Who Gets To Digitize Whose Knowledge?
Faculty of Information and Communication Studies
UP Open University
GS 197: Culture and its Global Entanglements
University of the Philippines Diliman
10 December 2008
CC-licensed photo from flickr.com/photos/amoration/3028563114/
cPerson(s) Actor_1, Actor_2, etc.
(video type) [feature length, documentary, short, commentary, etc]
cLocation PhysicalLocation_1, PhysicalLocation_2, etc
cLocation VirtualLocation_1, VirtualLocation_2, etc.
Many things can be represented
and shared digitally
cWriting WritingItCites_1, WritingItCites_2, etc.
cVideo VideosItCites_1, VideosItCites_2, etc.
(writing type) [Blog, Journal Article, etc]
Sometimes we do it for the purpose of creating
new worlds, new realities.
Other times, digitizing information simply
makes the information more easily
shareable and archiveable...
(Quick aside: Knowledge versus information according to
the field of Knowledge Management)
“What is, Know what”
“What works, Know how”
“The capacity to act”
From Serafin Talisayon's blog:
Tacit versus explicit knowledge
Digitizing information can play a crucial step in
transforming implicit to explicit knowledge.
Can all tacit knowledge be
explicitly documented and
Maybe. Maybe not.
But even if it were possible...
... should all knowledge be
● When knowledge is digitized, what is lost?
● Transforming implicit to explicit knowledge is
a kind of mapping.
– Digitizing knowledge is a kind of mapping.
– Mapping is often (though not always) a simplifying
and distorting process.
quot;A Journey into Time Immemorialquot;, from www.virtualmuseum.ca
In whose hands does the information lie? And do they have the legitimacy
(the right, the accorded responsibility) to manage and transform that
● Nancy Maryboy is a First
Nations (Navaho) professor,
Department of Physics and
Astronomy, Northern Arizona
● Teaches an Internet-based
course on Native American
“She shares her people's
ancient knowledge of the
Navaho night sky and tells the
stories of the constellations,
their names, and how they
came to be.”
“ [During one conference], she was cautioned by one of the
non-native experts that she ought to formally document
[...] Navaho cosmology, since it would likely disappear in
She gently made the point that
certain knowledge must remain in
the Navaho people's possession
and that she was very confident
that they could be entrusted with
its preservations, as they had
done so for thousands of years.
Digitizing information/knowledge is a
useful endeavor. But we ought to
think about who owns the knowledge
and has the right to manage or
transform that knowledge, as well as
who is supposed to benefit from
digitizing a particular body of
This is all the more important when
the claim of ownership is staked by
individuals or groups who whose
voices have historically been
underrepresented in the digital
world and who place an importance
on the medium through which that
knowledge is transmitted.
“All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance [...]
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”
TS Eliot, The Rock, 1934
CC-licensed photo from flickr.com/photos/imuttoo/2631466945/