Web plat(per)form(ing) social issues: New epistemologies, practices and ethics of storytelling

Montréal, Canada, 27-29 April, 2015

Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling (COHDS), Concordia University


With the democratization of media by its digitalization, storytelling has become immersive, interactive, participatory and/or collaborative. Stories are also more and more disseminated on the web through so-called “cross-”, “multi-” or “trans-” media platforms. This new storytelling paradigm – shaped by rapid technological progress and the relative accessibility as well as the general public acceptation of its globalization, among others – leads to novel ways of creating, disseminating and receiving stories. Yet, as exciting and fertile the combination of storytelling, technology, web design, locative experiences and user-experience practices and theories is, this ongoing media phenomenon also raises epistemological, methodological and ethical questions. This series will highlight diverse kinds of representations on web platforms of social issues and people living the realities represented by reconfiguring notions of collaboration, intention, action, engagement, authorship, (in)visibilization, aesthetics, creation, marketing, economics, politics and reception from a variety of perspectives. This series will therefore enable conversations about technical aspects emanating from the redefinitions of storytelling in a digital era as much as the inherent relational elements of technics. This series will present several events – public talks, workshops, round-tables, panels, Q & A sessions and hands-on experiences, among others – from January to December 2015.


Public Lecture:

Mukurtu CMS: Differential Access for the Ethical Stewardship of Cultural and Digital Heritage

Try and recall a family secret, or a cherished memory shared between you and a parent or sibling. Now imagine holding on to that memory so that it could be shared with your descendants in 20 years, or 200. How would you preserve it, in what form? Who has access to it now, and how will that memory be held and transferred from generation to generation? From a single moment to the wider experiences of communities, oral histories and endangered languages, the intimate interchanges that define codes and protocols for sharing do not easily translate to the digital exchange of the world wide web. In this discussion, we will look at where we’re failing and succeeding to connect with indigenous priorities for differential access to cultural content, and what this means for all of us in developing informed exchanges for the digital humanities. We’ll explore Mukurtu CMS, a free and open source platform designed specifically to address some of these challenges and how community based agile software development can help to humanize the Internet.


Differential and Collaborative Digital Storytelling with Mukurtu CMS

“There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.” – Ursula K. Le Guin
Storytelling in the digital age takes many forms of inspiration, creativity, production and distribution, but telling stories is not bound by any one medium, performer or audience. Oftentimes the sources for stories may necessarily need be kept secret or guarded, and the same may be true for the story itself, or particular parts or passages, even if the overarching desire is to make the story generally available to a broader public. This becomes even more important when working with indigenous communities who wish to define not only how and who can share a story, but with what audience, and in which contexts.

Mukurtu CMS is a free and open source content management solution allowing communities to preserve, share, manage, license and curate their digital heritage and stories. Mukurtu allows users to manage their digital materials using international standards as well as their own local cultural protocols. This unique intersection provides indigenous communities with both a stable and upgradable tool to manage and share their digital assets and a platform for preservation and growth of their distinctive materials. Mukurtu promotes a community approach to digital heritage management and preservation extending the already embedded social and cultural systems of indigenous communities to their technological tools.

In this workshop, participants will learn the history of Mukurtu CMS and how it may be a good fit for your own projects. We will explore Mukurtu’s features and functions that empower communities, cultural memory institutions, and individuals to define, preserve and cultivate digital heritage in their own terms, maintaining control over rich media and their associated metadata. Participants will see examples of Mukurtu in use in indigenous communities emphasizing preservation strategies, cultural protocols and the use of traditional knowledge licenses and labels as part of our expansive toolkit.

• Familiarity with Mukurtu CMS as platform, workflow, creativity and management platform.
• Planning storytelling projects for differential access in collaborative contexts.
• Hands-on experience with Mukurtu CMS, Mukurtu Mobile and Mukurtu Exhibit
• Understanding of Traditional Knowledge labels and their potential impact for digital storytelling projects
• Digital preservation and archiving tips and tricks for individual digital humanists

Tools Provided:
• Each participant will be provided a free Mukurtu CMS site on mukurtu.net
• Access to course pack with extensive readings and how-to articles
• One hour follow up project consultation with Center for Digital Archaeology team

Prerequisites: None. The workshop is geared to students and faculty with interest in the subject but not necessarily highly technical skills (although if you them, they’re welcome!)

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