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

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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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

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.

Behind the scenes of “America’s attic”

When you hear the words “Smithsonian Institution,” you might think of a hallowed yet fusty single museum in Washington, D.C. But the Smithsonian is much broader and deeper than that — in addition to its 19 museums  visited by millions every year, it encompasses 9 research centers and the national zoo spread across multiple states and countries where active research is happening. Justin O’Neill, the producer of the Smithsonian’s podcast Sidedoor, is trying to bring the many rich aspects of the Smithsonian to life and to share them with the broader public, and Pop Up Archive is a critical tool in his workflow. Continue reading

Crunch time: crafting audio news features efficiently

“No one gets into reporting because they like transcribing. …Overall [Pop Up Archive] is very accurate. I’ve seen it improve a lot in the time I’ve been using it and it’s helping us hugely in our day to day management and production of stories.”
—Audrey Dilling, KALW Crosscurrents

Audrey Dilling has been a reporter and producer for “Crosscurrents,” a daily news magazine at KALW in San Francisco. She has primarily produced features about water, reporting stories that are six to eight minutes long. That may not sound like a lot — until you realize that each feature is composed of at least three interviews, plus ambient sound, and that the raw tape for each interview prior to editing can run from twenty to forty minutes long. To help her use time efficiently and streamline the production process, Audrey uses Pop Up Archive to transcribe and organize tape. Continue reading

Creating an audio montage from 50+ hours of tape

Source: Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Presidential primaries are a huge deal everywhere, but they garner particular importance in states like New Hampshire, where their early timing positions them as bellwethers of what is to come. 2016 was one of the most contentious and protracted elections cycles yet, and New Hampshire Public Radio wanted to produce as much excellent primary coverage as they could — and make sure their primary night coverage was picked up by other stations across the country that were also following the race closely. Continue reading

TriPod podcast celebrates New Orleans’ past

Weatherbeaten wharves in New Orleans. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

To celebrate the tricentennial of New Orleans, WWNO — the NPR member station for New Orleans and the 13 parishes of southeast Louisiana — wanted to create something intimate and rich that captured the history of the city in a meaningful way. The result is “TriPod: New Orleans at 300,” a unique on-air program (and podcast) that, over the course of three years, celebrates the city’s past through short, documentary-style episodes.

Laine Kaplan-Levenson is the host and producer of TriPod. TriPod’s 10-minute episodes air bi-weekly, and each one is its own mini history documentary. A recent two-part episode (I, II) for example, told the story of a World War II internment camp called Camp Algiers that housed Europeans who the United States thought might be Nazis.

Laine produces the show on her own, but she has an auxiliary team of historians, professors, and museum curators who help her identify the stories behind some of the city’s most compelling pieces of history. Each month they sit down to discuss different topics to cover. After selecting the topic for the next show, Laine reaches out to people to start interviewing. As the sole producer, she knew she would need to rely on tools in order to keep up with the bi-weekly schedule, so rather than transcribe tape by hand — as she has done in the past — she signed up for Pop Up Archive. Continue reading