Jason Puckett With great power comes great bibliography.


Zotero for organizing audio collections

Maybe this is obvious to everyone else who uses Zotero regularly, but I had sort of an a-ha moment yesterday afternoon with a student and I wanted to share the idea.

I was doing a Zotero consultation with a grad student in our school of social work, and in the course of conversation it came up that she's using a lot of personal interviews in her research. "Oh," I said, "I think there's an Interview reference type in Zotero if you need to cite them." It turns out that there is indeed.

So then I was showing her how to attach PDFs to article citations. "You know," I said, "you can attach other kinds of files too, like Word documents, or ... or MP3s. Hey! You could attach interview recordings, and then tag them with the interview subject's name and make them searchable." We got very excited at this point and I'm a little embarrassed at how geeky the whole thing was.

But I can think of several use cases for this. Obviously if you're in a discipline like social work, Zotero would give you an easy way to organize interviews. The Zotero metadata is probably friendlier to search than the native MP3/ID3 tags, and of course it can generate citations in ways that ID3 data can't do.

This would also be great for historians and digital archivists (like my wife) working with oral history material, especially with the forthcoming API that will publish from Zotero to the web via Omeka. EDIT: Combining it with Zotero Maps or the Timeline feature could be useful and/or cool.

The only drawback I can see is that a collection of MP3s would likely eat through the free 100 megs of storage space on the sync server very quickly, but storage is cheap.

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  1. Thanks to a collaborative effort with the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH), you’ll soon be able to annotate those audio recordings, too.

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