Discover your inside story. Save 20% on Ancestry DNA April 21-26

January 4, 2013

Tools for Recording Life Stories

Recently Olive Tree Genealogy received this email from a reader. It's a great question for discussion!

This month my neighbor and I and one more friend are starting a genealogy club at the assisted living center in our town. We thought that we would begin by having each member of our club tell their personal story as we record it. I bought two digital recorders today but my sister suggested that we use Dragon Dictate. Would anyone have an opinion on this for me?

Recording and preserving life stories and memories is a wonderful idea. I think the digital recorders will work well but the group might also consider using a Smart Pen. With a Smart Pen you make jot notes in a special notebook.

The Pen not only records the person talking, but your jot notes allow you to touch a word on the paper and you get immediate playback. Later you simply plug your pen into your computer and transfer the recorded story or stories to your hard drive.

It's an amazing piece of technology and great for interviews as it is less intimidating than a recorder. I've written about using the Smart Pen if you care to read the articles:

Echo Smart Pen: Handy Tool for Genealogists

Capturing Memories Told By My 88 Year Old Aunt

 I'm not sure that Dragon Dictation would work well as it types as you speak.  It's a voice recognition program which is different from digital recorders. It requires editing the written text too. As well Dragon Dictation requires that you "speak" the punctuation you wish to insert. So if someone is speaking and you are using Dragon to record that person it will be a run on sentence with no punctuation.

Let's have my readers weigh in with their ideas and suggestions - what do you use?


Claudia said...

How would this work for copying notes at a lecture?

I just can not write fast enough when I take notes. I thought about typing but I can type what I hear either.

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Claudia - the beauty of the Smart Pen is that you are not taking notes. It is a recorder and it's recording the lecturer's voice.

You are only taking jot notes, think of it as writing down headings or titles for each "section" as the person is speaking.

When you touch the title (or heading) or brief point form note you made, the recording begins playing at that spot

That's why this is so good for students but also works well for genealogists.

Example: when I recorded my auntie using the Smart Pen, I made little "titles" as she spoke - such things as "Talking about Christmas" and "Remembering public school"

That enabled me to play back certain bits of the recording so I could listen or start transcribing them.

MrsD said...

I do not think Dragon would be good in this setting. Dragon works best if it is "trained" to the specific user's voice and way of speaking. Even when a user has trained the program, there are still a number of things which have to be edited. I would recommend either exploring the pen mentioned (that sounds VERY interesting) or sticking with digitally recording. You might want to consider videoing the speakers digitally for future researchers to view.

Dorothy said...

pen recorder is I think one of the best recording tools, however there are also recording tools out there that is as good as the recording pen.