Oral History Metadata Synchronizer (OHMS)

The Oral History Metadata Synchronizer (OHMS) allows historians to display recorded spoken narrative alongside accompanied transcribed material on a single webpage. Many of the steps necessary to complete this process involve a moderate degree of digital literacy; however, patience and careful study of program requirements has the potential to develop a general understanding for novice computer users.  The goal of OHMS should be clear to all users: to create greater access and insight to oral history practice currently in-use over the internet.

My enthusiasm to learn, to use, and to help others create access to synchronized recordings online, emerged from the desire to innovate necessary oral history interviewing skills combined with active post-production of a single recording from start to finish.  The field of oral history continues to advance, and gain new practitioners, thanks in part to born-digital technical capabilities.  Upgrades to technology and independent tool-kit contents does not change best practice standards by which each historian is obliged to consider as ethical framework.  On the contrary, it is my belief that technical hardware and software programs, including OHMS, should never be a distraction to narrators during or after the recording process. In a few words: an interviewer’s technical workflow need not include the narrator.

All practitioners of oral history collection should be familiar with the many steps necessary to conduct a single interview.  In projects which call for a great number of narrators to contribute, a demand for exceptional individual knowledge and applicable start to finish processes is recommended.  At the homepage, OHMS provides an abundance of tutorials, trainings, and documentations on how to use the software, making a small workshop format possible for future classroom use.

A helpful OHMS FAQ page covers basic beginning information need, the OHMS application itself, and the resulting OHMS viewer.  Through established workflow collaborations, and independent practitioner approach to post-production display, projects seeking to offer synchronized oral history transcripts online can benefit from OHMS.

For many, OHMS may appear to be a novelty of the internet’s market for shared content. This view ignores the multitude of open-access capabilities that future historians will surely incorporate into their own practice.  That said, interviewers risk a limited potential of their work’s meaning should they choose to rely on the work of post-production in terms of someone else’s responsibility.  OHMS clearly supports the revitalized interest of oral history through today’s digital humanities community and, likewise, should not sidetrack historians from a solid best practice methodology.

With this in mind, I would classify OHMS as a promising response to the needs of today’s historians, anthropologists, even journalists, who interview, record, and research using oral history narratives.  Like many disciplines which require such involved processes, as mentioned, careful study and knowledgeable practice can help to mitigate obstacles and produce results for projects big and small.

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Public History at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico: Poverty, Homelessness, and Hunger in New Mexico Borderlands. All interviews are free of charge, open to all citizens of the United States and Mexico, and held at libraries, archives, and meeting spaces throughout the region. To schedule a potential public history interview: Email record@nmsu.edu Phone: (505) 715-8779

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David Lee

David Lee

Public History at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico: Poverty, Homelessness, and Hunger in New Mexico Borderlands. All interviews are free of charge, open to all citizens of the United States and Mexico, and held at libraries, archives, and meeting spaces throughout the region. To schedule a potential public history interview: Email record@nmsu.edu Phone: (505) 715-8779

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