Tag Archives: digital repository

Preserving Voices from the Past

Phone conversations of the past.

Just in the last month, the university has announced research achievements in areas as varied as digital neuroscopy, millennial socioeconomic demography, biofuel farming practices, new species discovery and engineering to improve physical therapy. It’s a testament to how much starts here that really does change the world that we are constantly moving on to the next discovery or innovation.

But the basis for these discoveries doesn’t just disappear into some massive warehouse never to be seen again. Especially in the age of digital preservation, even those materials that could easily have fallen victim to the ravages of time can now be reasonably saved for contemplation or further consideration at some point in the future.

Such is the case with a trove of audio recordings compiled by Communications professor Robert Hopper (1945-1998) documenting the most seemingly commonplace of activities — human conversation.

Over the span of decades, Hopper meticulously captured thousands of hours of person-to-person interactions, phone conversations and phone messages in an attempt to understand how we connect with each other in the most basic of ways.

Hopper’s research resulted in nine books, over sixty essays and numerous papers on the subject, but just as importantly, he left us with a sizable snapshot of how people shared space with each other during a particular era in which the telephone was a significant tool for conversation.

From voice to magnetic tape and now to a collection of ones and zeroes spread across time and distance, this information has been carefully preserved from its origination in the 20th century to today, and is available through the Libraries digital repository, Texas ScholarWorks, for anyone to access.

Established in 2008 as the University of Texas Digital Repository, Texas ScholarWorks was created to provide open, online access to the products of the University’s research and scholarship, preserve these works for future generations, promote new models of scholarly communication and deepen community understanding of the value of higher education.

Along with its recent renaming, the repository received a significant upgrade making it easier than ever to access, utilize and synthesize data and knowledge generated at UT for broadening our understanding of the world and of ourselves.

In such a way as to warrant a reconsideration of his work — made possible through endeavors like Texas ScholarWorks — Hopper presaged the increasing centrality of technology to the human experience in his 1992 book, Telephone Conversation:

“As citizens in the telephone age become increasingly summons-vulnerable, technical innovation transforms and constrains possibilities for speaking. In constructing summons and in answering them, we use resources already available in the speech community. But adaptation to this new medium alters communications patterns that are among our most priceless community resources. Ecological pollution may strike semiotic systems as well as air and water. We experiment on ourselves by using the telephone which may be the electronic medium that transforms its users the most thoroughly.”

The Libraries copy of Robert Hopper's "Telephone Conversation," inscribed by the author.

HRDI meets with Shoah Foundation

imageOn March 10-11, 2010 the UT Libraries Human Rights Documentation Initiative (HRDI) hosted a visit from the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education (SFI).

Best known for its extensive archive of 52,000 Holocaust survivor testimonies, the USC SFI continues to expand its programming to include testimonies from genocide survivors worldwide. Dr. Stephen Smith, Executive Director, Sam Gustman, Chief Technology Officer, and Karen Jungblut, Director of Research and Documentation, met with members of the HRDI team to discuss opportunities for collaboration on their respective projects in Rwanda as well as best practices for digital preservation and metadata exchange. Continue reading

UT Digital Repository ranked among the world’s top institutional repositories

TDL.org stacked logoThe UT Digital Repository received some welcome recognition recently when it was ranked #50 in the Ranking Web of World Repositories’ list of the top 400 institutional repositories worldwide. We are excited to see that the repository, which is less than two years old, is already among the best.

The Ranking Web of World Repositories is an initiative of the Cybermetrics Lab, a research group that is part of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), the largest public research body in Spain. The group creates the rankings, Continue reading