Multiplicity 101 Podcast #8 – Mailbag, Related Media, History

The Feathers are back and Plural Activism has got’em! In this episode, they’ll open the mailbag, take a look at the latest attempts to portray multiple personality on television, and shake out some plural myths and facts. Plus How to Eat Out As a Plural System, history of multiple personality and a look behind the scenes at the making of these podcasts. No interview this time… they’ll have another one in Episode 9.

(My apologies for posting this so late… this has been a busy month for us. -Aisling)

The transcript follows below.

— Intro —

Aisling: Hey there, and welcome to Multiplicity 101. I’m Aisling.

Annie: And I’m Annie. We’re from the Feathers system, and we’ll be your hosts today.

Aisling: What is Multiplicity 101? It’s an educational podcast of Plural Activism, a group devoted to dispelling myths about multiplicity/plurality.

Annie: Which refer to the idea of more than one mind in a body.

Aisling: Like us!

Annie: Like us.

Aisling: And we always like to hear from you, our listeners. So feel free to email us at

Annie: Yeah, we’ll try to answer your questions in a later podcast.

Aisling: So yeah, we decided to try a little more informal style this time. To try to make it a little friendlier.

Annie: Just two friends hanging out and talking about plurality.

Aisling: Yep. And you know… each time we do a podcast, we say, okay, that was enough. This is the last one.

Annie: I know I’ve said it more than once.

Aisling: But we’re still here.

Annie: There’s been a lot of difficulties with it. Believe it or not, it’s caused some epic arguments with friends.

Aisling: And related to that, it’s been pretty hard to bring things to a simple level while still representing everyone.

Annie: Umm yeah, and it’s related because our attempts at simplification are exactly what got us in trouble with people.

Aisling: Interviews are pretty difficult, too, which you’ll hear more about in a while. We’re gonna talk about the process of making the podcast in this one.

Annie: It’s not all bad though. We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback.

Aisling: Mmhmm, yeah, we have.

Annie: I feel like we’re helping people with what we’re doing. We’re going live on iTunes and other places, and explaining and demystifying a lot of things. We’re trying to take plurality from an exotic, weird thing, to something the average Joe can get.

Aisling: And that’s another thing we’re talking about today – common perceptions of plurality.

Annie: And that’s just scratching the surface! There’s a lot in today’s show.

Aisling: But anyway, another thing we like about this is that it’s good team building for us. You might not think people who share a body would need team building, but we do.

Annie: It takes a lot of cooperation to build this beast.

Aisling: Aaand you’ll get to find out just how much.

Annie: Heh. We think we’re getting better each time and we hope you all do too. We’re just trying to do a service to all plural people in the world by bringing understanding and sympathy for all of us.

Aisling: We try.

Aisling: And after that inspirational talk, I also have to let you know, this one isn’t going to have an interview. We wanted to focus more on topics today, and give ourselves a break from the interview work. We’ll pick back up with the interviews next month.

— Mail Bag —

Annie: And our first ever mailbag segment!

Aisling: Woohoo!

Annie: One comment we got about the previous podcasts was that we used the word “system” a lot, and that maybe it is a kind of cold and clinical term to use in a people-context.

Aisling: We’re computer nerds, so it really doesn’t bother us, but I can understand the concern.

Annie: Yeah, the comment relayed to us was along the lines of, but we’re talking about people, here. And I guess we just wanted to address that, why we use that word.

Aisling: The first half of that is that when we say “system”, we really aren’t intending to talk about a person. In some cases, like with some median systems, the system is more or less synonymous with a person. But in many cases it’s really not.

Annie: The system, in those other cases, refers to a group of people who share a body.

Aisling: Mmm. The second half is that, honestly, a lot of people are in agreement with you. There are a ton of different terms people use, like “group”, “collective”, “family”, “cooperative”… I’m sure that if there’s a term for a group of people, some system out there has used it.

Annie: Corporation?

Aisling: Sure, why not? This is really a highly individual decision left up to the system themselves, and we try to use the right word when we’re told what it is.

Annie: Like Plures House, our guests from a few podcasts back.

Aisling: Right, yeah. But the nice thing about “system” is that it’s sort of universally known and understood in the community. It’s got a strong and specific meaning, which is helpful when you’re trying to talk about difficult subjects.

