Imagine this scenario: You’re researching, and you have 20 scientific papers to comb through. How do you find the parts of each one that are relevant?
In today’s tech-assisted world, you probably just open them and use the Control-F function to find keywords so you can move through them faster. What if part of your research also includes watching interviews?
You probably don’t have a great way of homing in on the germane parts of a video, but Bondurant resident Chris Lacinak’s newest project could help. It’s called Aviary and is an audio and video transcription service that makes such content searchable.
“Aviary brings the Command-F function to AV content,” Lacinak said. “Searching around hundreds of hours of video is impossible, so Aviary is about making audio and video content intuitively searchable.”
Since 2006 Lacinak has run a company called AVP, which started as a digital archiving service and has grown to include data management and software development. Through that work, Lacinak noticed most information platforms lacked a good way to search videos. Some of AVP’s clients — which include the Library of Congress and higher education institutions — use video content as part of their collections or for research.
“The organizations we worked with wanted to offer their users a way to search their archives,” Lacinak said.
Enter Aviary. The site essentially has two tiers of content, public videos and collections administered by paying users. Public videos are free for anyone who creates an Aviary account, while those who pay to upload collections can limit who has access to them. Videos or audio recordings are placed side by side with a transcription, which is usually fairly accurate, save for a stray “meat” in place of “meet.”
The site launched in the spring, and though Lacinak said he will have to be patient to build a client base, he already has some converts.
“A lot of the folks that have been early adopters, we [at AVP] have worked with over the years,” he said. “It helps having some recognition and access to people.”
Since Aviary is a business, Lacinak hopes that organizations find his product useful, but he also sees potential in it as a sort of public service. Many of the public collections feature content that might be hard to find elsewhere, like performances from the Vermont Jazz Center, and there is a plethora of local content.
Wyoming Public Radio has uploaded episodes of its HumaNature podcast, which airs on the radio over the weekends. On Aviary, listeners can easily revisit it and search for segments they enjoyed. Another public page, under the name Friends of Sublette County, features Sublette County Board of County Commissioners meetings, with searchable transcripts.
Lacinak himself has used the page. He lives in Hoback Ranches, the Bondurant neighborhood ravaged by last year’s Roosevelt Fire, and found out the status of a grant the subdivision wanted and didn’t receive by searching the meeting transcripts.
With Aviary’s clients being large institutions and agencies, Lacinak knows it may not have many local customers, but he still sees it as something people can use. One page, he said, offers insight into how Aviary can archive the history of rapidly changing places like western Wyoming.
Bondurant History, which is public, compiles interviews with old-timers, people who may have grown up in the hamlet between Jackson and Pinedale or have lived there for long enough to understand its history. In a time when it seems the region’s culture can’t always keep up with pressures exerted by record numbers of tourists and perpetual housing crises, hearing the voices of those who’ve seen the area change can be valuable.
“Some of those people have passed,” Lacinak said. “It’s nice to have the interviews to be able to return to them.”