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Digital options: an assessment of audience
engagement with a digitised archive set
transformed from online text and images to audio
format
Dr Bruce Ryan b.ryan@napier.ac.uk @Bruce_Research
Professor Hazel Hall h.hall@napier.ac.uk @hazelh
Dr Iain McGregor i.mcgregor@napier.ac.uk
Paper presented at ARA Conference, Chester, 2nd September 2022 #ARA2022
http://hazelhall.org
Information sharing online
Early career: intranets (1990s)
Late career: archives (2019-)
Key questions addressed in this paper
 How do people engage with an archive digitised as a
non-fiction podcast series ‘performance’?
 How is this comparable with engagement with the
same core archive previously presented as online text
and images?
 [Is it worth the effort of deploying the podcast format
for presenting archive material per se?]
THE ARCHIVE
Lorna Lloyd
• Cambridge ‘graduate’
• School mistress
• 25 year old resident of
Malvern, Worcestershire in
1939
Albert (Bertie)
b1882
Emily (Topsie)
b1876
Theodore (Theo)
b1912
Lorna
b1914
Gillian
b1941-
Jonathan
b1945-
Lorna’s niece and nephew
DIGITISING THE ARCHIVE: PART 1
‘Secret recreational project’
31st August 2019 to 11th January 2021
Friday June 14th
Paris has fallen*. M Reynaud’s desperate
appeal to America has received no
answer – except that Roosevelt says “it
has not reached him officially”!
‘I do enjoy Lorna’s commentaries. The
history books seldom give any such insights.’
Daily blips from 9th November 2019 onwards
Ephemera about/by the wider
family
 Reports of family activities
 Creative outputs by family
members e.g. poems, stories, art
 Press cuttings and photographs
 Souvenirs of trips and events
 School reports
 Letters
The digitised archive set as online text and images on
Blipfoto:
1. Lorna’s chronicle of World War II (main plot)
2. Story of discovery of family history through interrogating
ephemera posted to the journal (sub-plot)
3. Other outputs created by Lorna (mainly) and family
4. Photography
5. Blipper comments on the material posted
DIGITISING THE ARCHIVE: PART 2
Funded research project
2nd February 2022 to 31st July 2022
5 formats of the archive
1. Hand-written in exercise book
2. Word-processed (single file)
3. Blipped (single entries)
4. Downloaded from Blipfoto
(single file)
5. Word-processed as script
(single file)
Katherine
Stephen
Announcer
Richard
Godden
Newsreader
Bethany
Ray
Lorna Lloyd
David
Monteath
Theo Lloyd
Gillian b1941-
Lorna’s niece
Theo b1912
Samantha b1965-
Bethany b1997-
Lorna’s great niece
Lorna’s great-great
niece (aged 25)
Lorna’s brother
3rd year student team
supervised by Iain McGregor:
Andras Peter, James
McLachlan, Alex Gencs,
Michael Suttie*, David Graham
Sound Design (4); Software
Engineering (1*)
Saturday September 9 1939
‘Evacuees arrive in Malvern’
https://rss.com/podcasts/lornalloyd/
The digitised archive set as a podcast series:
1. Lorna’s chronicle of World War II
2. Contemporaneous news: BBC radio clips and scripts,
newspaper clippings
3. Framing of each episode
4. Writing by Theo
5. Theme tune
6. 4 bonus episodes of poetry
NO: annotations, stories,
plays, art, photographs,
unfolding family history,
blipper comments
Content Blipfoto Podcast
Lorna’s commentary on living through the war x x
Local news on the war x
Regional news on the war x
National news on the war: print news x
Poetry by Lorna x limited
Samples of other writing by Lorna x
Samples of Lorna’s artwork x
Outputs by other family members x limited
Family photographs x
Emerging story of family history x
Audience comments x
Music enjoyed by Lorna x
Only the war diary entry content is identical
in both formats of the digitised archive
ENGAGEMENT WITH THE ARCHIVE AS
‘PERFORMANCE’
Empirical study
April to July 2022
https://www.blipfoto.com/hazelh 10th January 2021
‘The circumstances are entirely different, but the
one thing in common between Lorna’s times and
our current situation is the uncertainty and how
we deal with it as a collective group.’
