In August 2010, the Council on Library and Information Resources and the Library of Congress issued a report titled The State of Recorded Sound Preservation in the United States: A National Legacy at Risk in the Digital Age. This report suggests that if scholars and students do not use sound archives, our cultural heritage institutions will not preserve them. Librarians and archivists need to know what scholars and students want to do with sound artifacts in order to make these collections more accessible; as well, scholars and students need to know what kinds of analysis are possible in an age of large, freely available collections and advanced computational analysis. To this end, the School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin and the Illinois Informatics Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have received an NEH Institutes in Advanced Technologies in the Digital Humanities grant to host two rounds of an NEH Institute on High Performance Sound Technologies for Access and Scholarship (HiPSTAS). Humanists interested in sound scholarship, stewards of sound collections, and computer scientists and technologists versed in computational analytics and visualizations of sound will develop more productive tools for advancing scholarship in spoken text audio if they learn together about current practices, if together they create new scholarship, and if they consider the needs, resources, and possibilities of developing a digital infrastructure for the study of sound together.
HiPSTAS Participants will include 20 humanities junior and senior faculty and advanced graduate students as well as librarians and archivists from across the U.S. interested in research in the spoken word within audio collections. The collections we will make available for participants include poetry from PennSound at the University of Pennsylvania, folklore from the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at UT Austin, speeches from the Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Presidential Museum in Austin, and storytelling from the Native American Projects (NAP) at the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia. Sound archivists from UT at Austin, computer scientists and technology developers from I3 at Illinois, and representatives from each of the participating collections will come together for the HiPSTAS Institute to discuss the collections, the work that researchers already do with audio cultural artifacts, and the work HiPSTAS participants can do with advanced computational analysis of sounds.
At the first four-day meeting (“A-Side”), held at the iSchool at UT in May 2013, participants will be introduced to essential issues that archivists, librarians, humanities scholars, and computer scientists and technologists face in understanding the nature of digital sound scholarship and the possibilities of building an infrastructure for enabling such scholarship. At this first meeting, participants will be introduced to advanced computational analytics such as clustering, classification, and visualizations. They will develop use cases for a year-long project in which they use advanced technologies to augment their research on sound. In the interim year, participants will meet virtually with the Institute Co-PI’s (Clement, Auvil, and Tcheng) and report periodically on their use cases and ongoing research within the developing environment. In the second year, the participants would return to the HiPSTAS institute for a two-day symposium (the “B-Side” meeting) at which they would report on their year of research. In this second event, the participants will present scholarship based on these new modes of inquiry and critique the tools and approaches they have tried during the development year. This second meeting will end with a daylong session in which the group drafts recommendations for implementing HiPSTAS as an open-source, freely available suite of tools for supporting scholarship on audio files.