Oral history is a field with a growing digital component and, as with other DH fields, computer-based techniques and systems have revolutionized the way we process and present content. One particular set of activities, which I refer to as Oral History Digital Indexing (OHDI), has been important in shaping new processes and methods for organization, analysis, and curation of digital oral history. I have been directly involved with this work in the United States and am currently working in Luxembourg to explore what aspects of OHDI will be appropriate in Europe.
In this presentation I will introduce the organizations, projects, and tools that have helped shape OHDI. Among these projects/products is the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer, or OHMS, which has two important modes of digital indexing for oral histories. One is a transcript synchronization tool and the second an indexing tool, both of which help create multimedia webpages that connect interviews in an audio/video media player with text representations of the content. OHMS and other tools will be highlighted briefly, while emphasizing that no two systems have exactly the same features. One unifying principle behind OHDI tools is that indexing processes, i.e., creating shorter, summarizing text tied to time points in the a/v media, can and should take priority over word-for-word transcription. The indexing concept leads to multiple options for processing, analyzing, and presenting an oral history and OHDI also provides a framework for operating under the inevitable reality that not all digital processing options are feasible to pursue.