Preserving Stories of the Black Experience with USC Digital Repository Technology

USC Digital Repository

At an event on Tuesday afternoon, February 7, the USC Annenberg Charlotta Bass Journalism & Justice Lab revealed the first interactive interview in its Voices of a Movement series—an AI-driven, video-based virtual conversation with Lora King, daughter of Rodney King. The Bass Lab, founded last year by USC Annenberg associate professor Allissa V. Richardson, is the West Coast's first extended reality (XR) Black media archive and experimental storytelling space, and the Lora King interactive interview showcases how it can preserve Black stories and share them with generations to come.

The lab created King's virtual conversation in partnership with the USC Libraries and USC Digital Repository, whose Interactive Interviews technology draws upon the experience of the USC Shoah Foundation's Dimensions in Testimony project with Holocaust and genocide survivors. The Digital Repository team behind the technology includes Sam Gustman, chief technology officer at the USC Shoah Foundation and associate dean of technology for the USC Libraries; program manager Catherine Gao; production and post-production lead Craig Stubing; project and implementation lead Mike Jones; as well as Nick Camardo, Dan Carlson, and Sara Shuman.

To create her interactive interview, King went before the camera and shared some six hours' worth of recollections and insights about her father, the victim of a brutal 1992 beating by Los Angeles Police Department officers, and her work as founder of the nonprofit Rodney King Foundation. Applying the latest advances in video, display, and machine learning technologies, the project team then transformed her pre-recorded video into something researchers and other users can interact with directly, posing questions and getting direct answers.

King's interactive interview, as well as her live conversation with Professor Richardson at the February 7 event, was featured by Quincy Bowie in the Daily Trojan, Anthony Clingerman in Annenberg Media, and Greg Hernandez in USC News.