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 Reviews of Souvenir

New York Times - Circuits (July 2000)

WIRED MAGAZINE Review (August 2000)

New York Times - Circuits

July 20, 2000

Software Can Turn Notes Into Audio or Video Bookmarks

Note takers, take note: Software is now available for those who are tired of having to fast-forward through audio and video recordings in hope of finding that one significant moment they jotted down in their digital notepads.

The software, called Souvenir, is designed for students, reporters, lawyers, conference attendees and anyone else who takes notes while recording interviews or lectures. The technology works by issuing a time stamp each time a note is taken and using those time stamps to create links between the jotted words and the digital recording.

When users review the notes later, they only need to click on the words to pull up the corresponding video or audio clip.

The software, which is available for free downloading until this fall at www.i-recall.com, requires that notes be taken on a digital device like a personal computer or handheld organizer and that the audio or visual recording must be digital, too.




AUGUST 2000 - Page 232



Your Personal Web Scrawler

i-Recall updates humankind’s age-old ability to take notes. Thanks to Souvenir, a nifty application for syncing your scrawls with video- and audiotaped conferences and presentations, you can link from your text notes to any point within a video clip, an MP3, or any other multimedia moment.

Souvenir’s kernel matches a video or audio clip to real-time note-taking. The step-up works because Souvenir-compatible device – notebook computer, Palm, and IBM Crosspad – has an internal clock. Simply upload your scribbles, and Souvenir does the rest. The software parses notes into distinct objects and links them to event timepoints in your media presentation. If the event was streamed on the Web, you can share your annotated presentation and notes with others. To publish them online, the well-designed software interface for the PC lets users organize and combine bits and pieces of an audio or video clip quickly.

I tried Souvenir with both a Palm V and an IBM Crosspad. For the Palm, i-Recall has built a "digital ink" program that translates handwriting into text, so you don’t have to be a Graffiti savant to use it. The Crosspad lets you write on regular legal pad, your notes are picked up by the Crosspad’s sensors and appear in digital format on the PC. Surprisingly, the entire process – writing, uploading, synchronizing with the media, and publishing to the Net – was practically seamless. The only difficulty I encountered had to do with the way media content is managed on the Web. Sites often publish video clips through a convoluted channel of CGI scripts, so it can be difficult to actually locate the clip’s bare-bones URL to feed to Souvenir.

i-Recall, which attracted investment from such luminaries as Jay Chiat, spent much of its first year ironing out software bugs. The next hurdle is making Souvenir the standard for managing rich media on the Web. Sounds good to me. When a company executive edited
The Third Man into sections with a few scribbles on a Palm, and then sent me the clip from about halfway through where Orson Welles makes his first appearance in the film, the postmodernist in me was gleeful.

Souvenir separated art from its context without scruple. Sample some noir, anyone?
Paul Bennett