Announcing Stories Matter

Michael Frisch has recently written that the “deep dark secret” of oral history, is that we don’t really know what to do with the orality of the source. In transcribing our interviews, we lose the orality almost immediately thus shoring the narratives of much of their meaning. This new media application now offers oral historians an alternative to transcription.

On behalf of the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling, I would like to announce an update to our popular oral history database called “Stories Matter.” In phase I (completed in May 2009), oral historians could download the software and build oral history databases on their local computers. In phase II (completed in January 2010), the database allowed us to merge our local databases to an online server and therefore access them remotely.

Stories matter allows us to clip, index and export audio and video recordings – and so it represents a real alternative to transcription. It is also free. We have been using the Stories Matter extensively at Concordia and are in the final stages of building a large database for our Life Stories project (http://www.lifestoriesmontreal.ca/) which is interviewing survivors of war, genocide and other human rights abuses.

New features of the latest version allow for faster upload speeds, better project management options and an improved user interface. This new release also fixes some of the bug issues we found. Here is a sample screen shot below.

Screenshot of Stories Matter Interface

We encourage oral historians to test Stories Matter and to send us your comments and suggestions to stories@alcor.concordia.ca . If you have access to video conference facilities, we would be willing to provide your Oral History Centre, Institute, or Conference with a short 60-minute workshop. We would also be willing to write short stories for your on- or off-line newsletters. Feel free to forward this email to your networks.

Funding came from Concordia University, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Canada Research Chairs program of the Canadian Government, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. If you are interested in knowing more about how we approached the making of this software “by and for oral historians”, you are invited to visit our blog and an article published in Digital Stories.

Yours Sincerely,

Steven High

Affiliate at the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling and Director of the Stories Matter project.

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