The Use of ICT to preserve Australian Indigenous Culture and Language a Preliminarily Proposal Using the Activity Theory Framework

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The Use of ICT to preserve Australian Indigenous Culture and Language a Preliminarily Proposal Using the Activity Theory Framework Sarah Van Der Meer Department of Computing Faculty of Science and Engineering
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The Use of ICT to preserve Australian Indigenous Culture and Language a Preliminarily Proposal Using the Activity Theory Framework Sarah Van Der Meer Department of Computing Faculty of Science and Engineering Macquarie University Australia Stephen Smith Department of Computing Faculty of Science and Engineering Macquarie University Australia Vincent Pang School of Information Systems, Technology and Management UNSW Business School University of New South Wales Australia Abstract Propinquity between Australian Indigenous communities social structures and ICT purposed for cultural preservation is a modern area of research; hindered by the digital divide thus limiting plentiful literature in this field in theoretical or practical applications. Consequently, community consultations become mandatory for deriving empirical and effective processes and outcomes in successful culture and language preservation and teaching of Indigenous culture in Aboriginal Australian communities. Analysis of a literature review has identified ICT as the best provision method to immortalize and teach cultural knowledge and language for Indigenous Australians determined by the accessibility of ICT s, the capacity of Aboriginal Australians to learn to use ICT and in some instances, the increased cost effectivity for multi-community communications and meetings from geographically dispersed land councils to use ICT. This research examines the effectiveness and outputs of culturally conscious, end-user driven ICT development and implementation into contemporary Indigenous Australian social structures and communities. Keywords Australian Indigenous Culture, Language, Activity Theory, ICT, Aboriginal 1 Introduction More than 100 out of the 250 languages spoken by Indigenous people have become extinct since 1788, the arrival of Captain Cook to Australia (Harrington 2014). Consequently, the preservation of the remaining Aboriginal Australian cultures and languages with emphasis on the teaching of endangered Aboriginal Australian cultures and languages is a critically important issue for the Aboriginal Australian communities of Australia. Aboriginal Australian identities are unyieldingly interlinked with their connection and proficiency in cultural knowledge, community engagement and use of language and the land. Unfortunately, without connection to land, knowledge and language, Aboriginal Australians substitute fulfilment from these connections with addictive illicit substances which contributes to the decline of social capital and depreciation of contemporary Indigenous social structures (Amos 2015; Burke 2015; Everingham 2015; Jones 2015; Schubert 2015). This results in hindering capacity to self-actualize as an independent or connected society which is empirically harmful for the wellbeing and continuity of a culture (Anonymous 2015d). Preservation of Aboriginal Australian culture and language has occurred over multiple platforms inclusive but not limited to, tourist tours and attractions hosted by cultural communities, paintings, art galleries, performances of music, songs, dance and ceremony, national parks and protection of traditional sacred sites (Anonymous 2015; Lawrie 2012), recording of oral history and cultural heritage and attempts to circulate this to younger Aboriginal members of the community (Lawrie 2012). The Ara Iritija Project is one of the most renowned preservation projects and aims to return culturally significant materials to native persons, inclusive of; photographs, films, sound recordings and documents which it then stores on a purpose built computer (Gibson 2009). The Internet enables the preservation of historical heritages and has acted as a promoter for traditional cultures (Cui and Yokoi 2012). The existences of e-museums and namely the Online Museum for History as a collection of digitalized information resources, such as images, textual documents, 3D models, flash documents, videos, and audio files of relics collected in physical museums (Cui and Yokoi, 2012, p. 2). Moreover, in some instances, number of visitors visit to e- museums has already out-numbered physical (on-site) visitors (Kravchyna and Hastings 2002). The ever-growing popularity and use of e-museums as sources of information suggests the movement of other cultural preservation projects existing more commonly through the use of IS. There are existing Aboriginal Australian online museums (Anonymous 2015c), however these have been unable to reach their full potential or have failed due to segregated structures of their community information. This mean the data structure aligns with communities but does not span the cultural divide. This