Transcription Thoughts

I began my transcription process at home in Richmond. I had no internet for some reason or another (I believe my brother had screwed up the internet while trying to connect his Playstation) and was not able to download the software recommended to us. Before I began I thought I was doomed. Luckily, I found the process rather relaxing. At first I had trouble pausing and switching back and forth between iTunes and word but quickly found that my Macbook offered tons of time saving innovations for the project; I won’t get into them as I will start to sound like an Apple spokesperson. Needless to say, I think previous experience doing data entry really helped me keep up with the recording for the most part. Occasionally I would find that I wasn’t sure how to punctuate certain phrases; there were lots of repeated phrases and “ums.” For these, I decided the best course of action was to leave the transcript as close to a literary dialogue as possible. I realize this removes some of the meaning behind the words but we lose that anyway shifting from spoken word to written. I feel the transcript is here more as a means of quoting for easy use in paper; anyone actually attempting to understand what is being said in the interview should probably listen to actual interview. I did have trouble understanding some of the phrases in the dialogue and for these instances I made it clear I did not understand the word or words, while leaving a suggestion as to what I thought was being said. I also left out ambient noise, such as a clock that went off in the middle of the interview. This would have merely distracted the reader instead of adding anything worthwhile to the readers understanding.

I legitimately enjoyed transcribing the interviews. It offered a nice change of pace from the regular reading analysis I have to do for most classes but still was engaging enough to be interesting.

3 Responses to “Transcription Thoughts”


  1. 1 dcpratt March 7, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    Your decision to get as close to a “literary dialogue” as possible caught my attention. It’s an interesting choice of words–what exactly do you mean by them? What gets changed when you edit a conversation (if that’s what an oral history interview is) so that it is more literary?

  2. 2 wscrowder March 7, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    I attempted to edit out any stammering as the interviewee or interviewer were searching for the correct words. Most literary dialogue keeps stammering to a minimum to accentuate the parts where stammering seemed the most important. I attempted to do the same thing, though I may have misinterpreted some of the stammers. However, I feel the transcription should be used merely as a way to quote the interview. If a researcher wishes to truly understand the interview, then he or she should actually listen to the interview.

  3. 3 sgglos March 12, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    I would actually love to hear about your MacBook sales pitch. What tricks did you utilize. I agree with your comment, the recording IS the document, yes? (a la Portelli)

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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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