Now that you've done an oral history, what will you do with it?

Transcription or Dictation: Will HAL Open the Pod Bay Doors?

Dave Bowman, in 2001, interacts with the HAL 9000 computer. “Is there some way to automatically transcribe a recording?” That’s a question I recently received from this site. Automatically? What does that mean? In my mind’s eye, I see that this automatic transcription software should closely resemble the HAL 9000 computer from 2001: A computer that talks and can understand human speech. It’s a high ideal, but there are still technicalities involved. My conclusion, a while back, was, “I’m sorry, Dave, I just can’t do that.”

Is Automatic Speech Transcription HAL getting any closer to opening the Pod Bay Doors?

I conduct some tests using some speech-to-text tech I have on hand, and see how it stacks up against standard transcription. In this post: the test results, lessons learned, and best practices for each technique.

The HAL 9000, the computer from 2001 whichcould understand human speech (and even lip-reading!) The current state of HAL 9000:

There are many devices, services and software that act like Hal: Siri on iOS, the Android Google Voice, or any number of corporate voice address systems that say “speak your request and I’ll get you to the right department.”

With my 3rd generation iPad (March 2012 Retina Display, running the iOS version 5.x), I use the Dictation feature ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on February 13, 2013 in • AfterwardsAudioAudio: SoftwareHow-ToTranscription
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New blog carnival: Digital Storytelling

At Creating Lifelong Learners, Mathew kicks off the Digital Storytelling Blog Carnival. The carnival is monthly, and is geared toward video (if you’ve seen my movie, Interviewing my Mom about her Mom, you know that ‘video’ is subject to wider interpretations). A good set of links if you’re interested in telling stories using digital video. Submit entries here.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on January 18, 2008 in • AfterwardsVideo
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Making a recording self-explanatory

I’ve been finalizing an Audio CD of a 1980-era recording that my Mom gave to me. (For her birthday). I’m making copies for her and for a brothers and a coupla cousins that will be at a family gathering. The “think long term” mindset has dug in and changed the way I mark CDs and my other “metadata” (data about the data) that I’m including with the CD. The recording came to me with some gaps in info, a generation and family branch removed, so I’m learning by doing and trying to create as dense a nugget of info to pass on to others with the CD as I can.

I was amused by a little in-situ metadata that was part of the recording itself, identifying who the main speakers are. The original recording was made by my grandfather’s cousin, Bud or George (I hafta ask my Mom again. I wasn’t there, I don’t know. Have never met either.) It opens with my grandpa telling a story. At the end, the narrator’s voice comes on and says, “That was Bruce B[ family name].” My great uncle, his brother, also told a story. The narrator identified him, too. It’s obvious he made this recording for his side of the family, and identified the speakers on the other side—that would be my side. I, of course recognize the voices that he identified, and am frustrated by ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on July 18, 2007 in • AfterwardsAudioAudio: SoftwareDo it: YourselfLongevity
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History and Journalism, Oral History and Fiction

Frances Dinkelspiel describes a conference she attended, Reconstructing the Past: Where History and Journalism Meet, which took place at Berkeley this past weekend. In some ways, it’s a parallel to the Southwest Oral History Association Annual Meeting Conference I attended in Orange County last weekend (Listening to the Past and Keeping it Alive). Not that attendees at each conference would look at the other like long-lost siblings of common interest. But I do. They both belong on a continuum in my mind.

Dinkelspiel is writing a biography of her great-grandfather, Isaias Hellman, “the Pacific Coast’s leading financier in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and his role in transforming the frontier into a modern state.” It’s a cross where family and personal history meets state history meets journalism (Dinkelspiel is a journalist),

The concluding session at the SOHA event I went to was a presentation by Cynthia Kadohata, a fiction author, who draws upon history to write her books. One book, Weedflower, tells the story of the Japanese American internment camp from the perspective of a 12-year-old girl. Kadohata’s own father went to Poston, AZ, the internment camp that she ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on April 25, 2007 in • AfterwardsBooksHistory
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The Hawaii Nisei Story

The Hawaii Nisei Story is a website that’s a presentation of the oral histories of Americans of Japanese Ancestry. I went to a presentation where Shari Tameshiro, Cybrarian and Webmistress at Kapiolani College, presented the site. The site is a virtual museum exhibit.

There are text transcripts from the interviews, pictures, larger historical context, and video excerpts where you can see the interview.

She showed us the story of Takejiro Higa, born in Hawaii, spent a portion of childhood in Okinawa, then came back to Hawaii when Japan went to war (in order to avoid serving). He then served in the American armed forces doing intelligence. What he went through in his return to Okinawa is amazing.

One day, Takejiro is ordered to report to corps headquarters. There he sees a huge map of the southern half of Okinawa. He freezes as if doused with a bucket of ice water; he realizes the next target is Okinawa.


