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Posts from the ‘Software’ Category

The MMWC Newsletter and Other Infrastructure: Building our Bazaar


The Mathers Museum of World Cultures (MMWC) has a new newsletter. The cover for MMWC #1 is shown above. Clicking on it should take you to the whole issue as it appears on the online publishing platform Issuu. To add the newsletter to your hoard of PDFs, you can download it from the MMWC website download it here. For the long haul, we will soon add the newsletter to the museum’s “community” in the IUScholarWorks Repository.

Before talking about the newsletter as infrastructure, I want to thank MMWC Assistant Director Judy Kirk for her great work getting it edited and launched. This is a small summer issue that recaps some recent MMWC developments. A forward-looking fall issue will follow it very soon. While thanking Judy, I want to also thank the whole MMWC community–staff, volunteers, students, researchers, advisory board members, donors–for the work that we begin reporting in this first issue of the newsletter.

One of the museum’s accomplishments of the first half of 2013 was the establishment of an ambitious strategic plan. One thread running through that plan is work aimed at putting into place a range of kinds of museum “infrastructure.” Some of this will be very visible to the museum’s friends and supporters, other kinds of infrastructure will help the museum do its behind-the-scenes work more effectively. As I can, I will try to tell the story of our infrastructure work here. I have found the public reporting of my colleagues and of peer-institutions extremely helpful and my aim here is to reciprocate in appreciation for what I have learned from them. (For a recent example, consider this great account of the building of a teaching lab at the Penn Museum.) Read more

Genres Leak, Being a Reflection on Michael E. Smith’s Essay on Semi-, Quasi- and Pseudo- Journals

On his weblog Publishing Archaeology, Michael E. Smith raises key questions about the status of a mode of scholarly communication for which he is in search of a name. To guide his thinking, he considers two actual web publishing projects in anthropology: (1) Anthropologies and (2) Anthropology of This Century. Committed to the centrality of the established peer-reviewed journal form (but eager to advance open access and also a blogger himself) he wonders what to call these journal-like publishing efforts. Noting that these publishing efforts have some clear similarities to conventional journal but that they are also, in some ways, different, the possibilities that occur to him include semi-, quasi-, and pseudo- journal.

I do not have answers for Michael’s questions all nailed down perfectly myself, but I doubt that semi-journal or quasi-journal or pseudo-journal will, in practice, stick. There are a great many experiments going on in scholarly communication and I think that we will eventually discover the right names for specific kinds of projects. I think that the label “journal” is likely going to continue to spread to refer to a greater diversity of communicative forms. For me, the key thing that we know now is that it is important not to conflate platforms with genres (or with quality). Read more

@Mukurtu Project Wins Major IMLS Grant

Congratulations to Kim Christen and everyone working on the Mukurtu project on news that the effort has received a major grant from the (U.S.) Institute for Museum and Library Services (announced here). This is a major development for a major project.

As noted on the Mukurtu project site, Mukurtu is “A free and open source community content management system that provides international standards-based tools adaptable to the local cultural protocols and intellectual property systems of Indigenous communities, libraries, archives, and museums.” It is “a flexible archival tool that allows users to protect, preserve and share digital cultural heritage through Mukurtu Core steps and unique Traditional Knowledge licenses.”

Mukurtu: An Indigenous Archive and Content Management Tool | New Website Announcement

From a December 20, 2010 Mukurtu Project Press Release:

Mukurtu: An Indigenous Archive and Content Management Tool
New Website Announcement

Project Director: Dr. Kimberly Christen; Director of Development: Dr. Michael Ashley; Lead Drupal Developer: Nicholas Tripcevich

In March 2010 the Mukurtu project was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Digital Humanities Start‐Up grant to produce a beta‐version of an open‐source, standards‐based community digital archive and content management platform. As the third phase of an ongoing software production project, the Mukurtu team is aware that indigenous and tribal libraries, archives and museums are underserved by both off‐the‐shelf content management systems (CMS) and open source CMS and digital archive/web production tools. Over the last decade as web technologies have diversified to include user‐generated content and more sophisticated digital archive and content management tools the specific needs of indigenous collecting institutions have been left out of mainstream productions.  Based on long‐term research and collaboration with indigenous communities and collecting institutions, Mukurtu’s development and production has focused on producing a digital archive and content management tool suite that meets the expressed needs of indigenous communities globally. Specifically, Mukurtu:

  1. Allows for granular access levels based on indigenous cultural protocols for the access and distribution of multiple types of content;
  2. Provides for diverse and multiple intellectual property systems through flexible and adaptable licensing templates;
  3. Accounts for histories of exclusion from content preservation and metadata generation sources and strategies by incorporating dynamic and user‐friendly administration tools;
  4. Provides flexible and adaptable metadata fields for traditional knowledge relating to collections and item level descriptions; and
  5. Facilitates the exchange and enhancement of metadata between national collecting institutions and related indigenous communities through robust import/export capabilities.

