The Center for University Teaching of Jewish Civilization “Sefer” (Moscow) and the Institute of Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences has been active in fieldwork from 2004 to the present time in different regions of the former Soviet Union (Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania). During this time it has collected a large archive of Jewish oral history and folklore (about 1500 interviews—audio and video files). The preservation of digital material requires detailed metadata, contextual and other information to support it. At the present day, work is underway to create an online database of the project and develop the principles of publication of the material on the database. The database is available on the website sfira.ru. Our presentation will focus on the issues of placing interviews in the database, searching the database and so on. In addition to aiding the preservation of digital material, our online database can also be used to sort the database by any criteria (region of fieldwork, language, topic, content, dialectal terms, etc.) to promote multiple and combined searches.
Perm region is one of the unique areas of the world where Finno-Ugric, Russian, and Turkic languages were used for centuries. Since the first interactions ages ago, other nations’ traditions and beliefs are kept unchanged within the region. Therefore, the digitizing of Perm region folkloristics is the key to understanding cultural diffusion processes.
In order to preserve as much as possible, the geographic information system was implemented. People from rural areas are able to upload geotagged texts, images and videolinks. As a result, a researcher can make a keyword query to the system and obtain all the places on the map of Perm region where these story lines and folklore characters were encountered. This story area can help a folklorist find other conserved antiquities.
It would appear that we have entered an age of ephemeral digital folk culture in which some genres of folklore and the traditional forms of expressive material they generate (songs, stories, wordplay and wordsmithery, visual and narrative humour, etc.) proliferate but often do not always establish a refined, permanent niche within individual repertoires. In other words, a substantial portion of contemporary technologically mediated, hybridized folklore is comprised of material that follows folkloric form and function, carrying unmistakable evidence of repetition and variation, only to vanish after short periods of circulation. Nevertheless, the ephemeral nature of this material does not render it to be of less concern for folklorists. On the contrary, ephemeral digital folk culture underscores how individuals construct expressive repertoires, accumulate knowledge and mastery of folkloric forms, and meaningfully engage in vernacular discourse as part of a folk process aimed at quickly parsing through the onslaught of mass mediated information. This presentation will examine the importance of documenting, preserving, and analysing ephemeral digital folk culture with a specific call to redirect folkloristic inquiry of Internet-derived expressive content towards the same emphases on pattern and process that informed previous scholarship on endangered or disappearing forms of material culture such as folk art and architecture. In doing so, this presentation will explore the concept of cultural inventory and how individuals and communities utilize the digital realm to curate vernacular expression, and how folklorists can take cues from informants in these hybridized contexts.
Folklore archives play a special role in documenting and preserving intangible cultural heritage. Frequently organized and managed differently from historical archival repositories, folklore archives are in the vanguard of adopting information technology. Nevertheless, they often disregard the information field’s longing for standardization and interoperability. Providing subject access to archival collections is of utmost importance, since folklore materials are often grouped around specific topics or themes, unlike in historical archives, where main access points are normally people and organizations who created the respective records. However, providing access to folklore archives by assigning subject headings presents specific challenges. There is no single accepted standard vocabulary in the field. Moreover, many folklore archivists find the existing thesauri unsatisfactory, because they lack depth and specifics of a given folk group or locality. This presentation looks at how different folklore archives approach this issue and what working solutions they have found thus far. It will discuss pros and cons of using controlled vocabularies versus creating an in-house thesaurus that meets the needs of the collection and describes it with extreme granularity, but fails to be interoperable.
The author's doctoral thesis related to traditional Latvian bread baking and the related calendar and family holidays research. The author has collected materials about bread making from all across Latvia in the 1980s and has also summarized comparative materials associated with the traditional baking of bread and related customs and applications from populations in other Baltic Sea countries. In order to make the process of obtaining material about the baking process easier, a questionnaire with 36 questions was created both for the retrieval of written information as well as for ethnographic surveys with correspondents. Several hundred informants were surveyed, and therefore a table was set up for filing the voluminous amount of material, because nuances in the narrator replies are also important.