stratified data design obliges with community segregation of knowledge sharing rules of the culture, however, without engaging with the contemporary social structures (Anonymous 2015b). These geographic clusters currently cannot be linked into one system due to technical and network constraints. This is challenging as the literacy skill and IT competency of individuals in these communities is basic. The current systems rely on these communities to fund and maintain technology, currently there is no knowledge platform, this has repressed the success of pre-existing cultural e-museums and why previous attempts of producing an e-museum have failed. By integrating the concept of segregated information and authorized access to these databases we propose to capture the cultural knowledge with contemporary social structures. The design for these information systems is invaluable because: 1) Aboriginal Australians will be in control of how the system portrays culture from a strategic level (NSW ALC) and local knowledge level (LALC). 2) It is important for these information systems and databases to belong to Aboriginal Australians as it is about their race and culture and the best way for these systems to be a part of and belong to Aboriginal Australians is by integration into contemporary social structures. 3) These systems should be integrated into the contemporary social structures because these systems are an innovation of Aboriginal Australians teaching and sharing of knowledge which is traditionally performed by rights determined by social structures within each mob nation, and as such, continuity of this method of teaching and sharing knowledge should be prevalent to ensure the respectful treatment of knowledge and following of social structural rules where the sharing of knowledge is concerned. Granted this information is collated and shared by communities to teach younger generations of Aboriginal Australians to preserve the Aboriginal Australian culture in the most holistic approach possible, there is value to be extrapolated from the knowing that this system belongs to Aboriginal Australians. 4) The purpose of the NSW ALC, RALC s and LALC s amongst other purposes is to ensure the maintenance and enhancement of Aboriginal culture, identity and heritage (including the management of traditional sites and cultural materials within NSW) (Anonymous 2015b) and to protect the interests and further the aspirations of its people. Henceforth, this paper proposes the design and development of an Aboriginal Australian culture/ history preservation/ teaching based information system to act as an online museum with authorization rights. Access to these online museums will be exclusively accessible by individuals/ communities to their respective museum communities/ individuals from one Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC) cannot access the information of another communities LALC in order to maintain cultural sovereignty for each LALC and maintain the traditional passing of knowledge within individuals of one community and the traditional form of sharing knowledge between LALC s meeting in person to ensure the integrity of the knowledge stored is not lost and maintains the traditional treating of knowledge. Sound developments in the use of Information Communication Technologies (ICT s) to preserve Aboriginal Australian culture and language have been made (Gibson 2009; Bandias 2010; Mohammad and Yi-Chan 2010; Featherstone 2011; McMahon 2011; Madden, et al 2012; Featherstone 2013). The extent of ICT s capacity to preserve Aboriginal Australian s culture is yet to be actualized. Prior hindrances incurred by the digital divide are less imposing than 10 years ago for Aboriginal Australians. Small, individual communal projects to create information systems to record, preserve and access cultural knowledge and language have been created, this papers proposal is to build upon these ideas and approaches community consultation as one of multiple discusses approaches explored and roll out a state wide information system that will provide individualistic knowledge, languages and culture corresponding to the respective community which will cater to the 119 individual LALC s in NSW that may opt in to having a community online museum built. The Literature Review engenders credence that the design, development and operation of ICT s which are governed by relevant Aboriginal Australian epistemologies and ontologies will best preserve and make accessible; cultural knowledge and language in increasingly interactive; in depth ways and additionally enabling future generations of Aboriginal Australians to learn and teach traditional culture and language through their LALC s. 2 Literature Review The extant literature encompasses learning of culture and learning with ICT. Additionally, contrasts and comparisons of traditional and contemporary forms of cultural preservation are reviewed. The impacts of the rollout of the NBN (National Broadband Network) and 3G (Next Gen phone reception) on the digital divide in rural and metropolitan Aboriginal Australian communities with noted emphasis on Aboriginal Australian s youth embracement of ICT s are analysed in regards to the productive and cultural mannerisms in which these ICT s are adopted. The literature review is structured to address four main themes related to this research: 1. Western researchers prevalent perceptions of the harms of ICT and threats which are posed to Indigenous cultures and the integrity of those cultures as they uptake the use of ICT on a daily basis. 