Annie: Another person wrote in that they’d like to hear more in depth coverage of gateway systems and other-worlds. We’ll have to add that to our list for next time, thank you!

— Media —

Annie: So, let us get on to the topic of related media! These are some things that are not necessarily about plurality, but they made us go, ooh! ooh!

Aisling: Just like that. Ooh ooh!

Annie: Stop it, you~

Annie: Our first item is the new Pixar movie, Inside Out. First of all, if you haven’t seen it, go see it. It’s adorable.

Aisling: I dare you not to cry during it.

Annie: Yes, back to form, Pixar awesomeness. But anyway, yes, we saw the idea of little people living inside one’s head and helping to run things, and the comparison was inevitable.

Aisling: The thing is, the movie doesn’t portray plurality. You can’t read too deeply into this one. It’s just what it says it is — a portrayal of people’s emotions.

Annie: Yeah, ultimately that’s what they are — not individual people who share a body. But it’s nice in that it introduces the public, gently, to the general idea of people in a body sharing and controlling it.

Aisling: It’s got some things that are tantalisingly like plurality too, like something kind of like an other-world. Which we talked about in a previous podcast.

Annie: Although, again, they are just symbolic structures representing the person’s mind. There are no doubt some plural systems out there that have an other-world like that, but that doesn’t seem to be the norm.

Aisling: Nope. So the overall verdict on this one is, it’s typical Pixar cuteness, go see it. But ultimately it’s not about plurality.

Annie: In fact it may confuse some people with plurality, even, because they might say “oh, plurality just means that you have people who are parts of you, who are like your emotions”. And there are types of plural systems like that, but the topic is much broader.

Aisling: Yep. Well… I don’t have much else to say on that, so shall we move on to Sense8?

Annie: Sure.

Aisling: Sense8 is a Netflix series that was created by some of my favourite TV and movie people. J Michael Straczynski, the Wachowskis, and Tom Tykwer were all involved.

Annie: And those people are…?

Aisling: Well, JMS wrote Babylon 5, the Wachowskis of course created The Matrix and the Cloud Atlas movie, and Tom Tykwer was involved with Run Lola Run, another one of my favourites.

Annie: Ah, I see. So tell us about the show?

Aisling: Well, Sense8 is about a group of eight people who end up entangled in something like a collective consciousness. There’s some spooky evil they’re dodging and fighting, but it’s largely sort of slice-of-life. Them getting used to being connected and how it messes with their lives.

Annie: Also, all the trigger warnings.

Aisling: Yeah, sex, violence, and others… don’t go into this one if you’ve got any trigger warning issues. But anyway, like Inside Out, this isn’t about plurality. But it’s quite a bit like it in some ways. It’s eight minds in eight bodies, instead of eight minds in one body. But they’ve got shared memories, shared abilities…

Annie: Mental coordination… Switching, for who has the best skill for a situation…

Aisling: Visiting another of their group, which honestly reminds me of visiting another systemmate in our other-world.

Annie: But yeah, like… don’t watch it if any of our warnings have made you worried, but otherwise, check it out. It’s pretty good.

Annie: And that brings us to the third item in our media section today: What’s Left of Me

Aisling: Ohh these books.

Annie: Yes. The Hybrid Chronicles. Kat Zhang, their author, has been asked if she intended any connection with plurality, and she’s said no. But you could be forgiven for believing that was the intent, anyway.

Aisling: Yeah. They are explicitly about a kind of plurality, even if it’s not set in this world. They take place in a parallel universe. In that place, everyone is born with two souls per body. And as they grow up, they’re supposed to “settle”, or lose one of the souls.

Annie: If that sounds heartless, then you are probably in good company with the narrative. Some people don’t lose their other soul, inevitably. Those people become known as “hybrids”, and they’re hunted mercilessly by the government. The book is about a few such people.

Aisling: It’s a dystopian story that’s really not that far off the mark in a lot of ways. Plurals aren’t exactly hunted down here, but we aren’t very well understood or respected, either.

Annie: These books have some very good illustrations of how many aspects of plurality work for many people. We’d highly recommend them if you’re at all interested in the topic.

Aisling: They’re also just really good writing and they’re entertaining.

Annie: Page turners for sure. And Kat, if you’re listening out there, thank you. It’s great that someone is singing the songs of all the Evas in the world.