Data collection in 2022
1. March: discussions within project team; 3 scoping
interviews
2. April-May: 9 ‘before’ interviews
3. June: 9 ‘after’ interviews
Enthusiastic reception of the podcast series
 ‘It’s been a tremendous translation into audio’ (Frankie)
Entertainment value of podcast series
 ‘[It is] very entertaining because [of] the dimension of the
audio… and the different voices, and the different
sources coming together’ (Rowan)
 Praise for actors in conveying humour, intrigue, and
drama
Production quality of the podcast series
 ‘The students have done a great job’ (Pat)
 ‘When she spoke in French because she was disguising
the fact that she was slagging off an aunt… that was
nicely handled on the tape (I show my age!)… The
translation came in… [like] the kind of thing you would
hear on Radio 4’ (Frankie)
The podcast series as ‘story’
 ’[It’s] curated, edited and made into a cohesive story...
The Blipfoto [version] didn’t get such continuity’ (Chris)
Flexible interactions with podcast episodes
 Options for immersion
o You can walk/cook/garden while listening (Pat)
 Options for consumption
o ‘Wow, you can have the whole thing in one hit?! …
Being able to listen to it [all in one go is] a bit like
starting a really good book. You could keep going’
(Sandy)
 Accessibility (Frankie)
Authenticity of podcast series (1): content and sound
design
 ‘The information that came from the readings,
particularly the local ones, were very, very interesting… I
think that you could put more in’ (Sandy)
 ‘The sound design made it sound like you were sitting
next to a 1940s radio’ (Kim)
Authenticity of podcast series (2): voices and accents
 ‘It’s the voices that made it real for me’ (Rowan)
 ‘Bethany was using [a 1930s accent] but not overdoing
it… It was just right in making you think “This is someone
from that time talking about their life”, rather than “[This
is] someone from now talking about somebody who lived
[during the war]”’ (Nicky)
Authenticity of podcast series (3): versatility of
Bethany Ray’s acting
 ’She’s got several voices.. young woman, the very
indignant young woman… the creative person… and the
very educated one’ (Frankie)
 ‘Anger or dismay or distrust in Lorna’s voice [was]
actually much better than you could demonstrate… on a
written page’ (Kim)
Authenticity of podcast series (4): Bethany Ray’s
family connection to Lorna, and her age
 ‘Neat’, ‘Nice thing’ (Rowan); ‘Interesting’ (Alex); ‘Quite
special’ (Sandy)
 ‘It was really important that [Bethany] was a similar age
[to Lorna] giving the dramatisation authenticity and
immediacy… It’s an absolute bonus that [Bethany] is a
member of Lorna’s family and there is that connection’
(Chris)
Authenticity of podcast series (5): Bethany Ray as/is
Lorna
 ‘You could almost, genuinely, hear Lorna’ (Sandy)
 ‘It could have so easily been Lorna speaking’ (Chris)
 ‘It just came over as if [Lorna] was talking to you’
(Frankie)
 ‘I actually felt… as if I was listening to Lorna’ (Sam)
 ‘It’s [all] absolutely true as far as I am concerned’ (Kim)
Authenticity: the podcast series versus the Blipfoto
journal
 Although the interviewees spoke more about markers of
authenticity in the podcast series, more of those who
expressed a firm opinion (4 of 7) found the Blipfoto
journal more authentic
Authenticity of Blipfoto format: images of source
material, references, ‘editorial’ commentary
 ‘Being able to see the photo of the diary [entries], and to
know that it was an exact transcript, and to have the
extra references… and to know people are doing extra
research around it’ (Alex)
Some interviewees missed the elements not
‘translated’ across from Blipfoto to the podcast series
 ‘You don’t get quite a rounded picture’ (Frankie)
 ‘There’s more explanation on the blip site… If I was
listening to the podcasts without having read the blip [I
would be] wondering “Who’s Theo? You keep talking
about Theo”!’ (Alex)
Value of comments and cross-referencing on Blipfoto
 ‘I know [the comments] were short and largely just
enthusing, but I missed the sense of the [other] readers’
(Frankie)
 ‘I found it really interesting when [Lorna wrote reflectively
about earlier diary entries] and [would] say ”What I said
then was rubbish”… You can’t go back and listen to the
podcasts so easily, whereas you can go back and read
that blip’ (Alex)
Strongest messages on the presentation of the
digitised archive as a podcast series
1. It generates a sense of vitality: ‘Listening does make it
much more vivid’ (Nicky)
2. It enhances learning: observing the war in a ‘real
timeline’ (Rowan)
3. It prompts emotional responses: ‘It was really moving’
(Frankie)
Vitality of the podcast series
 ‘When you are reading on screen, you’re reading it in
your own voice. You’re not really getting a feeling for
how exactly things were said… I found it much more
helpful to have the different voices so that I could relate
to it a bit more’ (Sam)
 ‘The BBC archive material really brought it to life as well.
