Hello Mukurtu!

I was introduced to Mukurtu on Wednesday, September 10. It was love at first site! Our network of University of Wisconsin – Madison (POSOH and TLAM) folks: Omar Poler, Lotus Norton-Wisla, and myself met at the University of Wisconsin – Madison School of Library and Information Studies to attend a webinar hosted by the Center of Digital Archaeology. It was an hour-long meeting introducing us to Murkurtu Premiere.

During the webinar, Omar, Lotus, and I were able to create a digital record using Mukurtu Premiere. The metadata was done for us, but we were able to see the distinction between the field/element and the value associated with each one. Mukurtu software uses a base of Dublin Core, with additional fields/elements specifically to adhere to local cultural protocols. One such field was titled “Cultural Narrative”. This field was created in order to allow for personal comments to be added to the record, giving the object a new life.

The three of us, Omar, Lotus, and I, will be attending the webinar series throughout this semester in order to understand the ways of Mukurtu and prepare ourselves for the new version expected to come out in January of 2015.

Stay tuned for more updates on the progress of the POSOH Digital Collections project!

Information Overload

For this week’s meeting of the POSOH/SLIS group, we are reading three articles, one of which was written by Michael Ashley, entitled “Deep Thinking in Shallow Time: Sharing Humanity’s History in the Petabyte Age”. The article delves into the reality of our current situation with regard to information. There is A LOT of it and a lot of it is in a digital format, which means it is at a higher risk of being lost to the ages. Rather than losing the information to decay or a weather related catastrophe, it is more than likely the information will be lost to weeding or lack of preservation. In his article, Ashley states, “Hillis describes the ‘here and now’ as a ‘Digital Dark Age’, because information is devalued by the ubiquity of digital content that cannot outlast our lifetimes” (Ashley 6). I had thought of this before, but had not thought of the impact this kind of loss might have on the history of humanity.

Ashley talks about the timeline of human written/recorded history. He asks the question, “The Internet, or electronic networking, is transforming so quickly, what will it be like in 25 years, one reflection of time from its creation?” (Ashley 4). His article is concerned that, like the hieroglyphs of ancient times, digital information from today will not be recognizable in 25 years. It will not be readable and it will therefore not be relevant. For this reason, it is important to begin a process of standardization that will morph as needed into newer versions of itself, rather than having to start from scratch every time a new digital information preservation language is introduced.

An interesting point about this that was made in his article is that it is up to the producer of the information to preserve the information now. He says, “Until we can invent the digital equivalent of the cuneiform tablets, that is, a substance that can preserve the medium and the message equally, we will need stewards of the human record” (Ashley 6).

The importance of the digital library project I am working on is stated in the above sentence. If we don’t preserve the legacy of the POSOH project, no one else will. The products, the science units, will be available, but the work that went into them will be lost. The background of the project, the people who worked so hard on it need to also be preserved. The digital library project will not only preserve the work of the POSOH project, it will be an avenue of preservation for other projects of the Sustainable Development Institute of the College of Menominee Nation and hopefully also, through Mukurtu, a preservation tool for other tribal projects and information.

Every New Beginning Comes From Some Other Beginning’s End

I am a graduate student at the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. This is my first semester and I have been lucky enough to have a Project Assistantship created for me to assist the POSOH project, which I have been working on for the past three years as an undergraduate Philosophy student.

The POSOH project is a five-year project funded by the USDA.The project is the hub for a variety of educational projects focusing on sustainability and bioenergy. A bulk of the project has focused on creating culturally relevant, place-based science curriculum to be taught throughout Wisconsin, but specifically in the Menominee Nation and the Oneida Nation, both of Northeastern Wisconsin. These curricula, for 7th, 8th, and 9th grades have then been taught to teachers in Professional Development Institutes, which in turn have been taught in classrooms throughout northeastern Wisconsin. There are many other aspects of the POSOH project, which I will not go into here, because more information will be available on the website, which will be available in the near future. This is where I come in.

I have been incredibly lucky to be a part of the project for the past three years. As I entered the SLIS community, my role has changed within the project to reflect my leveling up. I am able to continue being a part of the project for at least the next year, within another path of the project, while I, along with help from members of the SLIS community, primarily Omar Poler, create a digital library of the resources both used to make the POSOH curricula and resources that have been created for the POSOH curricula. The POSOH digital library will be built using Mukurtu CMS.

Mukurtu CMS is a wonderful content management system created to allow Indigenous communities around the world to create digital libraries, which reflect the same cultural protocols with regard to access to objects and information seen in their own communities. For more information on the mission of Mukurtu, please visit www.mukurtu.org. In using Mukurtu CMS, we will be allowing for further development of the library by the Menominee Nation once the POSOH project reaches its completion, with the hopes that the digital library will then be housed on the College of Menominee Nation’s Sustainable Development website.