Transcription in Review

This assignment proved quite difficult because several people were speaking at the same time throughout the majority of my ten minute section.  In order to record everything that was said, I had to play the same section of tape three or four times, each time focusing my ears to hear only one of the voices.  Then I faced another problem: if three people are speaking at once, which comments do you place first in the order of the transcript?  I solved this problem by first writing the full comment of whichever speaker started speaking first.  Then I would include the full comment of whoever started speaking second and so on.  If I had simply written all the words exactly in the order that they were spoken on the tape, it would be very difficult to understand what any of the interviewees were saying.

Additionally, I was frustrated by the interview techniques of the WDP students during this portion of the recording.  The interviewers had a very hand-off method, perhaps a little too hands-off.  I think the interview could have been much more successful if the interviewers had provided the interviewees with a little more structure.  At times, it seemed like the interviewers were too nervous and shy to even ask questions or take advantage of breaks in conversation in order to bring up new topics.  Furthermore, I felt that the language used by the interviewers was too disjointed, characterized by many fragmented sentences and incomplete thoughts.  I think it would have been better if comments and questions were better formulated in the interviewers’ minds before he or she spoke.  Additionally, one of the interviewers called Williamsburg a sleepy little town, which seemed to offend some of the interviewees.  Care should be taken to avoid causing offense.


The Williamsburg Documentary Project (WDP) strives to collect and preserve the rich past of Williamsburg, Virginia. By conducting oral history interviews, building physical and digital archives, and creating online exhibits, the WDP interprets Williamsburg’s recent past. The WDP works towards developing a better understanding of Williamsburg by bringing together individuals, local groups, Colonial Williamsburg, and the College of William & Mary.

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