It just made it so present’ (Frankie)
Enhanced learning from the podcast series
 About Lorna’s times: ‘She’s saying “Oh today… they
announced the war”… and then… the Prime Minister
announcing the war [comes next]’ (Pat)
 About the war: from news items (Nicky, Sam) that lend
breadth (Rowan) and immediacy (Chris), and prompt
further research (Frankie)
 Convenience: ‘I probably learnt more from the podcast
because it was all there’ (Sam)
The stronger emotional impact of the podcast series is
due to the ‘uninterrupted’ format, and lead actor
connections
 ‘There was a bigger emotional connection [to the entries
than] when they were interspersed with other things’
(Chris)
 ‘[Bethany Ray as Lorna] adds to [the podcast series] a
little bit in terms of emotional impact [because] she is
reading the words of her relation’ (Pat)
The podcast series has emotional impact even when
listeners are already familiar with the content
 ‘It was quite a shock when the diary ended, and the next
thing was the letter from Theo… There didn’t seem to be
any warning of that. It came as a bit of a shock even
though I’d actually [already] read it in all the blip stuff… It
had the desired effect… “Oh no!”’ (Rowan)
Emotional impact of podcast comes from
contemporary parallels
 ‘The parallels in Blipfoto were with COVID, and now it’s
further parallels with the war. It’s been a demanding
experience emotionally’ (Frankie)
Emotional impact of the podcast series and Ukraine
 ‘Ukraine makes me emotional. It made me think afresh
about [the invasion] when I listened to the podcast’ (Pat)
 [It’s] so much harder… because we are in a similar
situation… If you changed the words slightly it could [be]
contemporary... If we made Germany Russia, and made
Finland Ukraine’ (Nicky)
Ukraine and history repeating itself
 ‘This is all just happening again’ (Frankie)
 ‘We are dealing with [accommodating displaced people]
today’ (Nicky)
 ‘I was thinking about some of the things that she was
saying about Hitler… and drawing parallels with Putin’s
behaviour... how the Ukrainians must be feeling’ (Sam)
ENGAGEMENT WITH THE ARCHIVE AS
‘PERFORMANCE’
Main initial conclusions from the empirical study
Facets of engagement with an archive digitised in
audio format as a podcast series
 Audience members are entertained listening to high
quality audio files of a cohesive and vivid performance of
an authentic, real-life, story that is supported by
contemporaneous news material
 This performance prompts strong emotional responses
to the archive material, and encourages learning
Is it worth the effort to present an archived data set as
a podcast series?
 You need many resources
 It takes much longer than you could ever imagine to
create a professional output
 We’re proud of our achievement – but would we do it
again if we understood in advance the effort required?
For further information and resources
• Listen to the podcast series:
https://rss.com/podcasts/lornalloyd/
• Read the LornaL Blipfoto journal at
http://blipfoto.com/lornal
• Read the LornaLPodcast Blipfoto journal at
http://blipfoto.com/lornalpodcast
• See the Malvern Museum web pages at
https://malvernmuseum.co.uk/lorna-lloyds-
diary-of-the-war/
• Pick up a copy of the poetry booklet
• Contact Hazel Hall at h.hall@napier.ac.uk,
@hazelh, http://hazelhall.org
Digital options: an assessment of audience
engagement with a digitised archive set
transformed from online text and images to audio
format
Dr Bruce Ryan b.ryan@napier.ac.uk @Bruce_Research
Professor Hazel Hall h.hall@napier.ac.uk @hazelh
Dr Iain McGregor i.mcgregor@napier.ac.uk
Paper presented at ARA Conference, Chester, 2nd September 2022

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Digital options: an assessment of audience engagement with a digitised set of archives transformed from online text and images to audio format

  • 1. Digital options: an assessment of audience engagement with a digitised archive set transformed from online text and images to audio format Dr Bruce Ryan b.ryan@napier.ac.uk @Bruce_Research Professor Hazel Hall h.hall@napier.ac.uk @hazelh Dr Iain McGregor i.mcgregor@napier.ac.uk Paper presented at ARA Conference, Chester, 2nd September 2022 #ARA2022
  • 2. http://hazelhall.org Information sharing online Early career: intranets (1990s) Late career: archives (2019-)
  • 3. Key questions addressed in this paper  How do people engage with an archive digitised as a non-fiction podcast series ‘performance’?  How is this comparable with engagement with the same core archive previously presented as online text and images?  [Is it worth the effort of deploying the podcast format for presenting archive material per se?]
