Amazing and invaluable project making virtually all Supreme Court oral arguments available on MP3 for free:
- The Oyez (pronounced o-yay) project has taken the original tapes of such historic cases and is now making them available in MP3 format for free.
“Reading a transcript of a spoken event is not the same thing as listening to an event,” said Jerry Goldman, professor of political science at Northwestern University, who runs the project. “The spoken word contains more than substance; it contains emotion.
“The value comes in creating a community of listeners,” he said. Goldman hopes listeners will analyze and annotate different pieces of the proceedings.
The Supreme Court has recorded nearly all of its oral arguments since 1955, and Goldman hopes to archive all of them. So far, the Oyez project has converted 2,000 hours of oral arguments into digital form. A complete catalog will cover 4,000 more hours, he estimates.
The Oyez project (“Oyez, oyez, oyez,” meaning “hear ye” in Middle English, is announced every time the justices enter the courtroom) gets the original reel-to-reel tapes of the proceedings once they are available in the National Archives, typically many months after ruling has been made.
With help from an audio engineering firm, Goldman and his staff of four undergraduates and one part-time technician convert dubs of the original audio to WAV files, and engineer the audio to improve the quality.
….The Oyez project helps students get a sense of the personalities who sit on the court and their approaches to their work.
“In oral arguments, you get a sense that you hear (the justices) thinking out loud,” Althouse said. “They haven’t edited their work and put it into a neutral tone yet.”
“There’s something more lively about it,” she said. “There is often humor. There’s give and take between the justices, and that’s all very interesting.”
“Sometimes — and I won’t name the cases here — I’ll recommend one because a lawyer is particularly bad and they have failed to pick up on the cues that the justices are having a particular problem or would like to hear a particular argument,” she added. [Wired News]
The voices make it real.