Then next, he showed me - oh, he asked me, “Where did your grandfather used to live?” So I pointed in the general area of the map. And then he pulled out one big picture ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on April 21, 2007 in • AfterwardsOnline Oral History Collections
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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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Audio in the museum setting

Brad Klein of Acoustiguide is the guest at (a way to get new work into public radio). He discusses making audio tours for museums in a two-part series. In Part 2, he addresses using oral history recordings.

Using oral histories to complement museum exhibitions is a wonderful, and underutilized technique. It was used effectively in the Oakland Museum of California’s, “What’s Going On?—California and the Vietnam Era”, produced in 2004-2005. For that exhibition, Acoustiguide played a consulting role, advising the museum on technical and production considerations. Museum staff then spent a year or so collecting their own tape from Vietnam vets and others, documenting the profound effects of the war on the state of California.

One portion of the exhibition included the fuselage of a period airplane, and you could sit inside and listen to vets like Charles Benninghoff recall their trip home ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on August 28, 2006 in • Afterwards
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Record History, then Podcast (or videoblog) it

[updated] It’s a growing trend to plan to deliver projects as podcasts. From Florida to Scotland: Univeristy of West Florida will podcast history of Pensacola’s black community from interviews conducted with video. From Scotland comes news of a plan to record recollections of classmates of author Dame Muriel Spark, an alum of James Gillespie’s High School. (The school was the basis for Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.) They plan to make the histories available as podcasts.

I’m seeing a trend here in the news stories that show up about oral history projects. First the one from Edinburgh, and then the one from Florida. Both of these are projects in early stages—proposal and interviewing. I suspect that we’ll see more oral history projects that are conceived as having a “deliver it on the web” element to it. (I have a query in to someone associated with the Florida project about their delivery methods. Since it’s being recorded on video, will these be converted to audio for audio podcasts, or videoblogs? I don’t know, I hope to find out.)

More on Florida:

The project brings together Pensacola’s African-American Heritage Society and West Florida Historic ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on August 09, 2006 in • AfterwardsOral history in the news
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Vloggercon session video on Oral History and Digital Storytelling is up

It’s viewable two ways: See it on the web, download the QuickTime file. Interested in other stuff from Vloggercon? Here is the video archive of all the sessions devoted to vlogging, or video blogging.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on July 10, 2006 in • AfterwardsGeneralPersonal History
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Sunday, June 11: Vloggercon in San Francisco: I talk Oral History

Vloggercon, Oral History, Digital Stories and Mother’s Day: I’ve been hard at work creating a digital story from an interview I conducted with my Mother on Mother’s Day. I’ll be showing it tomorrow (Sunday, June 11, 3:15 pm) at the Vloggercon panel on Digital Storytelling and Oral History.

Sessions are streamed live over the web (link to live streams here; my session takes place in the Valhalla room). The video will be available afterwards for viewing, too.

It took all week to create a 3-minute video. Lots of motion graphics; I took a motion graphics class a year ago; I got to put it all to use for this. It’s prolly a bit over-the-top as far as digital storytelling goes, and I’m very pleased with the result. (my boyfriend looked at it and said, “You may intimidate people with it; they’ll look at it and say, “I have to do all that?!” Good point. But I’ve done graphic design for decades…) Will prolly post it online and link to it one of these days once things get back ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on June 10, 2006 in • AfterwardsDo it: Learn HowPersonal History
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Granddad blogging: Oral history project

The Vol Abroad blog posts weekly entries of transcripts from interviewing her Grandpa. Lots from WW2, and Tennessee. I’ve read the first few posts, and Granddad blogging looks to make for one of those great read-it-all-in-one-sitting stops on the web….well, until you catch up to where she is now. New installments every Tuesday.

From Vol Abroad’s introduction to the series:

I have started with the WWII transcripts, because that’s where we started recording, but I will also share other stories, some of which cover aspects of Tennessee history that I have not seen recorded. I had promised my grandfather that I would give the recordings and transcripts to the University of Tennessee, which I haven’t done (yet), but in the meantime, I am publishing them here.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on May 17, 2006 in • AfterwardsOnline Oral History CollectionsTranscription
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From Oral History to Readers’ Theatre

Traverse City, Michigan: The Voices Project presents “What Will Be in the Fields Tomorrow,” a Readers Theatre piece that took shape from oral history interviews for a documentary about small farmers and the challenges they face.

[Cynthia Vagnetti, Agriculatural/Rural Life researcher and Julie Avery, historian] decided that the project had wings beyond the television documentary that Vagnetti original created. They decided to give the piece a “stage presence” in order to let these voices continue their message. What they came up with is a Readers’ Theatre piece that gives a vehicle for the voices of farm women from the mid-west.

“Readers’ Theatre is often used by playwrights to get input into their work before it’s staged,” she said. “But also increasingly Readers’ Theater, as a process, is used a lot with social issues.”

Google search on “What Will Be In The Fields Tomorrow”

...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 09, 2006 in • AfterwardsOral history in the news
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