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Washington state piloting Microsoft audio search

A pilot program introduced by Washington state uses Microsoft Research technology to search, by keyword, thousands of hours of audio from legislative hearings dating back to the 1970s. It’s great news for historians and for anyone who wants to listen, over the Internet, to an elaborate discussion of salmon habitat during a 1982 House Agriculture Committee hearing.

The search interface is available to the public, by choosing the Audio Recordings record series in the drop-down menu.

The service builds on the state’s efforts to digitize more than 30,000 cassette tapes from House hearings. More than 6,000 hours of audio are currently available for searching online, covering hearings from 1973 to 2001. Another 10,000 hours are expected to be made available for searching over the next two years, the state says.

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