Collecting: Group Members
Guha Shankar (pending)
 Collecting: Group Member Assignments
Scott Pennington: Video
Troy Reeves: Intellectual Property
Charlie Hardy: Bold text
 Preliminary Group Summary:
We, as the collecting group, will assist those interested in conducting oral history interviews, whether using audio, video, or both, by helping them to make effective decisions in the project planning and gathering phases of an oral history project.
In summary, digital age oral history projects, whether capturing new material or recapturing extant [pt. 1], analog material, should:
• compile a broad a range of documents—audio/video recordings, photographs, digitized paper, electronic documents, and so forth—within existing budgets, timetables, and expertise to enable libraries, archives, museums, and community scholars to preserve, interpret, and disseminate myriad types of histories [pt. 1, 3, 4, & 9]
• inspire collectors to envision not only his, her, or their use of the project’s contents but also future users’ wants and needs [pt. 2]
• allow collectors and current and future users a chance to recast how people publish and view audio and video recordings, and, more broadly, to change people’s mindsets of oral history itself [pt. 5-7]
• have the extant examples (model projects) and hypothetical models (decision trees) that will enable them to make good decisions about recording equipment and collection strategies, and to maximize the cost effectiveness, success, and enduring value of their proposed projects [pts. 8 & 10]
 Topics/questions for our “guests”–Guha, Gerry, and Susan–at our 9/15 meeting
-What would be your “Best practices and recommendations” for digital video recording, focusing on the following topics:
-recording media and formats (“tape” or hard drive for example)
-SD v HD advantages and disadvantages
-do I need “broadcast quality” if my interviews are only going online
-What are you thoughts on emerging DSLR cameras and their video/audio recording abilities
[Under the questions are comments that Scott P and I [Troy] came up with during our 9/1 tele-meeting.]
-is the outcome of the oral history project (exhibit, website, documentary, archive, book, article, radio)a determinant of the technology I use?
Scott and I looked at this question through the lens of the question, “do I need “broadcast quality” if my interviews are only going online,” in the video section.
-Best practices and recommendations for digital audio recording
-recording media and formats
‘.wav or .aiff (non-compressed sound) should be the standard for recording/preserving, as far as presenting/publishing, a compressed file (.mp3) would do. Scott and I talked about balancing the need to give folks who read this specific information to help them and not drown them in a lot of technical information. So, we should discuss compression in as general as possible terms in the body of our work and perhaps give them a more detailed view in an appendix or in links to documents/websites that go into more depth.
Memory cards as standard media and perhaps even recorders, such as Marantz 661, that use SD cards. We also talked here about providing the essentials for recording here (uncompressed sound, bit depth, frequency, media) without getting into specific recorders, then include an appendix/bibliography that has, in 2010, the most recommended audio recorders.’
-Best practices and recommendations for digital video recording
-recording media and formats
-SD v HD advantages and disadvantages
-do I need “broadcast quality” if my interviews are only going online
Scott led discussion here. We did decide on some type of introduction, perhaps akin to the decision tree that has been talked about before Scott and I came on board, on To Video or Not to Video. Some questionnaire that would allow users to quickly come to a decision whether video is the right choice for their project. If, after that section, they decide to use video then we give them our best practices and/or things to know about video, such as the importance of setting/lighting, the move to HD (and inboard storage) with quality cameras continuing to come down in price, the idea that all digital video is compressed, and the fact that digital video can give the project quality still photos (if you have a memory card for your recorder). We also decided that these topics should be the ones we ask the attendees of our 9/15 meeting to help us address.
Whatever we include as appendix or reference for audio, we need to do the same for video, meaning perhaps a 2010 best of video recorders and documents/website that go into more depth regarding compression/codecs.
-Microphone choices: Which mic do I use?
-old mics v. new mics
-which mic for what purpose?
-do I even need an external mic anymore?
There was not much discussion here, except to say that we need to continue to stress the importance of external microphones while noting that improvement in inboard mics (such as the one on the ZoomH2) has made them a future possibility/reality. And again if we do a 2010 best of list for recorders and websites/documents with more depth on compression/codes/etc, then we should do the same to demystify the types of microphones.
-Emerging Recording Choices
-ipod, iphone, ipad
-flip cameras, webcameras
-skype interviews vs. phone interviews
For our purposes we thought we should mention these emerging recordings choices and the increasing ease in which a phone or skype interview can be gathered in a way that does not denigrate them as an option but not the preferred model, which would be face to face interviews gathered with audio or video recorders and microphones that fall into the guidelines we create.
