By Steven Seidman
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13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. , 23. Ibid. , 39. Louis Starr, “Oral History,” in Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences, ed. , vol. 20 (New York: Marcel Dekker, 1977), 443. Alistair Thomson, “Four Paradigm Transformations in Oral History,” Oral History Review, 34(1) (2007): 68; Doug Boyd, “Achieving the Promise of Oral History in a Digital Age,” in The Oxford Handbook of Oral History, ed. php/digital_studies/article/view/173/215, accessed June 23, 2014; Michael Frisch, “Oral History and the Digital Revolution: Toward a Post-Documentary Sensibility,” in The Oral History Reader, ed.
Doug Boyd1 Background Thirty years ago, digital technology for oral history was in the “Baby Waiting Room” of most oral history programs, and the Internet wasn’t even a twinkle in the eye of the pioneering parents who would make it a universal portal to information. At the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), we stumbled onto digital technology for oral history under the false assumption that it would save us money and personnel in the long run, since retrieval, access, and storage could theoretically be done automatically, without human labor.
Digital technology can be a helpful tool to document context, to replicate the nuances of narrator presentations, to provide a comparative record of other tellings, and to provide multi-format supporting information, all in the same searchable and retrievable package. But technology, with its opportunities and constraints, can also take over our attention, and we can get carried away with the possibilities offered and lose track of the speakers and their narratives. That is the principal reason why, when we were starting to develop Project Jukebox, it was important for us to be very clear about what we wanted to preserve and present with digital technology, while at the same time recognizing what we might be losing in the process.