— Common mythology —

Aisling: So one thing we’re going to be doing this episode, too, is taking a look at the popular view of plurality.

Annie: What the media portrays, what people believe, and so on…

Aisling: Yeah. There are a lot of misconceptions out there, and even a few things people get right.

Annie: <chuckle> I like how you say that. “Even a few things people get right.”

Aisling: It’s true, though. There are more misconceptions than correct understandings. Much like anyone and any group, sometimes the things we fear in others may indeed manifest. It happens. But they aren’t necessarily the norm.

Annie: Same with plurality, yeah. We’re just people like anyone else. We just happen to share a body. So the first thing we want to start with is the idea that it’s not real.

Aisling: That we have to prove that it’s true, yeah. This one’s really pervasive. The thing is, you can’t prove singlethood, either.

Annie: Nope. Prove to us that you’re only one person inside. Prove to us that your single identity isn’t something made up by several people inside you.

Aisling: You can’t do it because you can’t prove anything about what’s going on inside a person.

Annie: No. But we have an answer for you anyway, which is that MRIs have actually shown different patterns of brain activity when different systemmates were in front.

Aisling: Science, yo.

Annie: Yep. And you can disbelieve science, as a lot of people do, but the hard evidence is there, even if it’s in small doses.

Aisling: There are documented cases where different systemmates need different glasses prescriptions, have different allergy reactions, and so on.

Annie: It’s also so common that it ought to have its own term, that people who disbelieve come away from their first meeting with a plural system as believers. At least when they witness switching and so forth. Very common in the literature.

Aisling: There’s a related thing, where people think you’re just making it up, or pretending for attention. Even among people who believe plurality is real, they will sometimes think an individual system is making it up.

Annie: Yeah, and we get that both within the community, in the form of accusations of appropriation, and without, from people who believe that it’s make-believe, role-playing, or acting. And I just have to say, I get it. I do. Looks can be deceiving from the outside. But really, why would you make something like that up? Like with the Hybrid Chronicles characters, plurals are not treated well at all.

Aisling: Yeah, you’ll get lucky and get a few friends who understand and roll with it, but it’s more common that people will disbelieve you, think you’re crazy, or just plain stop being friends with you. And that’s if they don’t have some kind of power to have you committed. That’s even scarier. Job loss, friend loss. We all have those sorts of threats hanging over our heads every day.

Annie: Yeah, it is a fight to be who we are. Which is why we are activists, and why we have this podcast at all.

Annie: Why do people want to challenge us so strongly, anyway? Is it their own sense of how things “ought” to be?

Aisling: Or fear that someone’s going to make a fool of you. <sigh> I’m sure some people really do this, pretend to be plural. Especially on places like Tumblr. But realistically, let’s just think about it. It wouldn’t be an easy act to keep up. Many of us have been at this for years. Decades. Would you really keep up all that effort for attention?

Annie: I don’t see what’s wrong with taking people at their word as they explore themselves. Even if it later turns out to be wrong. It really is a bizarre sort of thing to claim falsely.

Aisling: <sigh> Very frustrating topic.

Annie: Yes… So let’s move on to something even more frustrating: dangerous systemmates.

Aisling: Oh gods, yes.

Annie: It’s a common misconception that every plural system has dangerous systemmates. Felons of all stripes.

Aisling: Which is patently ridiculous. Think of it like a family of singlets — of course some families do have those types. It happens. But most don’t, and even in the rare case that they do, the other family members work to keep them on the straight and narrow.

Annie: One of the reasons people believe this is that there was a famous system, Billy Milligan, who actually did have some unsavoury behaviour from a few of their systemmates. But look – the DSM, what’s often called the bible of psychiatry, estimates that up to 1% of the population have DID, dissociative identity disorder.

Aisling: And DID is just a percentage of all plural systems.

Annie: Right, so– we’re talking about one percent of the population. In the US alone, that’s about 3 million people. And one Billy Milligan. Even if we are missing a few… 3 million people.

Aisling: That’s ignoring the idea that, say you meet some new friend, and you ask them– is there anyone dangerous in your family? You wouldn’t do that.

Annie: So please, don’t propagate this rumour.

Aisling: It’s also worth pointing out that there is a sort of informal code of conduct among many plural systems. That if one systemmate does something bad, everyone is responsible for it.