-Digital Tech and Ethics and IP
-audio and video editing before going into the archive.
-impact of digital distribution potential on fieldwork/interviewing technique regarding issues pertaining to defamation
Even though new technologies have made editing easier, we still should argue for gathering and preserving the full interview (unless the narrator requests/demands that sections are embargoed/deleted), so future generations will have the entire interview to peruse. We were not sure exactly meant by the last question, but we thought we might ask our guests on the 9/15 to comment on it.
 Part 1
In the digital age, formerly separate media have collapsed into a single, increasingly integrated digital domain that encompasses the written and printed word, still and moving images, and sound documents that include soundscapes, sound markers, sound events, human vocalizations, and audio documentaries and other produced work, as well as the spoken word. Collecting, storage and preservation, and dissemination must address both previously created documents in multiple media (archival documents) and those newly created using digital technologies.
 Part 2
As in the analog age, oral history collecting projects have a responsibility to collect for future audiences. (General Principles for Oral History and Best Practices for Oral History, “Best Practices for Oral History, Interview, #4, bullet point 4: ‘interviewers should attempt to extend the inquiry beyond the specific focus of the project to create as complete a record as possible for the benefit of others.’”)
 Part 3
Oral historians in the digital age, because of expanding multiple media digital environments thus have broader collecting responsibilities than their analog-age predecessors. The collection of oral histories in the digital age should be based upon the recognition that the historical content of the spoken word exists in historically significant auditory and visual contexts that should also be collected and preserved.
 Part 4
In principle, then, oral history projects should collect as broad a range of contextual documents as possible, within their existing budgets, timetables, and range of expertise to enable libraries, archives, museums of varying types and sizes, and community scholars to preserve, interpret, and disseminate accounts of the individuals, events, communities, and other subjects that they document. (General Principles for Oral History and Best Practices for Oral History, “Best Practices for Oral History, Pre-interview, 7. Oral historians should use the best recording equipment available within the limits of their financial resources”)
 Part 5
Collecting does not take place in isolation. The nature of the digital equipment to be used and the documents to be collected is directly related to the purposes of the libraries, archives, museums, community scholars, and other agents who collect them, and to their future uses. In line with OHA Best Practices “to create as complete a record as possible for the benefit of others,” digital age oral history projects should be collecting those documents that the full range of “others” in the future will need to author, mount, produce, create, compose—add in the verb of one’s choice—digital exhibits, articles, and other forms of publication/dissemination in multi-media digital formats, and in digital genres that have yet to be developed as well as those that currently exist.
 Part 6
As current developments are already showing, publication and exhibition in the digital age will differ in significant ways from publication and exhibition past and present media environments, including print publication and on-site exhibition of physical objects; broadcast and non-broadcast electrical audio–radio, phonograph record, analog tape formats—and electrical moving image, including film, television, and video cassette; and emerging digital media, including, CDROM, CD, DVD, phone line-flat page Internet, and so forth. The hardware and software costs for collection and dissemination, and the training time and skill sets needed for their effective use are going to continue to change. If current trends continue, lower costs and greater ease of use will continue the democratizing trends currently in progress. (We should keep this in mind when designing decision trees and best practices for collecting oral histories in the digital age. Indeed, the term “oral history” is already problematic, for it refers to collecting practices and principles developed in the mid-20th century, a time when the pioneers of oral history methodology used new analog open-reel audio tape hardware to capture spoken words to be reworked, stored, and disseminated in print. In the late 20th century the term “aural history” emerged to reflect the significant reconceptualization of the methodology brought about by the impact of less expensive, easier to use, higher fidelity audio technologies for the collecting of spoken-word and other sound documents, stored on open-reel and audio cassette and disseminated on radio, phonograph record, audio cassette, listening stations and other audio media. New terminology has not yet emerged to reflect the ongoing reconceptualization being produced by emerging digital media. We should, however, keep in mind to what degree our conceptions of oral/aural history methodology are historical artifacts shaped by socialization in technological and media environments that no longer exist. )
 Part 7
Oral histories do not exist in isolation. Oral history projects need to keep in mind the broader still emerging digital media environments, including the entertainment and consumer industries that set audience expectations. To convince potential underwriters to fund their projects and activities, libraries, archives, museums, scholars, and others will need to demonstrate their ability to attract audiences that expect media-rich content. In the planning phase, projects should delineate the range of documents they will collect. As a rule of thumb, collection should be broader than the recording of talking heads, embodied or disembodied.
