Books with Voices: Paper Transcripts as a Tangible Interface to Oral Histories

Scott R Klemmer, Jamey Graham, Gregory J. Wolff, James A Landay
CHI: ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 2003
Our contextual inquiry into the practices of oral historians unearthed a curious incongruity. While oral historians consider interview recordings a central historical artifact, these recordings sit unused after a written transcript is produced. We hypothesized that this is largely because books are more usable than recordings. Therefore, we created Books with Voices: bar-code augmented paper transcripts enabling fast, random access to digital video interviews on a PDA. We present quantitative results of an evaluation of this tangible interface with 13 participants. They found this lightweight, structured access to original recordings to offer substantial benefits with minimal overhead. Oral historians found a level of emotion in the video not available in the printed transcript. The video also helped readers clarify the text and observe nonverbal cues.


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