Annie: There is that, yes. Not that it’s an oath we all sign when we get our cards… did we get a card?… but it’s out there.

Aisling: So another one is that all switching is uncontrolled. If you’ve watched Fight Club, you’ve pretty much hit all of these conceptions.

Annie: <gasp> Spoilers!

Aisling: Yeah, I think we’re beyond the statute of limitations on that. Anyway, this one is not entirely untrue. Some systems do have troubles with switching uncontrollably. But just based on our experience, I’d say that’s less common than that switching is quite well controlled.

Annie: Yeah. That one is kind of a partial truth. While we’re going on about Fight Club, another one is that every system has complete blackouts. That’s where, when you switch with another systemmate and switch back later, you can’t remember anything that happened. Tabula Rasa.

Aisling: And this is another partial truth, because this does happen for some systems. Some systems have to keep logs or journals and leave notes for each other. But again, it largely seems to be the other way around — good communication between systemmates.

Annie: Another common concept is that every system has children. I think this probably came from psychiatry, where they believed that the children held the secrets of an inevitable trauma. But actually… the idea that all systems have children, it’s not universally true, but it’s pretty common.

Aisling: It really is, yeah. I wouldn’t say that the cause of every system’s children is trauma, but it’s common to have children in systems. We don’t have any children that interact with us in ours, though we do have someone who likes to put on the mask and appearance of a tween girl and hang around the front.

Annie: Sophie.

Aisling: Yeah.

Annie: She’s sticking her tongue out at me, haha! I was just asking if she wanted to say anything. Well, anyway, yes, having children in a system seems pretty common, though not universal.

Aisling: Another common concept is that all plural systems were born out of trauma. Some terrible event in childhood that caused a system to form, to cope.

Annie: And it’s another partial truth — many systems out there are actually formed out of trauma. But then again, many are not. It’s not correct to say that all of us are trauma-based.

Aisling: And I want to be really clear with all of this, the involuntary switching, the blackouts, the children, the trauma… none of these things make you a better or worse system, or a more valued or less valued system. It’s just that we have a lot of diversity in the community and we want to make sure it’s represented accurately. We may not always hit the mark but we want to try.

Annie: That said, let’s get back to the mostly false things. Oh, this one’s my favourite: that it’s a Tumblr thing.

Aisling: Yes, because Tumblr invented the world. Can you hear me rolling my eyes? (or would that be tumbling my eyes?)

Annie: I’m not going to spend much time on this because I think our upcoming section on history will completely put it to rest.

Annie: The next on our list is that every system needs to integrate.

Aisling: Integration is the psychiatric term that refers to taking all the systemmates and sort of fusing them into one person. I guess it makes sense if you believe that all of your systemmates are just pieces of a lost core anyway, but that is an uncommon attitude. Even among systems who feel that they were formed that way, systemmates tend to have more of a complete sense of self that would not do well being smushed together.

Annie: And the psych community doesn’t really even believe in it anymore. More and more commonly, it’s not considered the right course of action in helping out systems. Of course, some do want and need that — and they should totally pursue it — but it’s not universal.

Aisling: That leaves us with the last item in our list — the idea that we’re broken or crazy.

Annie: Some systems do believe this of themselves. Most of us feel sane and normal, even if we are not normative. Many of us lead considerably richer lives because of our plurality. And in some cases, it is a life saver — if someone is having too much trouble, they can step out of the way and let someone else help.

Aisling: I really don’t have statistics to back this up, but given what I know about the attitudes of the plural community, I would guess that the majority of us would choose to remain plural if we had an option. For most of us, it’s an important part of the rich tapestry of who we are, not a disease.

Annie: Yes. We consider it to just be another way of being, an example of neurodiversity. As we mentioned before, statistics show it’s a lot more common than people think. Of course there will be variation, including a few troubled people, just like the rest of the singlet world And a few who are truly just pretending. But that doesn’t mean the whole concept is bunk or crazy.

— Out to Eat —

Allie: Hey, it’s Allie. I’ve come back to help with a little skit about going to a restaurant.

Aisling: Yeah, it can get pretty interesting for plural systems.

Annie: Something that is so simple and straightforward for everyone else…

Aisling: This is just what it’s like for us. Your mileage may vary.