  • 5.
  • 6. Lorna Lloyd • Cambridge ‘graduate’ • School mistress • 25 year old resident of Malvern, Worcestershire in 1939
  • 7. Albert (Bertie) b1882 Emily (Topsie) b1876 Theodore (Theo) b1912 Lorna b1914 Gillian b1941- Jonathan b1945- Lorna’s niece and nephew
  • 8. DIGITISING THE ARCHIVE: PART 1 ‘Secret recreational project’ 31st August 2019 to 11th January 2021
  • 9.
  • 10. Friday June 14th Paris has fallen*. M Reynaud’s desperate appeal to America has received no answer – except that Roosevelt says “it has not reached him officially”!
  • 11. ‘I do enjoy Lorna’s commentaries. The history books seldom give any such insights.’
  • 12. Daily blips from 9th November 2019 onwards
  • 13.
  • 14.
  • 15. Ephemera about/by the wider family  Reports of family activities  Creative outputs by family members e.g. poems, stories, art  Press cuttings and photographs  Souvenirs of trips and events  School reports  Letters
  • 16.
  • 17. The digitised archive set as online text and images on Blipfoto: 1. Lorna’s chronicle of World War II (main plot) 2. Story of discovery of family history through interrogating ephemera posted to the journal (sub-plot) 3. Other outputs created by Lorna (mainly) and family 4. Photography 5. Blipper comments on the material posted
  • 18. DIGITISING THE ARCHIVE: PART 2 Funded research project 2nd February 2022 to 31st July 2022
  • 19.
  • 20.
  • 21. 5 formats of the archive 1. Hand-written in exercise book 2. Word-processed (single file) 3. Blipped (single entries) 4. Downloaded from Blipfoto (single file) 5. Word-processed as script (single file)
  • 23. Gillian b1941- Lorna’s niece Theo b1912 Samantha b1965- Bethany b1997- Lorna’s great niece Lorna’s great-great niece (aged 25) Lorna’s brother
  • 24. 3rd year student team supervised by Iain McGregor: Andras Peter, James McLachlan, Alex Gencs, Michael Suttie*, David Graham Sound Design (4); Software Engineering (1*)
  • 25.
  • 26. Saturday September 9 1939 ‘Evacuees arrive in Malvern’
  • 27.
  • 29. The digitised archive set as a podcast series: 1. Lorna’s chronicle of World War II 2. Contemporaneous news: BBC radio clips and scripts, newspaper clippings 3. Framing of each episode 4. Writing by Theo 5. Theme tune 6. 4 bonus episodes of poetry NO: annotations, stories, plays, art, photographs, unfolding family history, blipper comments
  • 30. Content Blipfoto Podcast Lorna’s commentary on living through the war x x Local news on the war x Regional news on the war x National news on the war: print news x Poetry by Lorna x limited Samples of other writing by Lorna x Samples of Lorna’s artwork x Outputs by other family members x limited Family photographs x Emerging story of family history x Audience comments x Music enjoyed by Lorna x Only the war diary entry content is identical in both formats of the digitised archive
  • 31. ENGAGEMENT WITH THE ARCHIVE AS ‘PERFORMANCE’ Empirical study April to July 2022
  • 32. https://www.blipfoto.com/hazelh 10th January 2021 ‘The circumstances are entirely different, but the one thing in common between Lorna’s times and our current situation is the uncertainty and how we deal with it as a collective group.’
