I’ve been getting increasingly interested in oral history over the past few years, and I recently discovered a program that makes working with oral histories SO MUCH EASIER! It’s called Transcriva. I’m amazed that I ever tried to use any other system for listening to and transcribing, annotating, or taking notes on interviews . I was a little wary at first, because it costs $30.00, but they let you play around with the very limited free version and I decided to spring for it because I was so frustrated with the inadequacies of the system I was using before (word processor + itunes = no fun). I’m very glad I did. Disclaimer: I think it might only be available for Macs.
It’s not a complicated program, so I was able to start using it quickly. To begin with, you link the transcript file to a audio file on your computer or hard drive (or online, but I haven’t tried that yet). Then you can assign different speakers, who each have their own shortcut keys to facilitate switching between speakers. You make new entries in the transcript by pressing “enter” or by using a new speakers’ shortcut key. There is also short cut keys to move backward or forward or to pause the audio. You can slow down or speed up the listening speed. And then, once you have transcribed or annotated your stuff, you can easily jump to different points in the interview in both the audio or the text. Over all it just streamlines the whole process and makes it much quicker, more intuitive and more manageable. I don’t dread transcription as much as I used to. It’s even kind of fun now.
There are other features I haven’t taken advantage of yet. Apparently you can record audio files directly into Transcriva, and you can link your transcripts to online content as well. You can also export the transcripts as text files, perserving the speakers and the timestamps of your notes.
In sum, if you are working with audio files or interviews for your research I would strongly suggest you check out Transcriva!