friendly XML editors. We must therefore
provide him or her with a tool that allows a visualization of
the corpus he or she wishes to analyze.
The tool must handle data of most CSCL and CSCW systems (e.g. LEAD tools, DREW, Digalo) and audio/video recording tools (e.g. Transana). The interface should enable access to raw trace files and to the replayer functionalities.
The Alpha prototype will be built according to the proposed model and will firstly be tested on a selection of computer-mediated human interaction traces by researchers using the Rainbow framework. Next, we will address a second analysis method and test its use by researchers. Our ultimate goal is to provide an observation base of primary corpora that, through the definition of anchors, allows researchers to annotate, analyze, validate analyses and visualize data using a single adaptive tool while thinking of the future re-use of the work done.
From a technological point of view, the interface between the
electronic Discussion tool (DSS) and the analysis tool is limited
Tatiana: Trace Analysis Tool for Interactions ANAlysts. This is the tool developed for the Lead Project, but it will also handle traces from different discussion tools (Coffee, Drew, DrewLite, Digalo, etc).
DrewLite is a simplified version of this tool running on a LAN with a less elaborate environment for managing sessions and traces. A simple trace viewer and converter comes also with DrewLite.