Preserving family history by using your smartphone

Published: Monday, April 1 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

It's natural to use special recording devices to preserve your family history, but with today's technology extra devices become unnecessary.

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SALT LAKE CITY — It's natural to use special recording devices to preserve your family history, but with today's technology, extra devices become unnecessary. You can use a tool that's already in your pocket to record interviews.

That was the topic of Susan A. Kitchens' session titled "Recording and Preserving Family Stories Using Your iOS and Android Device" at the RootsTech genealogy conference on March 21 at the Salt Palace Convention Center.

Kitchens is an author and digital Renaissance woman who has won the Computer Press Award. She runs a website, "Family Oral History Using Digital Tools," to document tools and techniques for recording, processing and preserving family stories.

According to Kitchens, there are two mindsets on conducting an interview. One is to think like an interviewer, to focus on the interaction between questions and answers and getting the interviewee to talk. The second is to think like an audio engineer, to manage your recording equipment and ensure a smooth operation while conducting an interview.

The session focused on the audio engineering mindset of recording interviews, including a discussion on the necessary equipment, recording apps and preparation.

Equipment

Kitchens began with a discussion on microphones suitable for iOS and Android devices. For iOS devices, she recommended the Blue MIKEY, IK Multimedia, Tascam and RODE brands. For Android devices, she suggested the Edutige EIM-001. "A microphone is one of those things that you get what you pay for," said Kitchens.

According to Kitchens, there are several applications for iOS and Android devices, but the best ones for digital recordings are those put out by the microphone manufacturers. For iOS devices, she recommended the RODE Rec LE, but also suggested the iRig Recording and Blue FiRe recorder. For Android devices, she recommended Easyvoice Recorder.

Conducting the interview

According to Kitchens, there are a series of preliminary steps you should take before conducting your interview. The day before your interview, configure your device to record in the WAV file format (CD quality), do a test recording and listen to it. Then, make sure you have enough empty space and charge the battery.

"Your absolute minimum is to make sure you get enough space available for at least four hours of recording. You can never have too much space," said Kitchens.

Finally, just before the interview, turn your phone to airplane mode if you're using one, and turn Wi-Fi off.

"You don't want any of that because your attention is on the person you're talking with and you want no interruptions," said Kitchens.

For more information on using iOS and Adroid devices to record interviews and how to conduct interviews, visit Kitchens' website at www.familyoralhistory.us.

Email: ajones@desnews.com

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