• Campers

    William Cowan

    I work at the Institute for Digital Arts and Humanities at Indiana University. My undergraduate degree is in History and I went to graduate school in English and American Studies. I have been working with computers for over 20 years and with digital projects for the last 12 years.

    My Posts

    Notes from Annotator’s Workbench session

    Monday, March 22nd, 2010 | Will

    As promised here are some links for the Annotator’s workbench application.

    The AWB itself:

    Windows version:


    Mac version:


    Download and unzip where ever you want the AWB application. For Windows, I usually put a link to the awb.exe file on the desktop.

    If you are interested in using the automatically created web site, here is the link to the zip file:


    Unzip and then you need to move your Annotator’s Workbench .awx file to the root directory and move any movies you need to the video directory.

    See the readme file for more info on setting up the web pages.

    Finally, here is a link to a draft of the Annotator’s Workbench User’s Guide.


    For those interested in the Controlled Vocabulary tool contact me. I will help with setting up your CV for the AWB. It can get complicated.

    Questions? email me at wgcowan [at] indiana [dot] edu

    slashtmp, as its name implies, is temporary. These files get purged if not used. If you try a link and it doesn’t work, let me know and I can reload what you need.

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

    Monday, March 1st, 2010 | Will

    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.