Cataloging 1,000 hours of educational history

“Pop Up Archive is a great product. When I pitched it in my interview to lead this project, it lit up the room. I took a short segment from an LA city council meeting and demonstrated to everybody how it worked, and within a minute they all got what it was, what it did, and what the value was to our project.” Summer Espinoza, Digital Archivist

Summer Espinoza is a digital archivist at California State University at Dominguez Hills, and she’s currently working on a huge project digitizing the archives for the entire California State University system archives. This encompasses anything related relevant to the board of trustees, task forces, and much more, and includes topics such as educational policy, master planning, and system-wide initiatives. While the archive is primarily composed of documents, there are also around 600 audio files totaling over 1,000 hours that date from the early days of the system in the 1960s and 1980s. Continue reading

Pop Up Archive customers: Save 15% on Hearken and engage your audience

“Pop Up Archive and Hearken provide absolutely critical services for reporters and news organizations. Hearken allows us to interact with our audience in a meaningful way, and with Pop Up Archive we can quickly transform audio into searchable text that makes production more efficient and online accessibility simple. These platforms are indispensable parts of any 21st century newsroom.”

—Tim Olson, Chief Digital Officer (KQED)

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Oral histories of the civil rights movement

Nearly 54 years ago, on September 2nd 1963, Alabama Governor George Wallace issued an executive order to forcibly halt federally-mandated public school integration. State troopers encircled Tuskegee High School, and the school was shut down completely for a week until five federal judges ordered the state to reopen it. Today, we look back at three stories that look at different aspects of race and civil rights in America.

Sit-ins: The new approach to desegregation — Illinois Public Media

During a speech on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Rev. Charles Jones spoke about the usefulness of sit-ins as a method of improving civil rights, including his own involvement with a sit-in started by Chapel Hill High School students. Even though this was a new approach for desegregation, it was not a new form of protest. Listen.

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Audio team makes it easy for digital editors to say ‘yes’

Daniel Dopp is a digital audio producer at ESPN, where he has worked for four years producing several different podcasts including Fantasy Focus Football, The Bill Barnwell Show, and Adam Schefter’s Know Them From Adam. He does everything from generating story ideas, to coordinating and booking guests, to mixing and publishing final cuts. In order to promote the content from the finished shows, he takes short, juicy clips and sends them — along with a transcript generated by Pop Up Archive — to the ESPN editorial team for use in other content such as TV shows or online stories.

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Introducing an audio labeling toolkit

Earlier this year, Pop Up worked with Tanya Clement and Steve McLaughlin of the UT-Austin School of Information on a massive effort to use machine learning to identify notable speakers’ voices (for example, Martin Luther King, Jr.) from within the American Archive of Public Broadcasting’s 70,000 digitized audio and video recordings. Now, Tanya and Steve are sharing DIY techniques for using free machine learning algorithms to help label speakers in “unheard” audio.

This is a huge and hugely important effort: a model that can identify a single speaker’s voice has vast potential implications for the ability to see inside audio, making the content to accessible to researchers, organizations, and the general public. That the toolkit they’re sharing is DIY means its appropriate for use by programming novices who may be working on their first audio project. Continue reading

Remembering authors in their own words

On this day in 1809, physician and author Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. was born in Cambridge MA. Famous for being a Fireside Poet and the author of “Old Ironsides” (and, later, the father of Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.), he was a huge influence on the 19th century literary world. Today, we commemorate three other influential authors by revisiting conversations with them about their work from the archives.

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Using objects to catalyze memory and narrative

Professor Francesco Spagnolo studies cultural heritage, a topic area that might seem situated squarely in the distant past — but that’s not how he sees it. “While there is a lot of concern among people about our cultural artifacts going digital; I’m interested in how in how cultural heritage includes both the digital and the tangible: these two dimensions exist in a loop, they are not separate from one.” As the curator for the The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life at the University of California Berkeley, and a professor at the University, he is uniquely positioned to explore this relationship.

In Fall 2016, Professor Spagnolo taught a course called “Mapping Diasporas” that focused on the role of digital humanities in documenting and mapping culture in motion. As part of the class, he collaborated with Citizen Film. Together, they invited five refugees to meet with the students, and each were asked to bring with them one or more “memory objects” – tangible objects that spoke to them about home, culture, identity, or location. Several of the refugees had recently relocated to the Bay Area from Afghanistan, Syria, and Uganda, and presented their stories to the class. As part of an “un-final” project for the class, students conducted audio interviews with the refugees. Those interviews, and photos of those memory objects, are now being turned into a digital mapping project — and Pop Up Archive is helping.

Audio from the interviews is being transcribed using Pop Up Archive. Students go through the transcripts and use the interactive editor to correct any imperfections and assign and identify speakers. The machine-generated transcripts are critical to the overall efficiency of the project, which, based on student interest, is continuing past the end of the Semester at UC Berkeley. Professor Spagnolo and his students plan to finalize the interview transcripts, make all the files public, and then digitally document the memory objects, eventually combining all of these elements into an online map that the public can interact with in order to follow the journeys of the refugees.

