Sunday at Jamboree 2007 – Susan Kitchens

Susan Kitchens attended the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree as an exhibitor, showing attendees how to record oral family histories using digital tools.

Susan Kitchens at Jamboree 2007

Susan Kitchens and Her Mother at Jamboree 2007

Susan is a prolific blogger who maintains at least three blogs: family oral history using digital tools, 2020 Hindsight, and AuntiAlias & Associates.

One of Susan’s recent blog articles from 13 Jun 2007 talks about an exercise to spot the fake smile. I tried to spot the fake smiles and came up with a score of 10 out of 20 correct. That means I did no better than I would have done by randomly guessing. Susan, herself, scored 17 correct, and Jasia of Creative Gene scored 16 correct.

I’ve been reading Susan’s blogs for a while and if there’s anyone who is qualified to demonstrate how to use digital tools to record oral family history, it’s Susan.

Back in March, I read Susan’s blog entitled Have a video iPod? Get a Belkin TuneTalk. I’d been thinking for a while about buying an iPod so I could listen to podcasts without having to burn the podcast to CD, but I couldn’t justify the purchase just to listen to podcasts more conveniently. After reading Susan’s article, I suddenly had another reason to get an iPod.

When I visit my family, I often interview them about their lives and those of their ancestors. Up until now, I’ve just scribbled everything down in longhand, hoping I recorded everything accurately. I’ve thought about buying a digital audio recorder, but the ones in which I’m most interested are rather pricey. I’ve thought about buying a digital video camera, but I’m not crazy about lugging a digital video camera around with me as I’m flying from coast to coast and from house to house as I visit relatives.

An iPod accessorized with a Belkin TuneTalk seems to be a great option for me. I could carry the iPod and TuneTalk with me in my pocket, and it would always ready for me to use wherever I am.

And so, I recently purchased an iPod Video and, today, I purchased a Belkin TuneTalk. I’ll play with it a bit in the next couple of weeks so I’ll be able to use it confidently during my trip to visit family on the East Coast in July. I also bought a DLO TransPod so I can listen to the content on my iPod through the stereo in my car. So far, everything seems to be working well.

But I’m supposed to be writing about Susan Kitchens, here, not about myself!

Susan is gracious, gregarious, knowledgeable, and genuinely helpful. I was able to speak with her for a while at Jamboree, although she was so busy with the mobs of people at her booth that I actually spent more time talking to her mother!

Susan showed people at her booth the Belkin TuneTalk, but she didn’t have an iPod Video with which to demonstrate. Luckily, I had my iPod Video with me, so I offered the iPod to Susan to demonstrate TuneTalk. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the recording. The TuneTalk records in stereo, can be used with any line-level input such as an external amplified microphone, and has an auto-gain switch to optimize most recording situations. The auto-gain switch should be turned off when using an external amplified microphone or when recording in loud situations.

Susan pointed out that the TuneTalk employs omni directional microphones, and so is not ideal in an environment with a lot of background noise, such as a trade show. Indeed, while the quality of the recording was excellent, I could hear not only Susan and the woman she was interviewing, but I could also hear the voices of everyone else nearby.

Susan also demonstrated recording oral family history using a different setup with directional microphones, in which case the voices of the interviewer and the person being interviewed are isolated from the ambient noise. Quite nice!

Well, I’m now all set to start recording oral family histories in July. Thanks for your advice and help with this, Susan! And it was great to meet you and your Mom!

Copyright © 2007 by Stephen J. Danko

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4 Responses to Sunday at Jamboree 2007 – Susan Kitchens

  1. Hey Steve! Still catching up on sleep? (BTW, excellent job as The Prolific Jamboree blogger!). Er, Um, “Recent” and “July 13″ shouldn’t be used in the same sentence for another month. Eek! Hate to be the bearer of bad news.

    Very glad to meet you, bummed we didn’t get to talk more. Glad that the mention of the TuneTalk makes for such a good solution for you. Thanks for extra notes about how it works. I was given the TuneTalk by the folks at Belkin; but I have no iPod to use it with. Will eventually (at least) borrow one so I can do my own tests and notes about how it works.



  2. Jasia says:

    Hey Steve, I have a video iPod and a device similar to Tune Talk (mine is the Griffin iTalk) and I love it. I’ve used it several times for interviews and the result is great! Another great use is recording your own thoughts for posterity. And of course you can always make a podcast and share it with us all!

  3. Susan, Thanks for the correction! Does this mean I’m living in the future? I’ve felt for some time that I really need an editor for this blog!

    Jasia, Hmm… recording my thoughts for posterity – I hadn’t really thought of recording my own voice for posterity, but when you think about it, I would love to have a voice recording of ANY of my relatives. Wouldn’t it have been great if our grandparents left us voice recordings? One of my cousins made a lot of recordings (including recordings of my sisters and me when we were very young) in the late 1950s and early 1960s on a reel-to-reel tape recorder. When I asked him what became of those recordings, he told me he dumped them.

  4. reel to reel recordings dumped…. oh, the agony!

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