Oral history slides
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This afternoon I am going to try and answer this question, What can social media do for oral history. I am going to look at a few examples which caught my attention and talk about what we can learn ...
This afternoon I am going to try and answer this question, What can social media do for oral history. I am going to look at a few examples which caught my attention and talk about what we can learn from these projects.
But first I want to start my talk today with a little history of my own. This picture is of a 1973 8-track reel-to-reel tape recorder which has spent the last thirty years in my parents’ attic.
It was discarded in a skip at the bank which my father worked at towards the end of the seventies and he took it home, fixed it and used it to record this, me and my sister singing nursery rhymes.
Fast-forward thirty-something years and while this 8-track tape recorder has gathered dust in my parents’ attic, technology has, of course, moved on.
Today, my eight-track tape recorder is my iPhone. This travels with me and I can record my children’s lives and share these experiences with my wider family through email, photo messages and social networks.
The sound quality that my iPhone gives me may not be much better than the soundtrack of my childhood, but this ability to share the experience so easily is revolutionary.
A few years ago, this kind of sharing may have seemed like the preserve of the geeky few, but sharing your activities, opinions and your creativity on social media is now the norm - there has been a socio-cultural shift where it has become acceptable, almost expected, that you will share intimate details of your life in a way which would have seemed incredibly narcissistic just a few years ago.
While technology can enhance oral history, it can’t change the essential appeal of good story. The first project I want to talk about today is all about good stories. Over 30,000 have been recorded by StoryCorps since it was founded by radio producer Dave Isay in 2003.
Its mission is to record, preserve, and share the stories of Americans from all backgrounds and beliefs.
They started in October 23rd, 2003 with a StoryBooth in Grand Central Station in New York City, a sound proof booth where people could go to record their 40 minute interviews.
StoryCorps interviews take the form of a conversation between two people who know each other. They can be friends, family, or just acquaintances, though someone from StoryCorps is at hand to give advice on how to get the most out of a session.
Once an interview has taken place, the participants receive a CD of their interview and, with their permission, a second copy of each interview is archived at the American Folk Life Centre and the Library of Congress for future generations to hear.
The stories also appear on the StoryCorps website, tagged and categorised to make them easier to search. As well as allowing people to listen to the stories, visitors to the website are also encouraged to share the stories through social networks.
A quick search of social media websites finds that people are taking the time to link to the stories, virally spreading the word about StoryCorps and sharing personal favorites.
I want to take a minute now to show you an animation from Storycorp.
Wasn’t that great! So that animation is one of a series created by StoryCorp based on recording which were made by members of the public. I really love this animation, I think that it will take these oral histories to a completely different audience.
One of the really nice things about these animations is that you can embed them in your own website, blog or facebook page, taking this Storycorp content and sharing it with your own networks.
The way in which the StoryCorps stories have been recorded was quite traditional and could have been done in a similar way thirty years ago but the way in which the content they are capturing is then distributed by members of the public who choose the share these recordings virally through their own networks, is very new.
Earlier this year, StoryCorps launched an iPhone application featuring stories which have been recorded by the
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