OHMS — 03 June 2014

Typical archival institutions are delivering oral history collections online using repository systems that fail to accommodate oral history’s complex, multidimensional nature. As a result, the majority of interviews being posted online provide challenging user experiences. I created OHMS (Oral History Metadata Synchronizer) back in 2008 to connect a textual search of a transcript to the corresponding moment in the online interview. A few years ago, we added the Indexing Module to the OHMS experience. Using the OHMS application, you can create segments containing a title, partial transcript, synopsis, keywords, subjects, hyperlinks and GPS coordinates. The OHMS Indexing Module empowers an archive to provide enhanced access to oral history without the cost of a transcript. The Nunn Center is indexing interviews for a fraction of the cost of transcription, but advantages of indexing amount to more than simple cost savings. Someone can speak for three hours about living under segregation, without ever mentioning the word “segregation.” A keyword search of a transcript would prove ineffective, whereas a index of the same content could contain the title “Living under segregation.”  To learn more about OHMS or to get started using OHMS, visit the OHMS website at http://www.oralhistoryonline.org.

Zahn-ohmsIn designing OHMS, I strived for interoperability, compatibility and sustainability.  OHMS was created using open source technologies, it is freely available, and the OHMS Viewer works with any content management system.  It is simple to implement, simple to use and provides your online users an incredible user experience.  Recently we have upgraded OHMS to include YouTube compatibility, in addition to numerous additional features.

Here is an  interview that is a good example of an OHMS Index using YouTube to deliver the video. It is an interview I conducted with actor Steve Zahn for our From Combat to Kentucky Oral History Project, discussing his involvement with and support for veterans.

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Douglas A. Boyd

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