Indigenous knowledge systems and linked data

Jodie Dowd and Jenny Wood, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies

Concurrent session 4
Tuesday 14 February 2017, 2:30pm - 2:55pm


This paper explores the development of a new framework to combine Indigenous knowledge systems and linked data to enable greater accessibility and culturally appropriate use of collection items within the GLAM sector.

The authors will discuss how incorporating Indigenous knowledge systems and understanding the complexities of linked data is important when classifying, cataloguing, and preserving knowledge for use by various audiences, from Indigenous community members to the general public. Through using case studies from the AIATSIS collection, this paper will also highlight how these systems can be used to better access and gain a deeper understanding of Indigenous knowledge when combined with linked data.

Indigenous peoples have a wealth of intergenerational cultural knowledge passed verbally through the generations. This knowledge manifests in both intangible forms and material culture, including traditional knowledge and cultural expressions, oral traditions, dance, language, medicine, as well as tools and artworks. As a living culture, Indigenous peoples have knowledge systems that provide a greater understanding of their culture.

It is important that Indigenous communities maintain control over their cultural knowledge in order to preserve and share their knowledge in a culturally appropriate way. The GLAM sector would benefit through an arrangement with Indigenous custodians to incorporate Indigenous knowledge systems when determining linked data.  Developing a better understanding of Indigenous knowledge and wider education of these cultures improves accessibility of connected resources to a wide range of audiences, in a culturally appropriate manner.

In addition to providing an overview of Indigenous knowledge systems, this paper also explores the description, retrieval and access to bibliographic and authority data using linked data principles in a GLAM environment. An introduction to linked data and the associated web standards, leads into discussion of the emerging BIBFRAME model. Linked data, with its basis in the semantic web, has the potential to deliver significant advances in discovering and sharing authoritative information to wider communities.

Possible benefits of using linked data for publishing descriptions and resources are explored, such as the ability to retain contextual relationships between items and collections. In addition, Linked data technologies can be used to expose the value added information about resources and their creators, such as bibliographic and authority data, to web search engines.

BIBFRAME is different to USMARC as it will provide a new way for collecting institutions and its users to annotate data by tagging and adding their own content. While online public contribution to content yields powerful results, un-moderated crowdsourcing can have consequences. Cultural protocols and practices, such as the ATSILIRN (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Library, Information and Resource Network) protocols and the AIATSIS Guidelines for Ethical Research in Australian Indigenous Studies, are examined as an informed way to work with material with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content. 

Paper - Available now.

Presentation - Available now.


Creative Commons Licence

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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