Reportback: What Will We Make Together?

What Will We Make Together? 
Oral History in a world of Interactivity, Social Media & Collaboration

September 20th, 2012

Featured Practitioners:  Housing is a Human Right Storytelling Project

The PSN videochat on September 20th was focused on how the field of oral history is being influenced by the increasing shift towards interactivity, collaboration and the use of social media, and how this shift influences the products we produce.

After brief introductions among the group, Rachel Falcone from Housing is a Human Right presented a little bit of the history of the Housing is a Human Right storytelling project and some of the ways that they have tried to gather additional stories in realms other than formal sit-down interviews–using social media, pop-up recording booths at exhibition spaces, and a toll-free phone number, for example. She also shared some of the ways they are sharing oral history stories with the public in new ways, including a mixtape project that brings together music contributions and personal testimonies  to create a pop-culture tool speaking to the human right to housing.

A group discussion followed and the conversation raised a number of incredibly interesting questions and themes, including ethical considerations that practicioners consider in trying to be more collaborative and interactive, and what constitutes “engaging”. Some of the questions highlighted that could be a part of future conversations as part of these monthly video conference calls include:

1) How do we present oral histories online in an engaging and interactive way? How do we keep online dialogue respectful to storytellers?

2) How do we give storytellers more agency in the project’s process?

3) What tools or methodologies are out there for crowd sourcing content?

Going forward, Rachel mentioned that she is interested in continuing to explore useful crowdsourcing tools and methodology, and another practitioner, Alisa, mentioned that she is working on developing a crowdsourcing project and would be willing to share how she is developing it.

As always, a rich conversation that really highlighted the need for these calls, and the space to continue answering these questions together.