• Using Digital Video for Research and Community Archiving – Getting Beyond YouTube: Segmenting, Annotating and Archiving Digital Video Using the Annotator’s Workbench

    The Annotator’s Workbench is an open source application developed at Indiana University for the segmentation and annotation of digital video. This tool was originally developed to support the Ethnographic Video for Instruction and Analysis Digital Archive, a multi-year grant from the Mellon Foundation to Indiana University and the University of Michigan to create online access to hundreds of hours of field work done by ethnographers from around the world. Since the completion of the grant, we have found that the technologies developed to support the EVIADA Project can be applied to many different and diverse projects.

    Annotator's Workbench in Use

    Annotator's Workbench in Use on Ethnographic Field Video

    We have worked successfully with the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University and the Central American and Mexican Video Archive (CAMVA) to adapt the Annotator’s Workbench to their projects. We are currently working with Archives of Historical and Ethnographic Yiddish Memories (AHEYM) to preserve and annotate oral histories collected from Yiddish-speaking residents of Eastern Europe and make the material available to scholars, educators and the public. In additon we are working on another Mellon grant on Ethnomusicology Multimedia (EM), a collaborative series of first books in ethnomusicology to be accompanied by a Web-based platform for hosting audio and video materials integral to the authors’ research, published by Indiana University Press, Kent State University Press and Temple University Press. This presentation will discuss the Annotator’s Workbench and surrounding technology and how it has been used and can be used in a variety of digital video based projects.

    But the use of the Annotator’s Workbench or any other tool is just the starting point. Using digital video for research and scholarship is still an open issue and the exact place of this type of scholarship in the academy has yet to be decided.

    How can we take a medium like video and make it more than just accessible but also provide metadata, rich content, insight and academic rigor? What does it mean to peer-review such content? How should it be distrubuted? Who and what kinds of access should be given to this material? What about intellectual property? What about copyright?

    How do we make video part of the classroom? part of research? part of publication? part of the scholarly process?

    Some additional thoughts occurred to me as I responded to a comment. One possible use of this tool, the Annotator’s Workbench, a digital video segmentation and annotation tool, is for what could be called Community Archiving. Basically, I see the process of community archiving as an historical tool, a pedagogical tool and a community building tool. For instance, distribute digital video cameras and recorders to, for instance, a high school class and send them out into their community to record what ever interests them (of course you could have them focus more if you wanted). Segment and annotate the result. Use Omeka or build your own web pages and web site. Allow comments from the community. Perhaps even uploads of video or audio. The process of creating this web site and the web site itself would be good for the students and the community. Depending on the interest of those present, I will probably focus more on the concept of using a tool, such as the Annotator’s Workbench, for community archiving.

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  1. greenshade says:

    Sounds exciting! The 9/11 Memorial Museum collects a fair amount of video content and currently uses CollectiveAccess, our collections management platform, to time-stamp and annotate it. However, we’re always looking for more sophisticated methods.

  2. Sounds interesting to me as well. How about being more interactive not only with students, but also with various stakeholders – public writ large? We are working with many different publics and collecting oral histories, and are trying to figure out ways to integrate them into research and teaching, but also make videos and data accessible to the public. As archaeologists, geospatial techniques help us do that, but I’m interested in how Workbench works and may help us do this more effectively?

  3. Will says:

    Although not in the original project at all, one idea that I keep having about AWB is to use it to do “community archiving”. Lend Digital video cameras and recorders to say a high school class or a community center. Let them loose on the community taping and talking to people, showing stores and other places in the community. Use AWB to segment, annotate and give web access. Integrate with Omeka or some other such tool and you have an online video / audio archive of a community.

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