News and Comments on the Project
- The Mukurtu Archive is discussed by Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Anne Barker - http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/008/02/06/2156218.htm
- The Mukurtu Archive is mentioned in an article by BBC News: Locking down open computing, by Bill Thompson. The article discusses approaches to digital permissions and rights management: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7212803.stm
- Dr. Wendy Seltzer, Fellow with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School: "Rather than fight copyright norms with bad code, we should learn from the Warumungu and build code (and law) to support social practice" - http://wendy.seltzer.org/blog/archives/2008/01/11/mukurtu-contextual-archiving-digital-restrictions-done-right.html
The Mukurtu Wumpurrarni-kari Archive is browser-based digital archive built around the cultural protocols of the Warumungu Aboriginal community in Australia's Northern Territory. The archive provides a cultural solution to the community's concern over access to and the reproduction of recently digitized versions of cultural materials and personal and community photos. With thousands of photos, videos and other materials returned to the community and "virtually repatriated" by national museums, the community needed a way to maintain the cultural protocols surrounding the viewing, circulation, and reproduction of these materials. Off-line, in everyday life, cultural protocols function so that men do not view women's rituals, people related to one "country" (specific places) cannot access or view other people's countries without permission, and family members do not view images of the deceased (to give a few examples). In order to make the digital images of families, artifacts, scared sites, ceremonies and other cultural materials accessible to Warumungu community members, we needed to create a digital system that would replicate the cultural protocols embedded in the community. To create the archive, we leveraged this already existing protocol system to create the archive's internal logic, database structure, and interface features.
Unlike "out of the box" digital archives that primarily provide storage capacity and cataloguing of images, this Indigenous archive tool emphasizes access, accountability, and the cultural protocols that drive the ways in which people interact with, sort, search for, and reproduce cultural materials, images and the knowledge associated with them. We understand archiving, search, and image reproduction as deeply social and cultural acts. Therefore, we needed an archive and a search engine that was adaptable to a specific cultural system of information management. The Mukurtu archive is concerned not just with preservation, but also with access through socially adaptable and culturally appropriate means.
The archive's innovative database structure, user-friendly interface design, and dynamic interactive features allow users to easily navigate through content, arrange images according to their own categories, tag content with restrictions, add comments, print and burn CDs of content accessible to them. In this way, the archive mirrors the dynamic nature of all cultures as they change over time.