Now recording: Knight funds an app for collecting oral histories

Design studio TKOH will use its Knight News Challenge award to complete a prototype and run pilot testing.

By Justin Ellis

Most friends and family have oral histories — they just don’t realize it. That time as a kid your uncle ate so many waffles he cried? Or the time your best friends had to break into their apartment so they could move out? But what’s the best way to capture those stories — break out the recorder on your phone? Shoot a video? Write it all down?

Knight News Challenge winner TKOH wants to create a solution for oral storytelling that would work for kids, grandparents, audiophiles — or, yes, journalists. As envisioned, it would be a lightweight app for mobile devices that makes the setup and recording of stories simpler. TKOH, a design studio based in New York, plans to use its $330,000 award from Knight Foundation to build out its prototype of the app and begin testing it in rural communities in New Mexico.

“It’s a need we all have,” Kacie Kinzer, of TKOH, tells me. “There’s someone we know, a friend, a family member, who has incredible stories that must be kept in some way.

Kinzer, an interactive artist and designer, said she created an early predecessor to the app a few years ago to capture some of the stories from her relatives at family gatherings. Kinzer said she and cofounders Tom Gerhardt and Caroline Oh wanted to expand on the idea to make an app that would be intuitive enough for anyone to pick up and start using, whether old or young.

Read more at NiemanLab.org

 

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.