Aisling: So like… I’m hungry. I think I’m gonna go to Super Meat Burger.

Allie: Ugh, nothing they make is vegetarian. Not even the fries.

Annie: Yeah and that’s not exactly the best thing for the body.

Aisling: Yeah and I kinda want to get something Allie can eat too…

Allie: Aww.

Annie: How about Salad Buffet TM?

Aisling: Oh yeah, that actually sounds pretty good!

<cue restaurant noises, start loud, fade down>

Aisling: This place is hoppin’ tonight!

Annie: No kidding.

Aisling: Where do we start?

Allie: How about salads? Wink, wink.

Aisling: <sigh> Okay, okay, I get it.
Allie: <chuckle>

Aisling: As usual, taking up a whole table by ourselves.

Allie: Well, there are three of us.

Annie: Is someone over there giving us eating-alone pity looks?

Aisling: <scoff> Misplaced.

Annie: Totally.

Aisling: This salad is really good!

Allie: Oh, can I try? There’s no meat on it, right?

Aisling: Nope.

Allie: Wow, that actually is pretty good.

Annie: Lemme try? Yeah, not bad!

Aisling: So, what to get next?

Annie: I’m calling soup!

Allie: Yeah, soup sounds good.

Aisling: Soup it is!

Annie: Okay, this one I definitely want to try. Creamy cheese and broccoli? Uh, yum.

Annie: That really is good.

Allie: Lemme try…

Allie: Okay, not so hot on that one.

Aisling: Yeah, I’m thinking it’s so-so, too.

Annie: Can I have it?

Aisling: Sure.

Allie: Yeah.

Aisling: But I’m takin’ the mac and cheese.

Annie: Oh, alright.

Aisling: So, time for dessert.

Annie: What are our options?

Aisling: Well, there’s ice cream… and chocolate brownie fudge devil-thing.

Annie: The ice cream sounds good to me.

Allie: I’m with the chocolate thing.

Aisling: Let’s do both?

Annie: Yeah, sure.

Allie: Right on…

<transition to crickets>

Aisling: Wow that was a lot.

Annie: I’m not sure we came out ahead of Super Meat Burger, after all.

Allie: Sure was tasty, though.

Aisling: Sure was.

— Across History —

Aisling: We wanted to talk a little bit about plurality’s history.

Annie: There’s a lot to talk about.

Aisling: Yes, there is. This part of the podcast is going to be the longest, and it was the hardest for us to research and write.

Annie: This is a bit of dinner and theatre. So pause and go get your food, we’ll wait.

Aisling: We hope you enjoy the tour.

[transcript note: these sections are in a sort of low-fidelity recording sound]
Child’s Voice: Tell me a story?
Annie: What kind of a story?
Child: How ’bout the story of how we’re three?
Annie: Oh, that’s a good story. All of you, gather ’round… It starts a long, long time ago…

Annie: In the beginning, plurality was not feared, it often was revered.

Aisling: Plurality concepts are relatively common in non-monotheistic cultures. Animism, the belief that all objects have spirits one might communicate with, could be seen in that light. Some cultures also have a concept of visiting spirit guides in another world, which is very similar to visiting one’s headspace or inner world.

Annie: Another common aspect is “spirit possession”. The nature of it varies, but it’s been seen in cultures from North and South America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. Some cultures believed someone who could house spirits in their body or be easily possessed by them were natural religious leaders. It was anything from taking control of the body to give advice or divination, to helping the person in rituals or ceremonies.

Aisling: Many modern religions have similar views today, such as “drawing down the moon” or other god or goddess possession in western neo-pagan rituals. This is also called “horsing” sometimes. We’ll talk more about all of this and its relation to plurality in another show.

Annie: In the modern Western/European world, the documented cases go back to 1791, and continue on up through modern times. In the late 1790s, people in France were just experimenting with hypnotism, and learning about the idea of alternate consciousness. That idea of a second state of consciousness informed thought on the topic all the way through the 1920s.

Aisling: And in the 20s, the concept of trauma causing dissociation, or a split of consciousness, was introduced. There is still no other accepted model in modern psychology and psychiatry.

