Michael Frisch:
“Oral History in the Digital Age”

On November 6th, Michael Frisch visited AU as the second presenter in the Humanity Truck Speaker Series. Drawing on his own recent work on the digital frontier, Professor Frisch discussed two contrasting directions towards a new oral and public history—approaches that can close the extensive distance between archived collections and meaningful public and community use.


The first is digital indexing of traditional long interviews, usually inaccessible as media and difficult to explore even when transcribed. Media Indexing provides a “map” of extensive collections, opening them to free exploration and flexible media access for anyone, within and across interviews.
The second is an alternative “short-form” oral history combining photographs and stories responding to them. Easily made and “crowdsourced” through new social media, these can be drawn together—like small tiles making up a “mosaic” –into a multimedia oral history of a family, group, or community.

Michael Frisch, University at Buffalo, works on oral/public history projects with community organizations, museums, and filmmakers.  Books include A Shared Authority (1990) and Portraits in Steel (1993), with photographer Milton Rogovin.  Editor of Oral History Review (1986-1996), he has been President of the American Studies Association (2000-2001), and Oral History Association (2009-2010).  In the last five years, his work in new oral history media technology was featured in master-classes or conference keynotes in Australia, China, Brazil, India, and Europe.

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