I'm a graduate student working on a rather ambitious multimedia project
here in Mexico City. I'm writing to ask for suggestions, advice,
ideas... on any aspect of the project... though ESPECIALLY re: what
software packages might be useful/available/appropriate, as well as the
entire software design/development/implementation process...
The project is still more or less in its infancy. It entails the
production of a DVD-ROM containing the following: - approx. 280 hours
of (audio) recording of interviews with participants in the Mexican
revolution (which took place at the beginning of this century) (The
audio will be stored in MPEG-3 format.) - the transcripts of those
interviews - scanned images of about 1200 historical documents from the
Mexican revolution - a sophisticated database program which will allow
complex searches on keywords and on words contained in the interviews
and the documents.
Essentially, the idea is to provide these original historical sources in
a format that's both accessible and useful to many people--including high
school students, TV and film producers, professional researchers--we
forsee a relatively wide audience. Up until now, these sources have
only been available to a select few, and in a non-searchable form. It
is believed that, of all the peasant rebellions in history, the Mexican
revolution is among the best-documented; and MUCH work remains to be
done with the mountains of documents that are out there.
In addition to the DVD-ROM, there is the idea of making the same content
available on the internet.
We are currently trying to find out if there are any ready-made
multimedia database packages which would be suitable to this project.
We're also trying to figure out how much it would cost to have someone
create the software application entirely or partly from scratch. As
this is a purely academic venture with quite a limited budget, we're
hoping that some companies or research institutes might be able to
donate software components, or at least provide them at reduced cost.
Following is a brief summary of the functions which the software MUST
- the encoding of text files (the transcripts of the interviews and
document summaries) with subject tags
- the creation of an index of all the words contained in the text files
- complex searching on the word and subject indexes--and hopefully the
combining of these two types of searches
- the ability to take into account certain subtlties of language when
performing searches--i.e., the linking of different forms of Spanish
verbs, of different possible spellings of Mexican place names, of
synonyms of the keywords used to encode the text, etc.
- the ability to reproduce specified segments of audio recorded in
MPEG-3 format, as well as the ability to display image files
These are the main functions which we've come up with thus far, though,
of course, we may have overlooked a few. Many people have suggested
designing a user interface using HTML, and that's the route we would
like to follow.
Again, we'd MUCH appreciate any ideas, advice, suggestions, you
have--whether regarding the project in general, the suitability of any
software you know of, use, or distribute, or any other sort of support
you might be able to provide.
Thanks a lot!
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P.S. If anyone's interested, I can send a more complete description of
P.P.S. If anyone out there also has information on what's the best
method for preserving audio documents (digitization, chemical treatment
of old magnetic tape, etc.) for as close to eternity as possible, please
let me know! We've been considering creating an archive of
un-compressed and un-cleaned-up audio (i.e., the plain audio, BEFORE the
background noise has been removed and BEFORE it's been converted to
MPEG-3 format) and saving it on recordable CDs. However, we're unsure
about the permanence of this medium.