Two new web sites: Scrapblogging, and a “coming soon” one for personal stories

Scrapblog: a Scrapbooking website. [via TechCrunch] Do your digital scrapbooking online. A perfect follow-on to Scanfest. I spent about 10 minutes playing in the preview section, the scrapbook pages are very nicely designed, and it seems pretty dang easy to use.

Before I even had time to try it out, I see via Scripting News that there’s a new site coming: Story of My Life. I signed up for the beta, looking forward to more.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 30, 2007 in • Personal History
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Have a video iPod? Get a Belkin TuneTalk

Belkin TuneTalk with iPod video I got to try out the Belkin TuneTalk stereo microphone for the iPod video (and 2nd generation iPod Nano) at BarcampLA3 this last weekend. If you have an iPod video, then seriously consider getting this $70 microphone for recording interviews.

Older iPods (starting from 3rd Generation) include the ability to record Voice Memos, with a separate microphone attachment. The recording quality, though, was crappy—the same as what you hear on the phone. With the Video iPod, the Voice Memo recording ability got highly revamped from crappy to good. (Crappy = 8 kHz mono—phone call; good = Stereo CD quality: 16 bit 44.1kHz).

Voice memos are pretty easy to record, so you get portability and ease of use with high quality audio. The audio files are stored in WAV (uncompressed audio) files. Perfect.

The mics are omnidirectional, so they’ll pick up everything in the room with you, so a quiet recording location is important. I managed ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 26, 2007 in • AudioAudio: HardwareInterviewing
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Scanfest

I had composed a huge post talking all about scanfest. Then, just as I neared the completion of it, Firefox crashed, taking my words and thoughts with it. So, while the black cartoon scribble above my head dissipates, I’ll just say this: it was fun, let’s do it again. Voice chat via Gizmo Project was fun. I liked it. It was distracting (I wasn’t the only distracted one), let’s have more just-social chats to get the “get to know you” out of our systems so we can do scanning, file naming and chatting simultaneously. I scanned two letters (one involved 14 separate files). It’s a start.

It was good to “meet” Miriam, Denise, Lee, Jasia, Amy, and Apple. I hope I didn’t miss anyone. Like I said, it was distracting (especially as I was copying and pasting from one IM to another, and then talking up chat topics to the voice-over-IP chat, and typing the Voice synopsis to the typed group IM chat… all while trying to dream up file naming conventions for the letters I was scanning.)

(and I’m going to change the defaults of this software to save draft posts and then publish them. That is just too arrgh-y to repeat)

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on in • GenealogyPhotographs
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The Lost last 20 years; and a plea for paper (!!!)

1980-2000 has disappeared into the ether. Sorry. The history that’s being written right now does not have this kind of sensory fulness (if it’s being saved at all): “I have recently spent many hours in the National Archives, ferreting through the wartime records of MI5. The sheer richness of written material is overwhelming: letters, memos, telephone transcripts, diaries, scribbled notes in the margins. You can smell the pipe smoke and personalities wafting off the pages.”

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on in • DigitalityLongevity
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Three brief thoughts on listening

I interviewed my dad last weekend. Interviewing is listening. Listening takes energy. I’ve learned that I need to consider my own energy level – and the energy level of the interviewee when I plan and do the interview. Afterwards, I’m pooped, especially if an interview comes in context of a family visit, which includes travel, setting up, interview, socializing, travel home.

I ran across two “listening” thoughts recently.

Listening is a lost art. “People aren’t really listening, they waiting for their turn to talk.  Or they’re formulating their talking points while someone else is talking.” Oral history is a cure for this. Or, if not a cure, a way to discover and battle those (”Well—” and “But—”) tendencies within yourself. One upside: You get to choose the topic that the other person talks about. Which, depending on the chit-chat tendencies of the person you’re interviewing, can be A Very Good Thing.

You don’t learn very much when you yourself are talking. That was one person’s highlight from a podcast interview held with Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO, The context was business, but this came from ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 23, 2007 in • Interviewing
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Switched Hosts

I just switched hosts for this site. There may be funkiness until things settle with domain name pointing. Comments are disabled on old site, Enabled on this site. I’ll change some settings in the next 12 hours or so to make everything points to the (moved) domain name, and not the temporary name on the new server. Thanks for your patience.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 19, 2007 in • Housekeeping
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Whither Audio or Video

Recording family stories: Which is better, audio or video? This question came up last week at the L.A. Podcasters meetup while talking to a podcaster (Karen “KFC” Blanchette, aka Podchick) about this site’s topic–recording and preserving family memories.

She asked me, “Why not video?”

I’ve been asked that before.

I talked about the barrier that video imposes—how things need to look good. The interviewee has to make him or herself presentable, and the environment also has to look good. I said, “The last couple of family members I interviewed, it would have been much harder to do on video. One was in a room that wasn’t photogenic at all, and when I interviewed my great aunt, she wore her robe and sat on the couch. I don’t think that she’d have let me videotape her wearing a robe. My boyfriend’s mother, who’d had cancer and lost hair from chemotherapy, always said, ‘Don’t take my picture!’ so there’s no way she would have talked on ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on in • AudioDo it: YourselfInterviewingVideo
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Carnival of Genealogy #20: A Tribute to Women

Carnival of Genealogy is up. I’ve been making my way through all the entries as genealogy bloggers remember women in their lives. Great stories and remembrances of women– many grandmothers. It’s SO worth a visit. Since my entry was (probably) the biggest downer of the group, I’m happy to see that the theme for next time around is more in keeping with the goofiness of April Fool’s Day. Deadline is, of course, April 1.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on in • GenealogyPersonal History
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Why International Women’s Day is Hard

International Womens Day How did a woman who left New York for the west, and rode a horse named Chief and climbed to the summit of Mt. Rainier in her 20s, in the 1920s – how did she come to this?

