The fascists keep killing my grandfather: Oral history archiving and

Report
Voices and the Archive:
Oral History, Research and Researchers

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Wednesday, 20th November 2013
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Public archives making more and more material available
o See Oral History Collections Online
http://wiki.ohda.matrix.msu.edu/index.php/Sites
• Lists 379+ archives with recordings available on-line
• Last updated 13 November 2013
o E.g. British Library http://sounds.bl.uk/Oral-history
• Thousands of interviews on-line


See Rob Perks (2009) on the unstoppable rise of oral
histories published on-line and Mary Stewart (2010) on the
‘biography’ of the oral history archive
But there is more… Web.2.0
o Online oral history + Blogs + Discussion boards + Mash-ups
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What lives beyond the archive?

Public archives
o E.g Imperial War Museum
http://www.iwm.org.uk/co
llections/item/object/800
19729 c. 14 mins 54 secs

Commercial
o Video games industry

Antiquarian/Individual
Public
institutions
Commercial
Other
sources
o Subject group driven
• Hobbyists
• Ideologues
Hobbyists
etc.
Antiquarian

Oral historians generally positive about oral history and Web 1.0;
Web 2.0 etc.
o Access – curating for a user centered approach (Frisch, 2013)
o Extending shared authority into interpretation (High, 2009)
o Breaking down boundaries and innovation (Boyd, 2013)
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Continuing questions about ‘raw’ and ‘cooked’ (see Frisch and
Lambert, 2010)
Linking to other debates e.g. reuse (Bornat, various)
Some concerns
o Ethics (Perks, 2009) Larson, 2013)
o Progressive narratives of reaking boundaries are suspect (Edgerton,
2008)

However…
o Our memories (and histories) are ‘mediated’ by the digital world (van
Dijck, 2007)
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
00.36 hours on 30 May, 1941, 25 miles west by south of
St. Vincent, Cape Verde Islands, British merchant ship
Silveryew, 6,373 tons, was torpedoed by a German U-Boat
(U-106).
Silveryew sank with ‘one European and two Chinese’
reported as missing.
o British Naval Intelligence, Weekly Intelligence Report (WIR), 6 June
194, no. 65, p. 17 NAA.007.0125
Biographical
• Interview with my father
(sup. unpublished
biography of his father)
• Interviews with Jürgen
Oesten
• Videos by video gamers
• Other interviews
Public
Histories
• Books
Antiquaria
• Commemorators
• Sharkhunters US
• Millitary/religious
UK
Commercial
Gamers
Historians
Hobbyists
Digital
Antiquarians
Commemorators
Fascists
Political
IWM interview with merchant seamen
 Extracts of my father’s interview posted on
SoundCloud
 Extracts of Jürgen Oesten’s interviews

‘Full’
o Ubisoft on YouTube plus…
o Sharkhunters DVD 60 with extracts on YouTube
 Unwitting
(oral) biographies of gamers
 Interviews from publications

With bitterness, he writes:
o It is worthwhile recording here the poor treatment merchant
seamen received when their ships were sunk in wartime. Still
classed as civilians all pay was stopped from the date of the sinking
and no leave was granted. Even to return to their home meant
meeting the cost themselves or depending on help from the
Seamen's Missions.
o As my father had paid into a superannuation fund my mother
received a pension of £3.10s in 1941 and no other Government
help to bring up a family. On her death in 1957 she was still
receiving £3.10s.

Speaks about:
o Loss of childhood
o Downward mobility

And inaccuracy
o He always insisted that MV Silveryew was in convoy
 Ubisoft
(and
Sharkhunters) videos
o Content driven (how
to…)
• Use thermal currents
• Attack at night
o Self justifying and
depoliticised
•
•
•
•
A professional job
War is hell
‘Nothing personal’
Friends with the enemy
 Fictive,
e.g. Dize
‘Engineer’ from
Hamburg who in his
virtual world reported
on a discussion board
that he had on ‘05 Aug
1941 sunk the
Silveryew (Medium
Cargo), 5636 tons’.
o http://www.subsim.com
/radioroom/showthread
.php?t=91447
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Non-fictive: Effing Controller

https://www.youtube.com/watch?
v=V1nSSN6dAW8&feature=youtu
be_gdata
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Fascists (Sharkhunters)
... Sharkhunters president
Harry Cooper, 69.. claimed
to be an expert on German
U-boat submarines and
said of their crews: “I
thought these guys were
decent and honourable
kids. They don’t deserve
history to look down on
them.”
(Harvey, O. Frail war vets...,
The Sun, 2006).

Poppyists (Tower Hill)
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Digital antiquarians
o http://uboat.net/allies/
merchants/ships/954.ht
ml
o http://www.wrecksite.eu
/wreck.aspx?58337
o Blogs and discussion
boards in Spanish,
French, English…

The Reading 70th
Anniversary Service
Tower Hill, May 2013
o Roger Hoefling gives a
reading beginning with
the account of the
sinking of MV Silveryew
is from 'The Real Cruel
Sea' by Richard
Woodman
o http://www.benjidog.co
.uk/Tower%20Hill/Cere
monies.html
 Lack
of publishing chain
 The path of plagiarism amongst antiquarians
o Repetition of false information from Wreck site to
Wikipedia
 Permanency,
e.g. YouTube video of Oesten
describing U-106 attack on HMS Malaya removed
November 2013
 Missing history e.g. political impact of U-Boats
 New ways of working
o collaborative working e.g. Mozilla popcorn
o cross referencing
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On-line v not on-line
General searching v. searching within sites
Challenges of finding and using materials
o Audio v. Video
• Video privileged (easier to find) e.g. Google video
• YouTube, Vimeo, blinkx
• Audio search engines
• Specialist (e.g. Sound effects; Podcasts; Music)
• Yahoo Audio Search defunct?
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Open access v. copyright
Communities of interest (thought collectives) generating
visibility and duplicating material and interpretation
https://popcorn.webmaker.org/
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Epistemological
o How does oral history on-line shape perceptions of the
past?
o Political: More history or No history?
Ethical
o What is fair and unfair reuse?
o How do we address inaccuracy and misrepresentation?
Curatorial
o No-one can gate keep the web (not even David Cameron)
o How to engage users in indexing?
o Is crowd sourcing the answer? And ‘open access’ to
what?
 Digital
oral history = Oral history without aim (yet
again) and without end?
 Understanding web thought collectives
 The role of the archivist
o Making connections or living in splendid isolation?
• Meta tag cross indexing?
o Facilitating accuracy?
o Providing historical context?
 The
role of micro studies as well as macro surveys

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