Judith Moyer’s step by step guide to doing Oral History

Step-by-Step Guide to Oral History. She begins with the best word of advice there is: Just Do It, and follows with lots of practicalities.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on December 20, 2005 in • Do it: YourselfLinks
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Podcasting our personal history together

Podcasting our personal history together: “How does podcasting fit into the oral history picture?” Kevin Lim at the Educational Technology Center at Buffalo muses on the intersection of podcasting and oral history.

He’s seen the StoryCorps booth at Grand Central Station and he’s been helping some professors put together a web site for their oral history, and it’s got him thinking about ways to incorporate podcasting and oral history.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on December 19, 2005 in • Do it: YourselfLinks
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Rest in Peace, CDs

SFGate.com: R.I.P. CDs Consider the alternatives to compact discs: iPods, satellite radio and hours of free or cheap digital music to download legally. Begone, bright discs and pesky cases! Begone!

Does this mark the beginning of the end of Red Book Audio CD? How will this affect make-it-yourself recordings of your family stories, your oral history?

This article points out that CDs are on their way out. The article lists 10 reasons (new music sources, how good old hissy-tapes of rock n roll sound compared to clean sound, Satellite Radio, online music, etc.) why CDs are on the way out.

I don’t care as much about the “let the market decide how I get my music” aspect as I do about the potential for longevity of CD Audio, the format. It began in the early 1980s (I remember getting my first CD player in 1985), so it’s had a good 30 years to get established. Hm. I’d thought that with the pace of change, that 30 years’ longevity beats out the “digital last forever or 5 years, whichever comes first” rule. What I want to know is whether ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on November 30, 2005 in • DigitalityLongevity
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Oral History at school: Learning by doing: talking, listening

Arizona Republic: Prescott, AZ, area 8th graders are learning history by learning to do oral history.

Edward Berger, state coordinator for the Arizona Heritage Project at Sharlot Hall Museum, is working with eighth-grade students at Mingus Springs, teaching them how to interview people and record their stories.

...“We work with teachers who understand that kids need to be in the community, recording the histories of important people,” Berger said.

The purpose of teaching the kids how to interview significant people in the community is to have them create oral history projects to display in their schools, Berger said.

Also, Berger hopes to get the students’ projects to appear in museums in the state and possibly in the American Life Folk Center in the Library of Congress, which ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on November 28, 2005 in • Oral history in the news
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M-Audio Microtrack 24/96 digital recorder

A new (and promising) digital recorder has arrived. (MSRP: $499.95; Street: $399) Compact, boy howdy, is it compact! 4.3 x 2.4 x 1.1 inches (11 x 6.1 x 2.8cm) With bells and whistles. Uses Flash memory, records uncompressed WAV files.

Connects to computer using USB. Comes with T-shaped small stereo electret microphones, connection stuff, earbuds. It’s mighty tempting. I was debating between the Edirol R-1 and the Marantz PMD 660 for my four-hundred-dolla’ audio flash memory splurge. But this lil’ baby is competition.

It’s got all kinds of connections for input:  stereo mini-plug, two 1/4” jacks (balanced) with mic/line switch (I like it!), and, if you want to, SPDIF for digital recording

I hope to try it out for a test drive. The offices of M-Audiohappen to be the next city away from over. 

The rumors on this puppy are nice.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on November 14, 2005 in • AudioAudio: Hardware
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Dakota Memories Oral History Project

North Dakota State University Oral History Project. Germans from Russia. Nice in that there are documents like scope and permissions form all for the viewing from the web site.

Lots of cool stuff found in the pop-up menus on the site, including the Inteview Topic Checklist (which is a nifty intake form, thanks to that handy-dandy world wide web!) The items that’re are what we’ll be talking about, please check off additionally listed topics you’d feel comfortable and/or interested in discussing) and biography form. It’s a good resource to think about your interviews and prep.

Of course, since it’s for a university-related project, there is a release form. Because this is going to become a resource used by scholars in perpetuity, as curated by the university. So the interviewee (narrator) says, Yes, you have my permission to make use of the interview. But an ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on November 09, 2005 in • InterviewingOral History Projects
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Unknown history, invented history

An 11-year-old named Clara wants to learn more about her own past. Her mother isn’t forthcoming, so she visits an elderly man in town, under the guise of a school oral history project. South Carolina’s The State discusses Shadow Baby, a novel by Alison McGhee.

No, I haven’t read the book. Just saw a mention. I’m intrigued by a story where the process of doing oral history is part of the plot of a novel. A girl seeks answers to questions she has about her life. This resonates because it’s the reason I stumbled onto oral history in my family. To explore the question, “What happened?” But probably ultimately to explore the question, “Who am I?”

Here’s a bit about how Clara, the protagonist of Shadow Baby, describes it:

“We started out as interviewer and interviewee, but that changed,” Clara says. “There were things the old man and I knew about each other. After a while, I just visited him, compadre to compadre.

“I used to write down his ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on November 01, 2005 in • General
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Rarities Online

Library Journal: Digitizing special collections and putting them online, a process that marks a golden age for libraries. No longer are collections limited by physical access available only to a few.