The Mukurtu software tool suite is under development now with a system demonstration site planned for Spring 2011. Our informational website, development blog, and wiki are now live. These sites allow us to chronicle our development progress, provide updates and engage with users as we move forward to a full launch in August 2011.

Please visit the new site at: and follow the links to learn more about the Mukurtu project goals, development, and collaborations.

OA Tracking Project, Connotea, Nature Publishing Group, Threatened UC Boycott

I wish that the otherwise awesome Open Access Tracking Project (OATP) was not reliant upon Connotea, a product of the Nature Publishing Group (NPG). Peter Suber describes the project and why it uses Connotea here. The problems with NPG are discussed in the recent letter threatening a UC-system boycott of NPG. (See previous post.) Discussion in Insider Higher Education is here.

AcademiX 2010: Learning in an Open-Access World

The second conference of the week was AcademiX 2010, an event sponsored by Apple and (an Apple affiliate organization comprised of people interested in educational uses of Apple technology). The event’s complex structure made it a real learning experience for me. I had not previously participated in an event of this type. I was at Northwestern University, one of two primary sites for the conference. The other main site was at MIT. These two sites were connected with each other, with the Apple HQ in California, and with secondary sites at Duke University, San Diego State University, the University of Kansas, the University of Minnesota, and the University of New Mexico. Beyond these physical conference sites, there were a great many conference participants experiencing the conference online from their desktops. Video and audio linked all of these places and people together.

The focus of the event was “Learning in an Open-access World.” My mandate was to speak about academic open access in the scholarly communications sense relating to peer-reviewed scholarly literature, but the program was broader than this area. John Wilbanks (Creative Commons) spoke of “Commons-Based Licensing and Scholarship: The Next Layer of the Network.” Ben Hawkridge (Open University) presented “New Channels for Learning: Podcasting Opportunities for a Distance University.” Kurt Squire (University of Wisconsin-Madison) discussed the findings of his research on “Education for a Mobile Generation.” Nick Shockey (SPARC) presented “The Digital Natives Are Getting Restless: the Student Voice of the Open Access Movement.” In the final slot, Paul Hammond (Rutgers University and Richard Miller (Rutgers University) co-presented “This is How We Think: Learning in Public After the Paradigm Shift.”

Read more

Commons-Free Software, Free Content, Open Access

In an earlier post, I mentioned my attendance at one day of a conference in Hannover Germany called “Commons, Users, Service Providers: Internet (Self-)Regulation and Copyright.” The theme on the day (March 18, 2010) that I attended was “Commons-Free Software, Free Content, Open Access.” Now that I am trying to catchup on a a year’s worth of academic loose ends (our semester is just now ending) I wish that I could offer a fuller report of the conference. I think that I will need to settle for a comment or two and a word of thanks.

I especially benefited from a couple of presentations. One of these was “GNU GPL Version 3: The Law Making Process” by Eben Moglen, a professor of law at Columbia University. Professor Moglen has been very involved in the development of the GPL and he spoke of it in light of the ways that such arrangements represent a kind of non-governmental international law-making framework. He described the approach used in GPL3 as emphasizing new and general language that does not provoke default assumptions in any particular national jurisdiction. Other presenters spoke of other pathways toward internationalizing other IP/copyleft instruments. He was ill and unable to attend in person but prepared a very remarkable video that he sent to the conference. I hope that it is placed online as it would standalone very well even though it addressed the conference and conferees directly.

The two other presentations that I will mention were “Creative Commons International: Achievements and Perspectives” by Catharina Maracke and “Linux, Wikipedia and Other Networks: Governed by Bilateral Contracts, Corporations, or Something in Between?” by Dan Wielsch. Professor Maracke is the former director of Creative Commons International. She is now teaching at Keio University in Japan. He talk was a great overview of the approach that has been taken in internationalizing the Creative Commons toolkit. In contrast to the GPL, this has involved creating local versions for each national jurisdiction. Professor Wielsch teaches at the University of Cologne and his talk described research on the evolution of community governance in massive collaborative content production projects such as Wikipedia. While a subject that numerous people have been discussing in recent years, his presentation was clear and effective. As a non-specialist I learned a lot from it and from many of the presentations.

(Strangely, the area where I had the most background–open access–was the focus for the only presentation that, it seemed to me, was the most out of sync with the spirit of the day’s discussions and most contrary with my own understandings and views of the topic.)

As the first formal academic conference that I have ever attended in Germany, the even was very instructive. While mostly native German-speakers, the audience and presenters controlled and used perfect English. I both appreciated this fact (at a practical level) and found it a source of guilt (as an advocate of linguistic and cultural diversity).

I was in Germany as a guest of the DFG Cultural Property Research Group at the University of Göttingen and was hosted at the Hannover Conference by Mr. Philipp Zimbehl and Professor Dr. Gerald Spindler. I wish to extend my appreciation to them and to my overall hosts Professor Dr. Regina Bendix and Ms. Arnika Peselmann.

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