The goal of TalkBank is the creation of a distributed, web-based data archiving system for transcribed video and audio data on communicative interactions. These interactions will include mothers talking with their children, family dinner table talk, classroom interactions, animal cries, signed language, formal debates, phone calls, talk with foreigners, club meetings, and dozens of other types of communicative interactions. The data will come from speakers of many languages, professions, and ages. Some speakers will have language disabilities and some will be language learners.
The formal specification for data in TalkBank will use a system of annotation graphs called Codon. Tools will be created for the entry of new and existing data into the Codon format; transcriptions will be linked to speech and video; and there will be extensive support for collaborative commentary from competing perspectives.
Researchers will be able to locate a particular segment of an interaction and immediately play back that section on their computer monitors. TalkBank will facilitate comparisons across social groups, languages, and situations. It will also provide tools for working in detail on single populations, as well as collaborative commentaries that test competing interpretations against a constant set of data.
The initiative establishes an ongoing interaction between computer scientists, linguists, psychologists, sociologists, political scientists, criminologists, educators, ethologists, cinematographers, psychiatrists, and anthropologists.