It’s International Women’s day, March 8. Blog posts abound. I write this after the fact. Not because I forgot about it, though the 8th was a busy day. But because I have a hard time with International Women’s Day. March 8, that day, has a different meaning to me.

[Note: see update at very end]

The kernel of the story is hard: Early that morning, my grandmother woke up. Fell. Pain. Broken hip. (this, some three months after falling and breaking her hip. The first time.) What we know comes from grandpa’s phone call. She fell. Broke her hip. She’s gone and by the time you get here, I’ll be gone, too. Gunshot wounds. Police tape. News stories, and shock.

He came from gun people. We have pictures from long ago of him, holding a rifle, crouching low beside a big gleaming trophy. Another photo shows two teenage boys (my dad, my uncle) standing each with his gun on either side of a deer carcass. We’ve gone out to the desert on family trips— set up empty sodapop cans on a log and ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 17, 2007 in • Personal History
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History Digitized (and Abridged) Follow-up

A follow-up post (read my previous) with various responses to the Katie Hafner article on History Digitized.

But before I do, I’ll offer my own, small what-if thought about how to get a bigger budget to digitize historical artifacts: I know of efforts and companies moving into this space. What they do: Digitizing Your Memories. Your Personal History. (Heck, this site is also an effort in this direction). Suppose that the players in this space were to create a fund from a small portion of proceeds of each company? The fund would underwrite digitization efforts. It’d never get as big as the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, but it’d be focused on This One Thing.

Speaking of Bill Gates, David Rothman compares libraries to the steel industry (once a giant, now a weak shadow of its former self), concentrating on library budgets in a “follow the money.” What’s the library budget per person? He’s got the goods. Incidentally, Andrew Carnegie, who founded (funded?) so many libraries, got his money from steel. Rothman looks at the benefactor Bill Gates, and what his fund is buying (computing equipment) and what it is not (digitizing the data, the content, the stuff). Rothman’s Steel-and-Libraries inspiration comes from a post by Peter Brantly, digital librarian: There was a moment in the history of the steel industry where it could have adapted ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 12, 2007 in • DigitalityHistoryLongevity
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History: If it isn’t digital, it doesn’t exist

History: Digitized and Abridged. Not everything will get digitized. And the non-digital will be overlooked. This NYTimes article by Katie Haffner provides a fascinating (and sobering) twist on the trend toward digitality. [via Dave Winer, Scripting News] It’s very expensive to transfer all those archives of artifacts into digital form. Who will support the digitizing of historical artifacts? And how much stuff – and history– will get “lost” as an increasingly-digital-aware public overlooks the items that aren’t in digital form?

While the Internet boom has made information more accessible and widespread than ever, that very ubiquity also threatens records and artifacts that do not easily lend themselves to digitization — because of cost, but also because Web surfers and more devoted data hounds simply find it easier to go online than to travel far and wide to see tangible artifacts.

The article touches on matters of copyright. Copyright laws—which have extended the term of copyright from the original 7 years to over 90 years—does not touch on matters of digital preservation. An example of how things get mucked up as a result: A collection from Leonard Bernstein was donated to the Library of Congress. In ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 11, 2007 in • DigitalityHistoryLongevity
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“Now, where do we take this to have this developed?”

A must-listen story: Memories – both visual and aural (MP3, 8+ mins). Brooks Jensen describes a tape recording he made with his grandparents in this podcast episode (his podcast home page– on photography and the creative process). [via email from Ralph Brandi]

Brooks Jensen totally nails one point, and says it so well. (I’m both pleased to hear him say it and a tad jealous that I didn’t think of it in these words. ) 

I have for years and years understood that we are—you and I—the first generation in the history of the planet to have such capabilities so easily. For you and I, recording audio and capturing that sound of people’s voices—that living sound—we are the first generation who can do that. At least we’re the first generation who can do it so easily, so inexpensively, so readily, with such portable equipment. and with the incredible advantages and quality that’s available to us with the with exigent technologies.

Another thing ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 08, 2007 in • Personal History
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Oral History Conference in Iran

A one-day oral history conference was just held in Iran.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on in • Oral history in the news
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Lives Connected - Katrina Oral History

Lives Connected (uses Flash) is a website presenting video oral history of accounts of surviving Katrina. All the interviewees are staff of the New Orleans-based Peter A. Meyer Advertising Agency.

lives connected [Click image to enlarge] The website is an experiment in “data visualization” in Flash*—there’s a line that extends from the name of the current interviewee, with themes about what is discussed. Clicking the title for a theme creates a tree for that theme,  containing names of other people who discuss the same theme. Rather than sitting through one video and then another, the viewer can jump around from topic to topic.

(I would like to see a list of all topics somewhere. I came to it thinking, “Oh, Katrina oral history” and not “oOh, the stories of people who work at a NOLA Ad Agency” and so I hunted around to see if there was anyone in the oral history who did not evacuate.)

The ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 05, 2007 in • AfterwardsLinksOral History Projects
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