Interactive Transcripts

An interactive transcript allows viewers to click text to navigate video, and to copy text to get a sentence-level link along with the text. Share what you copied and it takes just one click to hear the quote in context.

The InSite system

As lead researcher for the Rutherfurd Living History program at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy I led development of the InSite system, which is a workflow for recording, transcribing and organizing interviews, and an open-source system for publishing interactive transcripts. The publishing system also allows readers to share quote lists. Each quote includes a direct link to that quote in the video. The system also allows publishers to annotate interviews and build annotated timelines. The InSite system is implemented on the Rutherfurd Living History site.

I also helped PBS Frontline implement a similar system and enable interactive versions of source transcripts, and source transcripts connected to video, and in a couple of cases the documentaries themselves. The interactive source transcripts allow anyone to share source material, including video, at the sentence level. For The Putin Files project we made interactive text or text-video transcripts of 56 source interviews – 70 hours-worth – from Putin’s Revenge. The interactive versions of the documentaries allow viewers to see quotes from the documentary in the full context of the original interview. There’s an interactive version of The Facebook Dilemma and 29 interactive text and text-video source interviews, and an interactive version of Trump’s Showdown with 32 interactive text source interviews. Most recently we enabled 39 interactive interviews for Supreme Revenge and 38 interactive interviews for Zero Tolerance, all of them available at the same time as the film debut.

Here are a couple of shareable quotes from the Rutherfurd Living History archives:

The first one is from a 2016 interview from the Civil Rights collection. Voting rights activist Armenta Eaton is remembering her childhood:

And I would try to sit up, watch for any suspicious activities, and then maybe 7 o’clock, 6 o’clock in the morning, I would lay my weapon down, take my bag, get dressed for school and go to school. And half the time, I would be in school, just about to fall out of my chair. Because I was sleepy you know.
http://livinghistory.sanford.duke.edu/interviews/armenta-eaton/#682

This one is from a 1981 interview from the Vietnam and the Cold War collection. Dean Rusk, US Secretary of State from 1961-1969, said this about World War II:

We reached a point where we realized that we had to get the war over with before the very institutions of our society melted out from under us and we could no longer sustain the war effort.
http://livinghistory.sanford.duke.edu/interviews/dean-rusk-part-1/#3011

And here are a couple of insights about Putin from The Putin Files interactive transcripts on the PBS Frontline site:

He is a man who is obsessed with TV. He watches tapes of the evening news over and over and over again to see how he’s portrayed, to see how he looks.
https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/interview/julia-ioffe/#1112

What Putin did when he came in was said: “OK, I’ve got a different project. We’re going to make”—if you will, to coin a phrase–“I’m going to make Russia great again”.
https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/interview/james-collins/#207

Anyone can share any excerpt from any interview in the Living History collections or any of the 117 source interviews from the three Frontline documentaries: select an excerpt, click to copy (or click the Facebook or Twitter icon to share on social media) and you get the excerpt you selected plus a link that goes directly to that excerpt. Use the direct link in a story to enable viewers to see a quote in context.

Here’s more information about the technology and the thinking behind it:

I Annotate 2018 talk: The InSite System: Enabling Transparency with Searchable, Shareable Interactive Transcripts (PDF, Slides)

The InSite documents:

Our Research – An overview of the InSite system

The Interview: A Report – How we got there, including the logic behind the system

InSite: A Guide – A guide for recording, transcribing and publishing interviews

Technology to Watch – Technologies that may eventually be used for preparing or publishing interactive interviews

Colophon – The software that’s used to publish interactive transcripts on the Rutherfurd site

The InSite documents are all published as interactive text. If you select an excerpt you can copy the excerpt plus a link right to that excerpt.

Here are some examples:

From the report:
Here’s what we learned in our interviews with 45 journalists who span a wide range of ages and work for major US newspapers, magazines, online publications, television and radio stations.
http://livinghistory.sanford.duke.edu/interactives/the-interview-a-report/#71

From the guide:
Update: FRONTLINE more closely adapted the InSite system to publish the Putin Files, which are interactive transcripts of the 70 hours of source interviews conducted for the November, 2017 documentary Putin’s Revenge.
http://livinghistory.sanford.duke.edu/interactives/insite-a-guide-for-recording-transcribing-and-publishing-interviews/#241

From Technology to Watch:
There are three particularly tricky steps: transcribing audio into an accurate transcript, connecting the transcript at the sentence level to timecodes in the audio/video, and keeping this connection in the published version.
http://livinghistory.sanford.duke.edu/interactives/technology-to-watch/#4