In Venezuela, traditional medicine meets new media.
Last week I sat on a jury for “socially responsive” new media projects, and the telephonic deliberations got me thinking more about the complex alchemy of new technology and social/political action.
So I was excited to see the latest Drumbeat installment land in my email box late friday, to find a whole issue devoted to new technologies and indigenous knowledge. A while back, we explored these ideas on our Seeing is Believing website, with a collection of articles on the power of new technologies in the hands of Indigenous people.
Drumbeat pointed me to many skookum projects, including the Aussie Digital Songlines, a virtual reality simulation game located in an interactive media-rich world of the cultural landscape of Indigenous Songlines.
WeSay is designed to empower small and endangered language communities with open source software and low-power devices that can work in remote areas with limited electrcity and/or internet connectivity to create native dictionaries and other language preservation methods.
But closer to my present residency in the world of health-care, Drumbeat also links to several new technology / traditional medicine projects. In Venezuela, an electronic health map aims to document the knowledge of 32 Indigenous communities in collaboration with rural doctors. And a politically-suspect database in China includes over 3,000 entries about Tibetan pharmaceutical resources. In an article about the database, the director admits that “The developers have yet to consider the intellectual property implications of making Indigenous Tibetan knowledge freely available on the Internet.”
But it’s obviously high time to consider the implications. And many are doing so. In India, cultural rights activists, bio-diversity campaigners, academics, lawyers, communicators, and students gathered in Bangalore gathered to discuss how the media tends to frame IP issues around every day commodities like turmeric by multinational corporations. So this group focussed on issues like “how Bollywood stole our Folk Song” and open source technologies.
And a Maori protal is dedicated to taking control over technology at the source.
Knowledge may be power, but the “democratization” of New Technologies can quickly lead to the continued piracy and theft of Indigenous Knowledge when the weapons are in the wrong hands.
Add comment March 11th, 2007