  • 33. Data collection in 2022 1. March: discussions within project team; 3 scoping interviews 2. April-May: 9 ‘before’ interviews 3. June: 9 ‘after’ interviews
  • 34. Enthusiastic reception of the podcast series  ‘It’s been a tremendous translation into audio’ (Frankie) Entertainment value of podcast series  ‘[It is] very entertaining because [of] the dimension of the audio… and the different voices, and the different sources coming together’ (Rowan)  Praise for actors in conveying humour, intrigue, and drama
  • 35. Production quality of the podcast series  ‘The students have done a great job’ (Pat)  ‘When she spoke in French because she was disguising the fact that she was slagging off an aunt… that was nicely handled on the tape (I show my age!)… The translation came in… [like] the kind of thing you would hear on Radio 4’ (Frankie)
  • 36. The podcast series as ‘story’  ’[It’s] curated, edited and made into a cohesive story... The Blipfoto [version] didn’t get such continuity’ (Chris)
  • 37. Flexible interactions with podcast episodes  Options for immersion o You can walk/cook/garden while listening (Pat)  Options for consumption o ‘Wow, you can have the whole thing in one hit?! … Being able to listen to it [all in one go is] a bit like starting a really good book. You could keep going’ (Sandy)  Accessibility (Frankie)
  • 38. Authenticity of podcast series (1): content and sound design  ‘The information that came from the readings, particularly the local ones, were very, very interesting… I think that you could put more in’ (Sandy)  ‘The sound design made it sound like you were sitting next to a 1940s radio’ (Kim)
  • 39. Authenticity of podcast series (2): voices and accents  ‘It’s the voices that made it real for me’ (Rowan)  ‘Bethany was using [a 1930s accent] but not overdoing it… It was just right in making you think “This is someone from that time talking about their life”, rather than “[This is] someone from now talking about somebody who lived [during the war]”’ (Nicky)
  • 40. Authenticity of podcast series (3): versatility of Bethany Ray’s acting  ’She’s got several voices.. young woman, the very indignant young woman… the creative person… and the very educated one’ (Frankie)  ‘Anger or dismay or distrust in Lorna’s voice [was] actually much better than you could demonstrate… on a written page’ (Kim)
  • 41. Authenticity of podcast series (4): Bethany Ray’s family connection to Lorna, and her age  ‘Neat’, ‘Nice thing’ (Rowan); ‘Interesting’ (Alex); ‘Quite special’ (Sandy)  ‘It was really important that [Bethany] was a similar age [to Lorna] giving the dramatisation authenticity and immediacy… It’s an absolute bonus that [Bethany] is a member of Lorna’s family and there is that connection’ (Chris)
  • 42. Authenticity of podcast series (5): Bethany Ray as/is Lorna  ‘You could almost, genuinely, hear Lorna’ (Sandy)  ‘It could have so easily been Lorna speaking’ (Chris)  ‘It just came over as if [Lorna] was talking to you’ (Frankie)  ‘I actually felt… as if I was listening to Lorna’ (Sam)  ‘It’s [all] absolutely true as far as I am concerned’ (Kim)
  • 43. Authenticity: the podcast series versus the Blipfoto journal  Although the interviewees spoke more about markers of authenticity in the podcast series, more of those who expressed a firm opinion (4 of 7) found the Blipfoto journal more authentic
  • 44. Authenticity of Blipfoto format: images of source material, references, ‘editorial’ commentary  ‘Being able to see the photo of the diary [entries], and to know that it was an exact transcript, and to have the extra references… and to know people are doing extra research around it’ (Alex)
  • 45. Some interviewees missed the elements not ‘translated’ across from Blipfoto to the podcast series  ‘You don’t get quite a rounded picture’ (Frankie)  ‘There’s more explanation on the blip site… If I was listening to the podcasts without having read the blip [I would be] wondering “Who’s Theo? You keep talking about Theo”!’ (Alex)
  • 46. Value of comments and cross-referencing on Blipfoto  ‘I know [the comments] were short and largely just enthusing, but I missed the sense of the [other] readers’ (Frankie)  ‘I found it really interesting when [Lorna wrote reflectively about earlier diary entries] and [would] say ”What I said then was rubbish”… You can’t go back and listen to the podcasts so easily, whereas you can go back and read that blip’ (Alex)
