Oral History Projects in DPH

Like other aspects of digital public humanities, digital technologies have impacted how oral history is done. The use of these technologies allows for oral histories to be more readily available. While this is great, there are still some things left to be considered, such as cost, efficiency, and quality control.

Digital infrastructures can be costly to implement, and transcribing and auditing oral history in and of itself is not cheap. Projects often need to find a cost effective solution that is relatively easy to implement and use. Another aspect to consider is how to annotate oral histories quickly and efficiently. It is time consuming to edit these items. A lot of projects are community based to help counteract this. Using community members helps to allow for more items to be made available however, the digital infrastructure most be able to accommodate this, adding another level of complexity. As community members participate, it is then important to add in measures for quality control to ensure accuracy as well as implementing the use of controlled vocabularies to improve searching.

While developing an infrastructure to accommodate these elements can be difficult to implement and costly, it is possible to do. The Oral History Metadata Synchronizer (OHMS) provides a free, open source, web based oral history system that users are able to perform word searches on and provide time correlated transcripts. They provide video tutorials on how to use the system and are working to have is integrated with other platforms, including: Omeka, Kora, and Drupal.

The articles and project sites for this past module on Oral History, were definitely interesting and helped to open up another realm of digital public history so I haven’t really considered. It would be interesting to try to do an oral history project in the future, however for my current site, I do not plan to add in oral history component.

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