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Interface for craft learning – Mei-Ling

Hi all,

As a follow up to our discussion last week, my project idea revolves around creating an interface for traditional craft workers to pass on knowledge and training. One thing I did not mention last week is what I mean by “traditional.” I am using this broadly to encompass, in particular, indigenous cultures which in the past, have tended to be exploited by Western scientific and academic research and collection practices. More recently socially responsibly scholarship is working to repair this damage by, for example,  “digitally repatriating” material culture objects that currently reside in collections and that have otherwise been. unavailable to the cultures that created them and for which they have continued (often sacred) meaning. For example, in Australia programmers created digital access to a database of objects for an aboriginal people, but it was specified to their cultural protocols–including gender and posthumous protocols of access. The software programmers noted how creating this project was extremely different from their training in designing databases, yet appreciated the need for it. Overall this kind of work–including many other dimensions of helping traditional cultures be sustained–is called “cultural heritage management.”

My interests lie one step prior to the objects themselves–their creation within the originating culture, the tactile knowledge–as well as intangible meaning-dimensions–to making culturally significant objects. I would like to see an interface assist in this transmission of knowledge and recording of it. However, because this is often proprietary and/or special in some way to the people creating it, such an interface would likely be an enclosed, private one (intra-net rather than internet). I realize this may be at cross-purposes to more general contemporary online practices of open knowledge, however I am hoping the preface above explains this need. In my “big wish” this interface/portal would provide many services and needs for an entire community of craftspeople, from training to knowledge recording to news and marketing (with some parts open to the public). However, realistically, if I can just get the “kernel” of person to person knowledge exchange “right” I would be very happy. Also I feel that due to the types of users the interface itself must be very friendly, intuitive and even visually attractive and fun.

Posted in Motivations.

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3 Responses

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  1. mandiberg says

    That is *really* fascinating. A very different kind of “requirement” that would have to be built into the architecture of the database & code.

  2. meiling says

    Thanks – yes good suggestion and questions. I am grappling with this myself–video seems pretty important.

    Regarding aboriginal project – http://www.irititja.com/the_archive/the_software.html
    (hope the link works…)

  3. mandiberg says

    Are you familiar with http://instructables.com/. That might offer one kind of model. It is more one directional, though people are encouraged to include their work at the end.

    I would love to hear more about:

    “programmers created digital access to a database of objects for an aboriginal people, but it was specified to their cultural protocols–including gender and posthumous protocols of access. The software programmers noted how creating this project was extremely different from their training in designing databases”

    I assume “their” refers to “aboriginal”

    If this is about craft, and the history of *touch* based learning, how would that knowledge be conveyed in a digital form? text, image, video, other?



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