Child: But we’ve had a good life. No one’s ever hurt us.
Annie: Yeah. That’s right, sweetheart. And if I have anything to do with it, no one ever will. But some people do get hurt, and that’s where their people come from.
Child: It’s sad that they were hurt.
Annie: It is. But that’s a different story… as for this one…

Annie: Co-conscious, a word referring to two systemmates aware of each other and sharing awareness of the body, dates all the way back to 1906, with Morton Prince. His contemporary, William McDougall, had something to say about his theories.

[transcript note: this section sounds like a really old 1920s radio recording or something, with static in the background]
There are many psychologists who find no difficulty in accepting the descriptions of cases of the type discussed in the last chapter, and who nevertheless preserve an obstinate scepticism in face of the evidence for what Dr. Morton Prince has well called “coconsciousness.” In this they reveal, I think, a naive and borné state of mind. For if, as most of these sceptics assume, human consciousness is nothing more than a synthesis of discrete conscious elements (call them sensations or ideas, or what you will), there is no obvious reason why these elements should not cohere in two or several streams flowing side by side in time, rather than in a single stream. And if we take a strictly materialistic or epiphenomenalist or parallelist view of the mind-body relation, there is equally no reason why the functions of the nervous system, and especially of the cerebral cortex, should not take the form of two or more integrated groups of functions simultaneously proceeding, each with its attendant stream of conscious elements


Aisling: There have been a few media-famous multiples in the last century.

Annie: They weren’t treated very well, as a rule, either.

Aisling: Nope. Sybil was one. Her name was Shirley Mason. She was one of the more famous psychiatric cases in general. She was multiple, but not exactly a good role model. A whole slew of sensationalised and inaccurate movies were made about her, and her case inspired the addition of “multiple personality disorder” to the DSM, the psychiatric diagnostic manual.

Annie: Chris Costner-Sizemore, known largely by the story The Three Faces of Eve, was another who was badly sensationalised, in the 50s. In the end, they were even involved in a lawsuit to retain the rights to their life story as their therapists tried to sell it off for profit.

Aisling: Billy Milligan we mentioned earlier. And of course there’s Truddi Chase and the Troops, a famous multiple system with trauma origins. They produced a book called When Rabbit Howls, which was turned into a movie.

Annie: And amidst all of that, there was something of a manufactured multiple personality disorder scandal. A group of psychologists and psychiatrists claimed that there was no such thing as plurality. That it was all just something therapists caused in their patients in order to sell books.

Child: Why’d they do that? They sound like bullies.
Annie: Fear. They did it because of fear.
Child: What were they afraid of?
Annie: They were afraid of the unknown.

Annie: Terms like “multiple”, “system”, “switching”, and “multiplicity” date back to at least the 1980s. They were also used in psychiatry books.

Aisling: There were also mailing lists in the 80s for multiplicity and activism.

Annie: Yep. The term “singlet” seems to have come from the early 90s, with a mention of the word “singles”, as well as a DID system purposing the word “singleton” to describe those with a single mind in a body.

Aisling: Then there were the tulpamancers, who practised trying to induce systemmates and this become plural. That topic could use its own history talk.

Annie: The concept of multiplicity being natural born or healthy was notable enough even by 1998 that published an article which used the term “empowered multiples” as part of a series on DID. So yeah, there’s a large and active community on the internet. Many systems are still deep in the closet, though.

Aisling: We think it’s time to write the next chapter of this story and bring respect and safety to plurality. And that’s why we’re here, doing this.

Annie: And that’s how it was back then.
Annie: It’s not like today, where we’re accepted.
Child: I’m happy we’re here with you, moms.
Allie: We’re happy you’re here too, sweeties.
Allie: It’s time to go to sleep now.
Annie: Good night!
Child: Good night!

— About the Podcast —

Annie: So if you’ll allow us a little navel-gazing, we’ve got one more topic today. We’d like to talk about the process of making these podcasts.

Aisling: It’s pretty involved. But we figured it might be interesting to people, so here it is.

Aisling: So it starts with coming up with a list of topics, and asking around for interviewees.

Annie: We have lists of topics that we find through seeing what the community is talking and asking about. For interviewees, so far people have just volunteered for us when we asked. Which, all of you are awesome.