  • 47. Strongest messages on the presentation of the digitised archive as a podcast series 1. It generates a sense of vitality: ‘Listening does make it much more vivid’ (Nicky) 2. It enhances learning: observing the war in a ‘real timeline’ (Rowan) 3. It prompts emotional responses: ‘It was really moving’ (Frankie)
  • 48. Vitality of the podcast series  ‘When you are reading on screen, you’re reading it in your own voice. You’re not really getting a feeling for how exactly things were said… I found it much more helpful to have the different voices so that I could relate to it a bit more’ (Sam)  ‘The BBC archive material really brought it to life as well. It just made it so present’ (Frankie)
  • 49. Enhanced learning from the podcast series  About Lorna’s times: ‘She’s saying “Oh today… they announced the war”… and then… the Prime Minister announcing the war [comes next]’ (Pat)  About the war: from news items (Nicky, Sam) that lend breadth (Rowan) and immediacy (Chris), and prompt further research (Frankie)  Convenience: ‘I probably learnt more from the podcast because it was all there’ (Sam)
  • 50. The stronger emotional impact of the podcast series is due to the ‘uninterrupted’ format, and lead actor connections  ‘There was a bigger emotional connection [to the entries than] when they were interspersed with other things’ (Chris)  ‘[Bethany Ray as Lorna] adds to [the podcast series] a little bit in terms of emotional impact [because] she is reading the words of her relation’ (Pat)
  • 51. The podcast series has emotional impact even when listeners are already familiar with the content  ‘It was quite a shock when the diary ended, and the next thing was the letter from Theo… There didn’t seem to be any warning of that. It came as a bit of a shock even though I’d actually [already] read it in all the blip stuff… It had the desired effect… “Oh no!”’ (Rowan)
  • 52. Emotional impact of podcast comes from contemporary parallels  ‘The parallels in Blipfoto were with COVID, and now it’s further parallels with the war. It’s been a demanding experience emotionally’ (Frankie)
  • 53. Emotional impact of the podcast series and Ukraine  ‘Ukraine makes me emotional. It made me think afresh about [the invasion] when I listened to the podcast’ (Pat)  [It’s] so much harder… because we are in a similar situation… If you changed the words slightly it could [be] contemporary... If we made Germany Russia, and made Finland Ukraine’ (Nicky)
  • 54. Ukraine and history repeating itself  ‘This is all just happening again’ (Frankie)  ‘We are dealing with [accommodating displaced people] today’ (Nicky)  ‘I was thinking about some of the things that she was saying about Hitler… and drawing parallels with Putin’s behaviour... how the Ukrainians must be feeling’ (Sam)
  • 55. ENGAGEMENT WITH THE ARCHIVE AS ‘PERFORMANCE’ Main initial conclusions from the empirical study
  • 56. Facets of engagement with an archive digitised in audio format as a podcast series  Audience members are entertained listening to high quality audio files of a cohesive and vivid performance of an authentic, real-life, story that is supported by contemporaneous news material  This performance prompts strong emotional responses to the archive material, and encourages learning
  • 57. Is it worth the effort to present an archived data set as a podcast series?  You need many resources  It takes much longer than you could ever imagine to create a professional output  We’re proud of our achievement – but would we do it again if we understood in advance the effort required?
  • 58. For further information and resources • Listen to the podcast series: https://rss.com/podcasts/lornalloyd/ • Read the LornaL Blipfoto journal at http://blipfoto.com/lornal • Read the LornaLPodcast Blipfoto journal at http://blipfoto.com/lornalpodcast • See the Malvern Museum web pages at https://malvernmuseum.co.uk/lorna-lloyds- diary-of-the-war/ • Pick up a copy of the poetry booklet • Contact Hazel Hall at h.hall@napier.ac.uk, @hazelh, http://hazelhall.org
  • 59. Digital options: an assessment of audience engagement with a digitised archive set transformed from online text and images to audio format Dr Bruce Ryan b.ryan@napier.ac.uk @Bruce_Research Professor Hazel Hall h.hall@napier.ac.uk @hazelh Dr Iain McGregor i.mcgregor@napier.ac.uk Paper presented at ARA Conference, Chester, 2nd September 2022