How to use SayIt to store interviews from your research project

Jenni Murray by Steve BowbrickOur free, open source software SayIt is primarily designed for making and publishing transcripts of meetings – but it can also be very useful for anyone who needs to store interviews or other collections of the spoken word.

When interviews are stored in SayIt, not only are they accessible in an easy, attractive format – but you can also search, browse by speaker or chronologically, and share snippets with colleagues or peers.

We can see SayIt being of use to oral historians, researchers, people who conduct focus groups – and doubtless there are many more potential uses too.

In this post, I am going to walk through the process of setting up your own SayIt site, and publishing some interviews.

I haven’t got any interviews I’ve conducted recently, but I have got a book of interviews right here, so I’ll use that as an example. Note that this is copyrighted material, which I am using purely for the sake of an example. In these small quantities, that’s fine, but of course we recommend that you only use your own material, or content that is in the public domain.

If you’d like to follow along, you’ll need a transcript of one or more interviews. It should take less than half an hour to get started, and fully understand how SayIt can help you.

1. Sign up

Begin by going to this page.

Sayit sign-up

You’ll need to input:

  • A portion of the URL (web address) – choose a word or phrase that relates to your topic: it needs to be lower case and without spaces or irregular characters (ie, just letters and numbers). Unfortunately for the grammatically correct, this means my chosen ‘womanshour’ can’t have an apostrophe!
  • A title – keep it short; this will go on the top bar of every page of your site.
  • A description – again, not too long; this will sit next to the title on every page.

Don’t worry too much about the title and description, though: you can go back and edit them at any time in the future.

signup for SayIt, part 2

In part 2 of the sign-up process, input an email address, choose a username and pick a password. We’ll send an automated message to your email which you click to confirm your account.

Or, if you have a Twitter account, you can link your SayIt account to that, avoiding the confirmation step.

You’ll only have to go through this sign-up phase one time: once you have an account, you can start any number of new SayIt sites without signing up again.

Step 2: Start adding your interviews

Click on any of the screenshots if you’d like to see them bigger.

Start adding speeches on SayItWe’re going to add interviews a statement at a time. For the purposes of inputting interviews into SayIt, we regard a ‘statement’ as each turn someone takes in speaking.

Type or copy and paste the first statement into the ‘text’ box.

Adding a speech to SayItThen fill in as many details as are appropriate in the surrounding fields. SayIt uses this information to arrange your interviews in a useful way, as you’ll see later.

Speaker: The name of the person speaking

Section: You might use this to allocate specific interviews or sessions. Sections are particularly useful if you are transcribing interviews, in ways that you’ll see shortly.

Source URL: For this type of usage, you probably don’t need this – it is useful when your material comes from a website.

Date and time: You can input a date if you don’t know the time, and vice-versa. Or, if you don’t know the time, leave this blank and SayIt will organise your statements in the order you input them.

Event and location: If these details are of importance, add them.

Title and tags: This allows you to add descriptive words to your statements which may help you find all statements on a certain theme, for example.

All fields are optional, and you can go back and edit them later if you want to. When you’ve finished, click ‘Save speech’.

A saved speech on SayIt3. Add some more, and see what happens

Then click on ‘add another speech’ and paste in the next statement in your interview.

If you’ve filled in the ‘section’ field, SayIt will start doing clever things: arranging all your statements within their own section, and predicting the speaker and date fields so you don’t have to input that information for every statement (you can overwrite these if SayIt makes a wrong assumption, though).

Here’s my section called ‘Betty Boothroyd interview’:

Speeches within a section on SayIt

It arranges the conversation in an easy-to-read format. By clicking on any of the speaker’s names, I can see every statement allocated to them:

One person's speeches on SayIt– and what’s more, I can search just this person’s statements, or the whole of my SayIt site.

I went on to add several more interviews, giving each one its own section – if I click on the ‘Speeches’ link at the top of the page, I can see them neatly arranged:

Sections on SayItWhile on the speaker’s page, I can see every person whose statements I’ve added:

Speakers on SayIt

And the homepage is keeping count of how many speakers, speeches and sections there are:

homepage of a SayIt instance

4.Get help

For big projects, it makes sense to collaborate! Click on the button marked ‘invite some friends to help you’ on the speech input page, and you’ll be able to send emails that invite your associates to log in and join you.

5. Other options

In this walk-through, we’ve looked at how to manually import your interviews, on a site that is hosted by us. More advanced users may wish to look at bulk imports, and/or hosting their own SayIt site.

Both will soon be possible – get in touch if you’d like to know more.

And that’s it

I hope I have demonstrated how useful SayIt can be for storing interviews. Please do let us know if you have a go. We’d love to find out what projects it’s being used for – and your suggestions for new features will be very useful in helping us decide priorities for development.

Other ways to use SayIt

See our posts on:

Using SayIt to publish transcripts of meetings

Using SayIt to make collections of statements

Coming soon:

– Collaborating with others on SayIt

Jenni Murray image by Steve Bowbrick (CC)