Indeed, digitization, high-speed connections, and suites of powerful new tools that allow students and researchers to interact as never before with collections are breaking them free from their climate-controlled exile and putting valuable special collections at the center of exciting new partnerships among librarians, faculty, students, and technicians. It’s still early—but already the results are remarkable.

At Columbia, initiatives like the Columbia University Libraries Digital Program bring together librarians, faculty, and technicians to create cutting-edge digital representations and research tools.

With opportunities and benefits, the challenges remain: acquisition ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on in • DigitalityOnline Oral History Collections
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Microtrack 24/96 Review

Andrew DeVigal at Interactive Narratives writes a review of the new-ish M-Audio MicroTrack 24/96. Brief upshot: “Though I haven’t used it rigorously yet, I have to say that I’m quite impressed and happy with the purchase.”

It’s about one-fourth the size of the PMD 660. Takes longer to boot up. But the size is sweet, according to Andrew DeVigal.

The size was the reason I waited for this unit. And I’m glad I did. It’s about the same dimension as my iPod but thicker. So it’s easy to handle. And the menu button as well as the scroll wheel (that’s what they call it but it feels more like a rocker) on the opposite side makes navigating through the files and settings easily accessible with a single (right) hand.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on October 20, 2005 in • AudioAudio: Hardware
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Twins talk in the StoryCorps booth

Recordnet, California’s Central Valley paper, profiles Stockton twins (currently in Seattle) as they swapped stories about their father in the StoryCorps booth.

In a 40-minute session in StoryCorps’ MobileBooth, a recording studio constructed inside a silver Airstream trailer, the Canote twins, 54, swapped tales of their father, Bob Canote, who died last year at 81 in Saratoga. The oldest of five children, Bob became a banker after he completed his World War II service in Italy.

A profile of local people and a discussion of the StoryCorps project (which, thus far, hasn’t been getting much coverage on this site, though I’ve been following it quite closely. And wondering when and if they’re going to come to the L.A. area. The West Coast tour stops in San Francisco, and that bums me out.

Here’s their how-to for doing it yourself:

If you want ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on in • InterviewingOral history in the newsOral History Projects
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A new way to stop digital decay

The Economist’s Technology Quarterly on a virtual computer that can “read” all previous media and software formats, preserving dgital media into the future.

“Digital media lasts forever, or five years, whichever comes first.” Here’s an example of how a wonderful digital preservation project ran into that 5-year wall:

In 1986, for example, 900 years after the Domesday book, the BBC launched a project to compile data about Britain, including maps, video and text. The results were recorded on laserdiscs that could only be read by a special system based around a BBC Micro home computer. But since the disks were unreadable on any other system, this pioneering example of multimedia was nearly lost for ever. It took two and a half years of patient work with one of the few surviving machines to move the data on to a modern PC (it can be seen ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on October 12, 2005 in • DigitalityLongevity
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USB microphone

The Samson C01U USB Studio Condenser Mic is the first affordable studio condenser mic with a USB interface. $39

Blurbage from the Samsontech website describes it thus:

The C01U USB Studio Condenser Mic is the first affordable studio condenser mic with a USB interface.

For the first time ever, musicians who record music on computers have a simple, affordable way to capture high-quality vocal and acoustic instrument performances.

Seamless integration was the idea, and it was obtained by creating a studio condenser microphone that can be plugged into any computer with no in/out boxes, no expensive computer pre-amps, just a USB cable.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on October 07, 2005 in • AudioAudio: Hardware
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So Long, Minidisc?

Engadget highlights a Minidisc discussion forum thread that speculates on the future of the MD format, based on Sony’s corporate doings (or un-doings, or corporate restructures)

Is it finally the end of the road for the oft-maligned MiniDisc? It certainly seems that way, judging from the recent activity at the MiniDisc Community Forums. Though not exactly a hotbed of anti-MiniDisc activity, one member points out that at Sony’s recent corporate strategy meeting there was no mention of the format, and it was also a no-show in the company’s annual report, other than as an example of a dying format.

If MiniDisc is going to be abandoned, it’s sad. 15 years is the lifetime of the product cycle, according to the post that kicks of the speculation on the MiniDisc Community Forum thread. The small size and convenience and sound quality for field recordings has so ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on October 05, 2005 in • AudioAudio: HardwareDigitality
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CalTech’s Oral History collection

The L.A. Times profiles the oral history collection at the California Institute of Technology.

Scientists, legends, nobel laureates are part of the oral history collection at the Pasadena, California Institute. Visit the online home for Caltech Archives Oral Histories Online.

Ever heard the story about Albert Einstein and the Long Beach earthquake of 1933?

Einstein, a visiting professor at Caltech at the time, was walking across campus with an earthquake expert, Beno Gutenberg. They even were talking about seismic research. But when the magnitude-6.4 temblor struck, the absent-minded scientists were so engrossed in conversation that neither noticed the shaking.

“There was an earthquake someplace?” Gutenberg, a partner with Charles Richter in developing the Richter scale, ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on September 21, 2005 in • Online Oral History CollectionsOral history in the newsOral History Projects
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Review of Marantz PMD660

At Akustyk (acoustic, get it?), a site for linguists, a review of the Marantz PMD 660. The review is geared toward linguists, but since they’re talking about quality of spoken word recordings, it’s a good one to pay attention to.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on September 15, 2005 in • AudioAudio: Hardware
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