 Part 8
The Collecting Group should address collecting best practice along different branches of decision trees that address the collection of a broad of range of documents in a broad range of media. In addition to offering advice about video and audio recording of spoken-word interviews, we should offer specific, but not too specific advice about scanning, still photography, and collection of the range of images, events, sounds, and vocalizations needed to author in digital media in ways that meet audience expectations and that justify underwriting in the digital age.
 Part 9
Collecting projects should provide libraries, museums, archives, and community scholars the documents they need to preserve and interpret histories of the 20th and 21st centuries. For better and for worse, the free market profoundly shapes dissemination. Today, for-profit entities own a significant percentage of the multi-media materials that document the history of the 20th century. They will also own a significant percentage of the digital materials that document the history of the 21th century. The fees that many copyright holders charge for the use of these materials are prohibitively expensive for most libraries, archives, museums, and scholars. The hope that economies of scale—i.e. expanded numbers of users—will drive down prices has not been realized, and does not address the problem of for-profit entities acting as historical gatekeepers by locking up historically significant documents or pricing them out of the reach of most users.
 Part 10
The model projects that we identify should expand libraries’, archives’, museums’, and community scholars’ sense of the documents they can and should be collecting in the digital age.
 Part 11
Our decision trees should be based on multiple criteria, including budget, project objectives (short term/long term), preservation (more important for some projects than for others), and dissemination and use. To make this information as useful as possible we should develop a series of matrices and offer concrete examples that demonstrate the range of possibilities available in the digital age. This is important because many people engaging in oral history projects have outdated, pre-digital notions of oral history methodology. From the perspective of digital dissemination, we should work from the premise that projects should use media in a complementary fashion, playing to the strengths of each.
Decision tree examples:
Methodology: • Projects that think of the oral history interview as a document that is co-created by interviewer and narrator (i.e. dialogic) should consider interviewing in two-track mono, with both interviewer and narrator on separate channels. Two-track recording also provides far greater flexibility in audio production and video post-production work.
End use: • Documentaries: Collectors should think about special interviewing techniques used by sound and video documentary producers, such as asking same questions in different environments (sit down interview/on site), and asking narrators to repeat an answer/story in order to provide the interviewer a clear beginning and/or ending.
• Immersive environments in public exhibits or on the web (This includes both headphone listening and multi-channel sound installations): Collectors should think about binaural and multi-channel sound recording and the hardware needed for binaural and multi-channel sound collection. They should also be provided an explanation of the reasons to consider recording binaurally or with multiple mikes, and be given examples of outstanding uses of binaural and multi-channel sound.
• Curriculum Resources: Collectors should think about the potential of the projects in generating materials for K-gray learners, for curriculum developers, and for educators in both formal (including home school contexts) and informal learning environments (including those in the physical and online museum, archive, and library contexts).
• Curated On Line Multimedia Exhibitions or Products: Collectors should think about what digital materials need to be collected in order to create digitally-born exhibitions or other interpretive projects.
 Next Action Steps
 Collecting Group Consultants
 Collecting Group Documents
File:OHDA collecting group draft document 10 2010.pdf
This file is the pdf version of the email I sent on 6/2 to the collecting group, with my initial questions to ourselves and our consultants.
OHDA initial questions Troy 6 2010.pdf
[Draft overview of VTR formats and tape]
Camera and Microphone demonstrations:
Video demonstration – Consumer SD camera/Prosumer SD camera/Prosumer HD camera comparison
Video demonstration – Different lighting situations, various cameras
Audio demonstration – Four different microphones
This an email query and the responses (from H-OralHist, an H-Net listserv) on the topic of “Are in-person interviews still relevant?” File:OHDA horalhist listserv collated emails 6 2010.pdf
Oral History in the Digital Age (first draft) IMLS Grant 2010-2011
Digital Audio Standards
Recorder: Digital recorder or laptop (what must laptop have?)
“Tape”: Memory card, recorders will take either SDHC or Compact Flash cards
Power: Batteries (rechargeable preferred) or AC power adaptor
Recording Mode: Stereo (preferred) or mono (accepted)
File Type: uncompressed (.wav or .aiff)
Khz: 96 (preferred) 44.1 or 48 (accepted)
Bit Depth: 24 (preferred) 16 (accepted)
Microphone: External (preferred) Internal (accepted on most new recorders)
Microphone Type: Dynamic (preferred) Condensor (accepted)