2. Speaking to the previous point, elaboration as to why these perceptions are inaccurate from a system design and implementation perspective. 3. Literature refuting the notion that ICT harms Aboriginal Australian culture s integrity, affirmed by personal interviews and the ready embracement of ICT by Aboriginal Australian communities - notably by the youth of these communities; henceforth closing the digital divide and enabling the greater preservation of culture, namely Ara Irititja Archives and community uses of ICT to generate media and art and music 4. The values in the greater accessibility of the wider global community in delivering opportune prospects of travel, employment and education, henceforth increasing the social capital of Aboriginal Australian individuals and communities provided by ICT uptake. 2.1 Western Perceptions of ICT Harms of Adoption by Indigenous Culture Throughout the review literature there is a prevalent idea that ICTs have the power to change our culture and transform us and the way we think, then this has serious implications for the adoption of the technology by Indigenous peoples, struggling to maintain the integrity of their culture in a world dominated by Western ideologies and lifestyles (Dyson 2004) This notion is echoed by various other academics whom outcry against the uptake of ICT s and exposure of Western culture to Aboriginal Australian communities in aim of mitigating the depletion of the existing culture and to prevent Westernization or hindrance of Aboriginal Australian communities cultures capacity to thrive as a consequence of ICT inherently embodying Western cultural values (Dyson 2004; Dugdale et al. 2005; Dyson and Underwood 2006; Taylor 2012a; 2012b; Featherstone 2013). Whilst holding logical merit this perspective establishes a situation of quandary where resolution and prevention is concerned; 1. How should Aboriginal Australian communities and individuals interact with the world while they seek remain an isolated from? 2. Who should manage to preservation of Aboriginal Australian culture? When these Aboriginal Australian communities are forbidden to interact with the media and way of life of the globalised community? The stance of these academics can also be, and will be debated in so far as, information systems will embody the culture, values and developed for this purpose when designed with community consultation and existing social structures (NSW ALC, RALC s, LALC s) for the use of appropriate resources. This equates, as the instance that an information systems is created with Aboriginal Australian language and values of culture and is purposed for the preservation of Aboriginal Australian culture the system will achieve its objectives and help culture or cultural integrity is foreseeable. 2.2 System Design and Implementation Perspective The Aboriginal Australian culture has both characteristics of individualism and collectivism. It has collectivism characteristic because in each LALC, people work and share knowledge together within that community. On the other hand, the individualism characteristic reflects each LALC not sharing their knowledge with other LALC. No study in IS has yet to address this subject. Information systems are constructions and embodiments of the cultural values with which they are developed. However in this case they need to be implemented into an Aboriginal Australian information system of knowledge and practice are embedded within language and institutionalized by language. What is known, how knowledge is gained, how knowledge is defined and expressed is, to a large extent, determined by language and its use in context (Fogarty and Kral 2011). Throughout the literature review is a prevalence that ICT s are culturally adaptive and can be appropriated and embody the values of any culture and continue to function. The culturally-adaptive nature of ICT s have and will continue to enable better connections to universal culture s for individuals as observed in Indigenous communities spanning from Canadian and Aboriginal Australian communities (Dyson 2004; Mignone et al. 2009; Fogarty and Kral 2011; Madden et al 2012; Taylor 2012; Featherstone 2013). This proves there is value available for Aboriginal Australian persons and communities when ICT projects are executed by sole use of the culture (Chikonzo 2006; Schräpel 2010; Taylor 2012). In the Yarnangu community in Australia young people feel that without the capacity to learn about culture and generate art and music at the media centre the community would be a Sad one, there d be nowhere to get learnt. They would just sit around, play