“I’ve been a huge fan of Pop Up Archive since the beginning, and I continue to be a fan. It’s very collaborative and intuitive, and a completely natural platform to use to work with students and to collaborate on an oral history project like this one.” Images, texts, and audio will be interwoven in a map that will hopefully convey the immediacy of the refugee experience, and the importance of cultural heritage in maintaining one’s identity in displacement. “This is of extreme relevance today, when one seventh of the world’s population is estimated to be displaced.”Citizen Film, a documentary group, is also working on a short pilot documentary based on one of the narratives. Together, they presented a program about their work at the East Bay JCC on June 22.

Image: Ward Shelly’s Mapping the Jewish Diaspora

A Pop Up Archive Guide for KCRW’s 2017 #RadioRace contestants!

On the weekend of August 19-20, our pals at KCRW’s Independent Producer Project are hosting their fourth annual Radio Race—a chance for pro and hobbyist sound collectors to test their chops against the clock and produce a nonfiction radio story within 24 hours. 

To help radio racers get their stories in the can, Pop Up Archive is offering free audio transcriptions for participants. Pop Up Archives’ transcriptions save participants valuable production time so they can quickly zero on their best content and, with the help of our new Adobe Audition plug-in, easily edit and stitch clips together. Continue reading

A history of nuclear energy in the United States

In August 1939, Albert Einstein wrote a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt with some observations and recommendations about atomic weapons, including this chilling line: “A single bomb of this type carried by boat and exploded in a port, might very well destroy the whole port together with some of the surrounding territory.” Today, we share three pieces looking at the dangers, applications, and security questions surrounding this invention.

Image: Lennart Tange (Flickr)

The dangers of nuclear power Studs Terkel Radio Archive

Myron M. Cherry is a lawyer who argued against the licensing of several nuclear power plants. He successfully slowed their development in the 1970s by “waging a war of attrition on the nuclear industry,” turning the construction of a new reactor into a public and political liability. In 1975, he was interviewed by Studs Terkel. Listen.

President Harry S. Truman signs the Atomic Energy Act into law on August 1, 1946. Image: Wikimedia

Open secrets: National security and the first amendement
— Pacific Radio Archives

In 1983, as part of the  bill of rights education project producer John Reiger undertook an examination of the legal, historical, and practical contexts of technology for nationalistic purposes — including the Atomic Energy Act. Listen.

SS Kentuckian in the Panama Canal. Image: Wikimedia

The Nuclear Canal — KQED Science

“Geographical engineering” with atomic explosives almost became a reality more than half a century ago, when scientists and engineers at the Lawrence Livermore Lab wanted to expand the Panama Canal to allow larger ships through. “Project Ploughshare,” as this effort was known, never happened (and thank goodness). Listen.

See you in the archives,

The Pop Up Archive Team

Optimizely gathers user insights through interviews —  and turns it into action

Speaking to users to better understand customer needs and to conduct usability testing are both key parts of successful product development. Optimizely proactively engages their audience in their design workflow, leveraging insights through customer interviews, and Pop Up Archive is a key tool in their effort.

Jeff Zych is Head of Design at Optimizely, a tool for personalizing digital experiences. In that role, he runs a team of product designers, researchers, and user interface engineers whose jobs are to constantly develop and improve the company’s products.

As part of this effort, Optimizely regularly does research interviews with customers where they might share a prototype or talk about how an existing product is being used. Each Optimizely designer has a couple of projects in flight at any given time — depending on the cycle of the project, they might be conducting interviews to better understand customer needs or do usability testing, both key parts of product development.

They conduct around 12 interviews a month, all of which are recorded, and needed a way to quickly review the contents of those conversations to find insights and synthesize key takeaways. In search of an automated solution, they turned to Pop Up Archive. The interviews, which are one-on-one and usually last 45 minutes to an hour, usually take place over the phone and often include a video screen sharing component.

After an interview is recorded, it’s usually uploaded to Pop Up Archive within a day or two. Once the transcript is complete, it’s exported and edited (although not to the point of absolute accuracy) in a word processor. Often the text will be used to create an affinity diagram, where the raw text (such as key points or sentences) from across a number of interviews are clustered into themes to understand the overarching themes. Sometimes transcripts get shared with project managers or engineers, but often the raw research gets turned into a presentation that transforms the findings into actionable insights.

Before using Pop Up Archive, Optimizely gathered customer insights in different ways: sometimes someone would lead an interview and someone else would take notes, sometimes the interviewer would both conduct the conversation and take notes, and sometimes an interview would be hand transcribed after the fact. All of these solutions were a bit chaotic, often less precise, and time-consuming. Using Pop Up means they don’t need to worry about note-taking and can just focus on the customer. Two features of the software that they particularly value are the automatic speaker detection and the timestamps. “Other transcription services don’t split the speakers, but that’s important for us because of the interview format,” said Jeff. In the case of the timestamps, they’ll sync those back to the video if they know someone said something interesting, but can’t remember exactly what.

Turnaround time is really important for Optimizely’s needs since they’re often iterating quickly. “Once we’ve used the interviews to guide product and design decisions, we don’t revisit them all that often.