Talking With Scholars - Developing a Research Environment for Oral History Collections


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Presentation at SUEDL 2013 (The 2nd International Workshop on Supporting Users Exploration of Digital Libraries) on September 26th, 2013 in Valetta, Malta.

Slides by Max Kemman and Roeland Ordelman
Paper by Max Kemman, Stef Scagliola, Franciska de Jong and Roeland Ordelman

Oral History Today project partners: Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, Dispectu, Spinque

Published in: Technology, Education
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  • What is Oral History-Audiovisual collections-Interviews of memories at the individual level of historical eventsPicture ‘remember’ from
  • Why should we think about Oral History now?-Within the next 20 years, people who went through major events of the 20th century will be gone-Thanks to digitization, material is manageablePicture Rotterdam bombardment:,_Rotterdam,_Luftaufnahme_von_Br%C3%A4nden.jpg
  • Although many efforts have already been done to create annotations for oral history collectionsBut, so far the uptake of Oral History has been limited, historians still mainly focus on books
  • To make these tools usable for scholars, computer scientists and scholars shouldn’t work independently
  • But instead should collaborate in a continuous feedback to learn what is possible and what is neededHow can we ensure that these audiovisual collections and annotations are usable for scholars?
  • To learn more about how scholars can use audiovisual collections, we research what stages their research have to learn about system requirements for each stageThese stages are:1. Exploration and selectionThis stage focuses on searching for material related to the research of the scholar, in which the scholar wants to acquire an idea of what material is available.2. Exploration and investigationThis stage focuses on selecting and analysing material, in which the scholar wants to view audiovisual material and annotate the material with his or her analyses.3. Result presentationThis stage focuses on presentation of research results, in which the scholar wants to share data (e.g. fragments from interviews) and aforementioned annotations with peers.4. Data curationThis last stage focuses on preserving research output (the data and annotations) for future research and enabling reuse.
  • To describe how the interface could be put to use, we use a persona of an oral historian
  • The landing page allows for exploring by collection or searching directly for terms.A word cloud provides an overview of topics available
  • Sandra searches for migration indonesia, her topic of research, and finds 903 results
  • To gain a better overview of material available, she creates a visualization
  • The word cloud provides an overview of topics available in the search results. She can focus on geboorteplaats (birthplace), tongar, jakarta, ambon, etc. She thus has many possibilities for exploration at her disposal
  • For now, she chooses a single path for exploration. She chooses to select Ambon, which prioritizes the search results with “Ambon” and brings those search results to the top
  • However, she still has 903 search results, she can make this smaller by refining with the facets (on the left)
  • She can also visualize these facets to gain an overview of all search results. She can for example quickly see that most search results are from a single collection
  • She decide to refine the search results by the spatial coverage and chooses Ambon
  • She now has 30 search results left, and a different word cloud which shows topics of moluccans, world war 2, repatriation and civil war
  • She selects the topic civil war to prioritize this topic and rank the search results accordingly
  • She can now view the search results and finds many male perspectives on war and Ambon
  • As she’s also interested in female perspectives, she looks at collections and finds a collections with female interviews. She refines the search results to only show these female and sees two interviews she can watch immediately
  • She can watch the interview
  • And see more metadata about the topics. Moreover, there is a word cloud on the interview-level giving an overview of what the interview is about. For interviews with speech-recognition, this word cloud also shows topics extracted through speech recognition
  • She can find links to other collections by looking at the summaries of related interviews
  • Interesting bits and pieces from the interview can be bookmarked and annotated, she saves this in her workspace
  • Where needed, she can directly jump to the original archive where the interview is preserved
  • Having bookmarked the interesting bits, she can now look at the other search results
  • As she has little time left for now, she can bookmark search results and annotate these for later analysis
  • When the interview is not available within the OHT search interface, a link it provided to the original archive where the interview is preserved
  • Her bookmarks are kept in separate workspaces, allowing multiple projects
  • This workspace on Ambon women shows several fragments and interviews. She can publish this workspace to share it with peers or provide it together with a publication
  • When she returns to the OHT interface later, she can retrieve her query history, so she can continue where she was left
  • Talking With Scholars - Developing a Research Environment for Oral History Collections

    1. 1. Talking With Scholars Developing a Research Environment for Oral History Collections Max Kemman Erasmus University Rotterdam @MaxJ_K
    2. 2. Oral History Understanding historical events at the individual level SUEDL workshop - 26-09-2013
    3. 3. Why Oral History now? SUEDL workshop - 26-09-2013
    4. 4. Uptake of Oral History SUEDL workshop - 26-09-2013
    5. 5. Usable? SUEDL workshop - 26-09-2013
    6. 6. Continuous feedback What is possible? What do you need? SUEDL workshop - 26-09-2013
    7. 7. Four stages of research 1. Exploration & selection 2. Exploration & investigation 3. Result presentation 4. Data curation SUEDL workshop - 26-09-2013
    8. 8. Highlights Collections, keywords, search SUEDL workshop - 26-09-2013
    9. 9. Refine SUEDL workshop - 26-09-2013 Refining search results with facets such as • Spatial & temporal • Media type • Access • Metadata type
    10. 10. Visual facets SUEDL workshop - 26-09-2013
    11. 11. Finding connections SUEDL workshop - 26-09-2013
    12. 12. Bookmarking SUEDL workshop - 26-09-2013
    13. 13. Bookmarking fragments SUEDL workshop - 26-09-2013
    14. 14. Sharing SUEDL workshop - 26-09-2013
    15. 15. Evaluation • User requirements from 15 scholars • Evaluation in multiple cycles with 5 scholars SUEDL workshop - 26-09-2013
    16. 16. Demonstration - Persona • Female historian • 47 years old • Indonesia, migration, war & conflict • Not very knowledgeable of Oral History collections SUEDL workshop - 26-09-2013
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