Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Integration of Audio, Video, Photographic and Text Files in Genealogy Files

It is fairly simple to create a text file on a computer with a keyboard. There are any number of programs that will assist you in creating such a file from free simple text editors available in all the major operating systems to expensive multi-featured word processing programs. When you start to move towards incorporating audio, video and image files into your computer, you start to climb up the steep technological curve. Editing a text file is relatively simple. Editing digitized photographic images is a little more complicated. Editing a video file is far more technical and editing audio files gets into a specialized world filled with jargon and specialized devices.

When I write about "editing," I do not mean simply digitizing an image or making an audio recording with a tablet or smartphone, I mean manipulating the image or sounds to alter the original. Now recording interviews of relatives, even video interviews, have been around for quite a while, but the ability to edit these files was previously beyond the reach of the casual user. What has changed is the convergence of multi-use devices such as tablet computers that can be used to take digital images, make video recordings, record conversations and enter text.  However, the product of these various functions would be considered "raw."

Why is all this relevant to genealogy? My guess is that the software programs and online services dedicated to genealogy will shortly begin to incorporate more than text and images. It seems natural that they would expand to allow both video and audio files to be uploaded. Even if this does not occur immediately, there are still ample opportunities online already for sharing both types of files.

The two main obstacles are at the opposite ends of the production. As I have already mentioned, the processes currently involved in editing video and audio files are well beyond the purview of the average computer user although both types of software and hardware are readily available and not too expensive. But adding these types of files will increase an already steep learning curve for the users of these online programs. At the other end of the production is the need to store these files. Any online program that wants to add the capability of uploading audio and video files, will of necessity have to have a massive storage capability.

Despite the difficulties involved in handling audio and video files, I am certain that these capabilities will be coming into the market in the near future.

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