cards, sit and watch videos and DVDs at home, might be more break-in and sniffing, ganga. Everyone wants the media in an interview with the author in the Irruntju community (Featherstone 2013). Issues with Aboriginal Australian use of ICT s embodying Western values have arisen however, with an increase in Internet usage by younger generations in the communities in social media such as Facebook has generated concern by Ngaanyatjarra Media chairperson Winnie Woods, an advocate of new technologies, expressed concerns about the potential for a breakdown of kinship rules (pers. comm., Irrunytju Community 29 July 2010): We don t want our kids getting learned about the Facebook and getting involved. They might get with the wrong woman or the wrong man. Ngaanyatjarra Media has worked closely with Yarnangu since 2004 to develop culturally appropriate models for introducing and engaging with ICTs (Featherstone 2013). Consequently, the holistic investigation and incorporation of Aboriginal Australian culture - language and social structures and values - in designing and used in the functional operation of the system were imperative to ensure the systems deliverables would be achieved and the preservation of Aboriginal Australian culture would be done respectfully and not misappropriated. For these purposes, practices that capture these facets of Aboriginal Australian culture were incorporated into the fieldwork methodologies and in directing the approach to community consultation and interviews and surveys. 2.3 The Digital Divide and the Embracement of ICT Some Aboriginal communities have readily embraced ICT as it s become available to their community despite the long existing digital divide, however with the rollout of Next G a mobile phone network and the NBN an internet provision network aiming to cover 93% of Australians needing coverage young people are observed texting and engaging in chat rooms (Taylor 2012) making digital technology a part of people s everyday lives in the Aboriginal Australian communities with access to these ICT provisions (Gibson 2009; Mohammad and Yi-Chan 2010; Taylor 2012a; 2012b; Featherstone 2013) with many young people having developed computer literacy and creating media such as films, music, presentations, sharing photos and using internet banking and recreational downloading of music and playing online video games (Featherstone 2013). The increasing uptake in ICT has occurred parallel to the increase in availability and provision of the ICT services for Aboriginal people to utilise these technologies. Combined with the appropriation of use to self-determined purposes such as creation of media and cultural pieces suggests the factors impeding to the adoption of ICT from Aboriginal Australian communities has not been a rejection of Western values embedded in technology as seen with the increasing uptake of Facebook amongst indigenous youth in Aboriginal Australian communities and instead, greatest impediment being the lack of accessibility. As seen in Canada and Australia, as the availability of services and the technology have increased and become more accessible there have been a widespread uptake of those technologies that reflect a relationship suggesting as the supply is available, the demand is created (Dyson 2004; Daly 2005; Perley and O Donnell 2006). In this Aboriginal Australian communities, the digital divide impacts on Aboriginal Australians have depleted over the past decade (Gibson 2009), in this spirit, Aboriginal residents have undertaken a rapid catch up for ICT ownership and use as its availability has been steadily increased (Taylor 2012) in an extent that would allow academics and anthropologists to state that as stated by Inge Kral (2010) Aboriginal youth are now firmly part of the new digital culture. As the embracement of ICT has increased, so too has the interest from elders in Aboriginal Australian communities to use the ICT to preserve, teach and share cultural knowledge and stories. The most renown approach to this preservation and creation of digital archiving of culture is the Ara Irititja Archives managed by the Anangu people (South Australians Museum) which is used to digitally archive art, crafts, photographs, traditional objects, manuscripts, films, sound recordings and journals and has granted full access to the cultural materials to people which had been previously locked away in state museums and libraries. The information system is designed to be navigated as a virtual throwing of rocks which is the similar custom to how Anangu announced their arrival to a new location (Dyson 2004). Multimedia preserving platforms have been sufficiently preserving respective Aboriginal Australian cultures for many years, it is no new concept. However, the fault with many of these systems is the inaccessibility via the internet which would otherwise add multitudes of value in the successfulness of the systems purpose cultural preservation. Reducing the distances between homes and community centres, which are run through usually small c
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