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Trends in Metadata Practices

With the increasing focus on interoperability for distributed digital content, resource developers need to take into consideration how they will contribute to large federated collections, potentially at the national and international level. At the same time, their primary objectives are usually to meet the needs of their own institutions and user communities. This tension between local practices and needs and the more global potential of digital collections has been an object of study for the IMLS Digital Collections and Content (IMLS DCC) project. Our practical aim has been to provide integrated access to over 160 IMLS-funded digital collections through a centralized collection registry and metadata repository. During the course of development, the research team has investigated how collections and items can best be represented to meet the needs of local resource developers and aggregators of distributed content, as well as the diverse user communities they may serve. This paper presents results from a longitudinal analysis of IMLS DCC development trends between 2003 and 2006. Changes in metadata applications have not been pronounced. However, multi-scheme use has become less common, and use of Dublin Core remains high, even as recognition of its limitations grows.

Evaluating the contributions of video representation for a life oral history collection

A digital video library of over 900 hours of video and 18000 stories from The HistoryMakers is used to investigate the role of motion video for users of recorded life oral histories. Stories in the library are presented in one of two ways in two within subjects experiments: either as audio accompanied by a single still photographic image per story, or as the same audio within a motion video of the interviewee speaking. Twenty-four participants given a treasure-hunt fact-finding task, i.e., very directed search, showed no significant preference for either the still or video treatment, and no difference in task performance. Fourteen participants in a second study worked on an exploratory task in the same within-subjects experimental framework, and showed a significant preference for video. For exploratory work, video has a positive effect on user satisfaction. Implications for use of video in collecting and accessing recorded life oral histories, in student assignments and more generally, are discussed, along with reflections on long term user studies to complement the ones presented here.

Supporting Access to Large Digital Oral History Archives

This paper describes our experience with the creation, indexing, and provision of access to a very large archive of videotaped oral histories − 116,000 hours of digitized interviews in 32 languages from 52,000 survivors, liberators, rescuers, and witnesses of the Nazi Holocaust. It goes on to identify a set of critical research issues that must be addressed if we are to provide full and detailed access to collections of this size: issues in user requirement studies, automatic speech recognition, automatic classification, segmentation, summarization, retrieval, and user interfaces. The paper ends by inviting others to discuss use of these materials in their own research.

Concept Maps to Support Oral History Search and Use

In this paper we describe a novel technique to support information seeking in oral history archives using concept maps. We conducted a pilot study with teachers engaged in work tasks using a prototype concept mapping tool. Results suggest that concept maps can help searchers, especially when tasks are complex.

Access to Recorded Interviews A Research Agenda

Recorded interviews form a rich basis for scholarly inquiry. Examples include oral histories, community memory projects, and interviews conducted for broadcast media. Emerging technologies offer the potential to radically transform the way in which recorded interviews are made accessible, but this vision will demand substantial investments from a broad range of research communities. This article reviews the present state of practice for making recorded interviews available and the state-of-the-art for key component technologies. A large number of important research issues are identified, and from that set of issues, a coherent research agenda is proposed.

Improving Text Classification for Oral History Archives with Temporal Domain Knowledge

This paper describes two new techniques for increasing the accuracy of topic label assignment to conversational speech from oral history interviews using supervised machine learning in conjunction with automatic speech recognition. The first, time-shifted classification, leverages local sequence information from the order in which the story is told. The second, temporal label weighting, takes the complementary perspective by using the position within an interview to bias label assignment probabilities. These methods, when used in combination, yield between 6% and 15% relative improvements in classification accuracy using a clipped R-precision measure that models the utility of label sets as segment summaries in interactive speech retrieval applications.

Facilitating access to large digital oral history archives through informedia technologies

This paper discusses the application of speech alignment, image processing, and language understanding technologies to build efficient interfaces into large digital oral history archives, as exemplified by a thousand hour HistoryMakers corpus. Browsing, querying, and navigation features are discussed.

Books with Voices

Our contextual inquiry into the practices of oral historians unearthed a curious incongruity. While oral historians consider interview recordings a central historical artifact, these recordings sit unused after a written transcript is produced. We hypothesized that this is largely because books are more usable than recordings. Therefore, we created Books with Voices: bar-code augmented paper transcripts enabling fast, random access to digital video interviews on a PDA. We present quantitative results of an evaluation of this tangible interface with 13 participants. They found this lightweight, structured access to original recordings to offer substantial benefits with minimal overhead. Oral historians found a level of emotion in the video not available in the printed transcript. The video also helped readers clarify the text and observe nonverbal cues.

Best Practices