Boyd, D. (2013). OHMS: Enhancing Access to Oral History for Free. Oral History Review, 40(1), 95–106. doi:10.1093/ohr/oht031
This paper describes a new software tool for use in oral history archives (OHMS – Oral History Metadata Synchronizer). While describing the tool itself in detail (in terms of the background to its development, its technological specifications, its practical uses within an oral history archives) for me, one of the most interesting aspects of this paper was the identification of the primary motivator for creating the tool, i.e. under-utilization of oral histories. Boyd identifies this as primarily a problem of quick access to content. Based on first-hand observation he is able to assert that “researchers using interviews overwhelmingly prefer transcripts” (Boyd 2013, 100). He follows this with a discussion of some of the problems (and some of the benefits) of transcription. Elsewhere, much of the discussion of transcription within oral history centres around ethics; the authentic voice and its dilution as it is transferred into written text, as well as concerns over relations of power and dis-empowerment between oral historian and narrator (e.g. see Mazé 2007). Boyd’s take is more practical, and his objections to transcription centre primarily on cost. As a response to this, the OHMS has been built as a quick and efficient indexing tool, allowing an indexer to tag according to the content of the interview. Boyd also notes that research terms (the words that a researcher might input when carrying out a text search) do not necessarily occur during natural conversation. This means that some relevant content may not be “caught” during a search based solely on a transcript. Boyd argues that indexing is a way of overcoming this problem, since audio, video and transcripts can all be indexed using (if desired or necessary) a controlled vocabulary.
Mazé, E. (2007). The uneasy page: transcribing and editing oral history. In L. R. Ballard (Ed.), History of Oral History: Foundations and Methodology (pp. 227–262). Plymouth: AltaMira Press.