Aisling: Heck yeah. Thanks a bunch to everyone who’s interviewed and everyone who’s volunteered. <creepy>We’re coming for you next…

Annie: <laugh> So then, the topics are expanded out into outlines. We just write out anything that seems interesting and relevant about it. Like this topic, we just listed out… navel gazing… list of topics… expanded into outlines…

Aisling: At the same time, questions are sent to the interviewees. We’ve got a list of questions we’ve built up over time, to avoid my awkward “anything else?”

Annie: Once all that’s done, we have an inner conversation about the topics, using the outline as a guide. We’re literally having a conversation about this right now, and just writing down the results.

Aisling: Like I’m saying this.

Annie: And I’m saying this.

Aisling: And Annie just wrote that down…

Annie: Yeah, I think they get the point. After all that is done (or some of it, anyway), we go into recording mode. No fans, no AC, no other noise.

Aisling: In summer, not having AC is tough on hot days, so we try to do it in the mornings.

Annie: Yeah. No doubt we’re annoying our neighbours through the thin walls, too, but it can’t be helped. Each of us reads our lines, pretending we’re having the conversation again. It’s a little bit tricky trying to have a one-sided conversation, but with practice, it happens.

Aisling: Yeah, and sometimes people inside help out by putting in their parts for timing.

Annie: Yeah. When the first person is done, we switch and do the next person’s recording. We have to do that for each person, which is up to three of us at present.

Aisling: It’s really time consuming. A group of singlets could just sit in a room or on a Skype channel and talk it out naturally, but we can’t. Not only are we not capable of switching that fast, though some systems are, it’s also nice to have three separate tracks complete with their own background sounds. But we’ll get to that in just a minute.

Annie: So, when everyone is recorded for a segment, we do cleanup on the audio. We’re using an Audio Technica ATR-2100 USB microphone, so the audio is typically very clean. (That’s an improvement over our kind of crappy headset microphone from episode 5.) Which, if you don’t remember, sounded like this.

Aisling: Seriously.

Annie: But it’s still useful to remove any outtakes, “ummm”, tongue clicks, keyboard noises, whatever. The last pass is typically a dynamic compression filter, which makes the volume more consistent. Then we take the pieces of audio and cut them up and move them around so they line up.

Aisling: Yeah, ’cause we don’t always manage the timing exactly right. And sometimes we just want to adjust it for a different effect, anyway.

Annie: Yeah, the flow of conversation is important. And so is the background. We like to retain the “dead space” between lines so it sounds more like multiple microphones at once. In some cases, we purposefully overlay audio, <alAllie: like this>.

Aisling: Bit of fourth wall breaking, there. It’s worth pointing out that interviews are not done this way. They’re done in one take, typically over Skype. We record on this end using an app called Piezo. And we found that the quality on our end is better if we just use Audacity to record ourselves, so we do that, too.

Annie: Same basic post-processing though. Clean up pauses and umms, dynamic compression filter if needed, and so on.

Aisling: Then we have to do my least favourite part of the process, which is transcribing the interview.

Annie: Ugh, yes.

Aisling: We have to listen to the interview and type out what it says, one or two phrases at a time. Our speed is about 12 minutes of audio to one hour of transcribing, which is pretty slow.

Aisling: And then there’s the music. Someone goes into Garageband and tinkers with Apple Loops until we get something usable.

Annie: So! Yes. Once all of that is done, we load all the pieces into a big project in Audacity and line everything up. Levels are adjusted so all the volumes of the different parts match up. And finally, an MP3 is generated for beta testing.

Aisling: Which is later posted on Spreaker. Everything we wrote out before becomes the overall transcript of the show, and we post that in the normal places.

Annie: And that’s how a podcast is made!

— Outro —

Annie: Thank you for listening to Multiplicity 101.

Annie: You can be a future guest on Multiplicity 101. If you’re interested, please contact us at If you have any questions or comments, please email us also.

Aisling: This is an educational podcast of the group Plural Activism. Come join our discussion group on Yahoo Groups, called Plural_Activism. The URL will be in the show notes. []

Annie: You can find show notes and other information at our web site,, or at our Dreamwidth page,

Aisling: This podcast was produced with Audacity, a community-built audio editor, and the music was created in GarageBand. The podcast is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives licence, which means that you can copy it freely as long as you credit us and you don’t modify it. For all other uses, please contact us.

Narrator (old 1920s radio effect): That’s it for today, kiddos!

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