I feel that in the language and culture documentation community that there is a tension between “documenting” and “globalizing”. In the sense that what we as digital natives and cultural technologists think is “living” is in part “documenting”.
Now, in some sense “Language Documentation” is an academic pursuit of its own right independent of linguistics if it has a plan and tries to capture elements of the expression of the culture and language as it is spoken or acted out. I think there is a bit of confusion in the literature as linguists move from linguistics to language development and community development. This is particularly evident with the use of video in language documentation. Continue reading
In October, Becky and I were invited to present FLEx at the Universiti of Malaysia, Sabah as part of a workshop for compiling native dictionaries and managing cultural data. I learned a lot about dictionaries, about using FLEx to organize dictionary data, about Webonary and about Malaysia.
One of the things this workshop helped me to clearly articulate was that there are four knowledge content areas which dictionary creators need:
- Knowledge about Theoretical Linguistics to understand the language being described and the categories possible in the dictionary.
- Knowledge about the language being analyzed and described so that they can apply the appropriate options available to this situation.
- Knowledge about how to manage the editorial process for the dictionary (including entry submission).
- Knowledge about how to use the software to implement the editorial process.
This workshop’s focus was only on the software used to implement the editorial process (mostly the data collection part of the editorial process). So in some ways it felt like we weren’t giving the participants all the tools they will need (or even showing them all the tools they will need). But we had to realize that it is not our responsibility to give them all the tools they need or to expose them to these issues. They need local contacts for that. Regardless of these issue we were still ecstatic that there were about 80 people in attendance.
Becky took most of the sessions on FLEx. She presented on using FLEx as a tool for collecting words and various things about words. We covered several input methods and features in the application.
I presented a session on explaining how to get data out of FLEx. We talked about putting dictionary data on the web and turning it into .epub files.
I think one of the more interesting things that I learned was about expectations, culture and photographs.
Many people wanted photographs with us (or of us). This is not totally unexpected. What was unexpected was that rather than taking one photo and sharing it (passing it around), everyone wanted their own picture. Not their own picture with us but a picture with us made with their own camera! It was in that moment that I had an epiphany. Having training in Language Documentation I am aware and concerned with rules and laws concerning privacy. In the U.S. when dealing with issues of informed consent and intellectual property, it can not be assumed that if I want to take a picture of you that I, the owner of the camera, own the picture. Furthermore it can not be assumed that I have the right to do with that picture as I please. i.e. Post it to the internet. This may be in part that our laws are based on our semantics. It may be in part our culture. But there I realized that if the photo is taken with your camera you own the photo. You can do with it as you please. The asking for permission is that you have asked for permission to take the photo.
Being interested in Web-design, and issues of culture and art as it varies by cultural influences I have had four nagging questions. Each of these questions probably deserves more thought than I can give them right now.
- What is the impact of cultural attitudes towards web (the internet) on web-design?
- What are the impacts of cultural information processing on web-design?
- Why do official Mexico websites have blinking boxes and blinking text? Why does that work for them? Is this deeply seeded in the history of computers or is this deeply seeded in attitudes of Mexican government officials?
- What are the effects of cultural design impulses on information processing?
This truly does deserve a link. I wish I had written this down when I had thought about it. It was 2010 when I had come across this site.