Interviews are extremely valuable sources of information – for those who do research as well as for those who are simply interested in a subject matter. To my knowledge, no central hub or database for interviews exist at this point of time. Search engines are an option, but they don’t offer comprehensive results and finding what you’re looking for is often a matter of luck.
My goal is simple: I want to build a centralized, comprehensive, curated and fully searchable space that allows users to quickly find interviews based on their content and can be used for personal, professional and academic research.
“Find all interviews by Nobuo Uematsu.”
“Find all interviews about Princess Mononoke.”
“Find all interviews mentioning Final Fantasy XII conducted before 2003.”
“Find all interviews tagged with ’music composition’ and ’GameBoy’ in English or Japanese.”
Tens of thousands of interviews have been conducted and published in the last decades and new ones are published every single day. I want to keep track of current publications and systematically add as much older content as possible – with the help of the community.
I’ve had this project in mind for several years now. Time to finally get started for real.
The Data Involved
For all projects involving data management, it is essential to know what data to consider and how it is connected. As later adjustments to the key structure tend to be very difficult, it is important to have a clear picture early on – even for features that won’t be realized until much later.
Luckily the basics are really simple. As of now, the following data will be considered: Interviewee(s), source, language, date conducted, topics & keywords.
Developing a Prototype
The development of a very basic website that allows users to search for interviews based on tags and add interviews themselves will be simple.
Implementing features such as advanced search, advanced tagging options and a visually appealing and responsive website will take more time.
Sourcing & Crowdsourcing
It is impossible for one person to fill and maintain the database. As such this will be a user-driven project where everyone is encouraged to contribute links to interviews found online (for the time being – offline sources will also be considered).
The website will also serve as a hub for new publications. In order to assure the timely addition of new interviews, I will have to think of a way to keep track of all major websites. Luckily most websites tag their interviews properly, so with a bit of RSS reader magic this goal is probably realistic.
While a central hub for links to interviews would be useful already, the ultimate goal is to assign keywords for each interview to allow for more specific search options.
For that purpose, someone needs to read these interviews and add keywords based on the contents. This can be a topic (“game development”, “localization”), a name or title (“Final Fantasy VII”, “Hironobu Sakaguchi”, “Square Enix”) or something else (“Super Nintendo”, “Video Game Crash”, “Anime Industry”). Adding the most basic tags will be a minimum requirement – an interview about Persona 5 must include the tag “Persona 5”.
Curating interviews will be time-consuming, so this will also eventually be a community-based effort.
I believe that especially in the curating department, considerable amounts of automation are possible to reduce the workload. For example, a program could search text interviews for existing keywords and assign them automatically. A manual check would still be required, but it would still save a lot of time.
A Couple of Questions & Answers
Why only anime and video games?
Because these are the topics I follow closely. The structure of the website will not limit the content to certain topics, so any type of interview can be added freely. If there is demand and people willing to take charge of it, I will consider expanding the scope.
Will the interviews be stored on the website?
This was the original idea, but it leads to all sorts of problems and many websites understandably won’t like the idea of having their works published elsewhere. That being said, I think the idea of conservation is an essential part of this project. Therefore I’m planning to include Wayback Machine links in case the original source will become unavailable.
What about video interviews, audio interviews and interviews in print magazines?
There will be an option to add those as well. It will be significantly harder to keep track of print magazines, however, so they won’t be the focus. Conserving them is a complex and entirely different topic that might be discussed in the future, but not right now.
What’s the current progress?
An extremely basic and incomplete prototype has been developed. Realistically speaking, if I fully devote my time to this project, I think the website could go online in the very near future in a rather basic, but functional state. It will take significantly more time to implement all planned features with the desired level of polish, though.
Will there be ads?
No. The website will always be free and without advertisement. The hosting costs will probably be very low for the foreseeable future, so I will cover them by myself. In case this ever changes, I might consider community donations, but presently this is not part of the plan.
Do you need help?
Not right now. I’m not intimately familiar with the development of responsive, mobile-friendly websites and I am not a designer, so I might reach out to people with expertise in these areas at some point in the future.
However, I will need help to add content once the website goes online and spread the word. Tons of interviews are waiting to be added to the database. We will need a comprehensive list of sources that publish interviews (or have done so in the past) related to anime and video games. The next step will be to systematically add all of these interviews with basic information. In-depth curation will follow afterwards and be optional.