At right is a little bit about our philosophy and our work. Below are our names and email addresses.

If you're interested in our organization, would like to help us out in some way, want to let us know about an upcoming event, or have some other comment or question, please email us at: arc at amherst dot edu. Or you can send email to any one of us personally, just attach "@amherst.edu" to the end of the parenthesized usernames below.

Members
Nick Doty (npdoty)
Brooks Paige (tbpaige)
Jesse McCarthy (jdmccarthy)
Tracy Rubin (tdrubin)
Alex Apostolides (aapostolides)
Jessamyn Conell-Price (jsconellprice)

What We Do

The Amherst Recording Council was founded by Nick Doty in the Spring of 2004 to record lectures and events on the Amherst College campus. We do this so that the College might have a record of the various and interesting goings on -- and so that we might remember as an intellectual community including students, professors, and alumni, the richness and diversity of opinion, polemic, reflection and creativity that we are so fortunate to possess.

In less grandiose terms, we are passionate about recording things. Various academic departments, student organizations and College offices pay or otherwise convince a wide range of speakers to come to the campus and give lectures on their various specialties. But we don't just record visiting lecturers, as you can see from a complete list of our recordings on this website. For example, we make a point of recording the fortnightly Coffeehouse hosted at Marsh House which showcases the wide range of talents, humour, music and poetry which characterizes our student body.

Those of us who make a point of attending these events often find them intriguing, and an extremely valuable part of our experience and interaction with the College community. Unfortunately we are occasionally let down by busy times of the year (particularly April) when the calendar is packed. It quite often becomes the case that there are two lectures that we feel strongly about taking place at the same time, or we simply find ourselves swamped by work.

The ARC creates an online audio archive that makes the events you may have missed, or been too busy to attend, available to you at any time. It also gives prospective students and alumni a glimpse of the ongoing tradition and vitality of the liberal arts at Amherst College.


"The power to record sound was one of three essential powers of the gods in ancient societies, along with that of making war and causing famine. According to a Gaelic myth, it was precisely by opposing these three powers that King Leevellyn won legitimacy. Recording has always been a means of social control, a stake in politics, regardless of the available technologies. Stockpiling memory, retaining history or time, distributing speech, and manipulating information has always been an attribute of civil and priestly power, beginning with the Tables of the Law."

- Jacques Attali, Noise: The Political Economy of Music (1977)

Technically What We Do

At the moment we only record audio -- there might be some advantages in having video records of all of these events, but we deem that these advantages, if they do exist, are small. And we have found that there is something to audio that in many cases seems to distill a lecture down to its very core, and can perhaps make a better record than a video of the same occasion might.

We record using portable DAT or CD recorders. DAT stands for Digital Audio Tape and has generally been considered the highest quality audio recording one can make with a portable device. After the event is finished, the equipment (including the tape) is returned to the Media Center and then the tape is transferred to CD using a DAT recorder plugged into one of the Media Center's Audio CD recorders. CDs are easier to work with. Once transfered to a computer, we use the resulting AIFF or MP3 file for basic editing and distribution to our website.

This process can be improved and we will attempt to do so in the coming year. Theoretically we can now record from an XLR mic directly into a laptop. This makes the process a lot easier and reduces the number of transfers in which there can be a loss of quality. It would also mean that this website could be much more easily and more quickly updated after events. If you have technical know-how of this sort and are interested please let us know.