With the development of digital materials, it has become easier to analyse huge amounts of information, for example, German-Latvian dictionary materials from the 17th and 18th centuries, Latvju Dainas, folk tales, folk beliefs and also scientific publications and research literature. This has allowed more material to be included in the doctoral thesis than was originally intended. Latvian families marked their bread loaves with different signs, which have a protective and blessing-giving role. Currently, 47 different signs and variations have been recorded. A growing interest in Latvian ornaments and their protective or stimulating qualities, as well as access to material on the Internet, has led to the use of signs resulting from the improper understanding of ancient material or signs that do not correspond to historical and cultural regions and traditions. Superficial interpretations are made, which leads to the negligent use of ancient symbolism and to a certain extent a general cultural simplification.
It is hoped that the material for analysis and further research will be able to create the right framework and provide an interesting insight for both scientists and other interested persons into the role of baking and the symbolism of bread in the Baltic Sea countries.
In 1999, professor Terry Gunnell at the University of Iceland started the project of creating a database of metadata about printed legends from Icelandic folk tale collections. Information for each legend in this database includes, for example, a bibliographic citation, summary, topic words, name and home of informants, and collectors and place names mentioned in the legends.
The database currently contains information on more than 10,000 legends from 21 printed folklore collections. Since 2012 the database has been developed further and is now accompanied by a web-based visual interface for exploring the data. Furthermore, place names included in the database—places mentioned in the legends and homes of storytellers and collectors—have been unified and mapped geographically, and a web-based interface has been created for researchers and others interested in order to explore the data. The interactive map can, for example, visualize the distribution of legends told by an individual informant, legends with specific keywords, or legends told by informants from a specific region.
A project like Sagnagrunnur is a good example of how folk legends and related metadata can be explored and disseminated in new ways using digital technology. It also gives an example of how the same dataset can be used both as a source for researchers from multiple fields (e.g. folkloristics, history, sociology) and as a source for public visualization of unique data about folk beliefs and multiple aspects of everyday life in past centuries.
The European migrant crisis began in 2015, when increasing numbers of Syrian and Afghan refugees and migrants arrived in the European Union. The Hungarian government set up billboards in the summer of 2015 against the flow of migrants and refugees. These roadside posters went up all over the country and said: “If you come to Hungary, you cannot take away Hungarians’ jobs” and “If you come to Hungary, you must respect our laws.” Dozens of humorous, digitally altered memes have spread on social media sites responding to the government’s anti-immigrant billboard campaign. Later, the government built a four-meter-high fence along the border with Serbia to stop migrants on the Balkan route. Again, people on the Internet answered with digitally altered jokes. In the paper I investigate these memes and the dialogue between the Hungarian government and the “folk" as a folklore phenomena.
The immediate digital reaction against the anti-migrant campaign seems emotionally motivated and ineffective because, according to recent social research, Hungarian society is mainly xenophobic.
The paper deals with the presentation of folklore and ethnographic data in digital form. It includes a demonstration of the digital archive of the traditions of Old Believers in the Republic of Moldova, southern Ukraine and Romania. The data were collected by the author during expeditions in 2008–2016. At present, the archive has elaborated the sections on 1) forms of ethnic and confessional identity of Old Believers in the above-mentioned area, 2) prohibitions and prescriptions, 3) houses and beliefs concerning dwelling spaces. They include fragments of interviews in textual as well as audio formats and photos. The archive shows the variability of cultural forms in the community of Old Believers in synchronous and diachronous perspectives. Major challenges, principles, and peculiarities of database structure will be discussed in the presentation.
The Digital Archives of Latvian Folklore— garamantas.lv—was established at the end of 2014. Since then it has become a fundamental online resource for discovering and researching the traditional culture of Latvia. Not only have manuscripts, images and audio and video recordings of the archive’s holding have been published, but IT tools to assist editors and researchers have been created as well, providing new and efficient ways to deal with virtual archival material.
However, the archives’ editors and researchers are only one part of the digital archives’ users. The other part is society. Garamantas.lv is an open archive, which means that everyone is invited to explore, contribute, and participate. After almost two years of intense work on the digital archives, it is apparent that a remarkable part of the work should be devoted to society, because one of the digital archives’ aims is to create an open, welcoming environment that makes people interested to share their skills, knowledge, and memories. The diverse communication with society sets new rules for the editors of digital archives and changes the profile of archivists and folklore researchers.
The presentation focuses on our experience in adjusting to these new rules and the ways we communicate with society to involve them into “doing” the archive, not merely “watching” it.
My presentation concentrates on the 1950s and 1960s, when the folklore department at the Estonian State Literary Museum was making efforts to record folklore as well as possible, working together with the television and radio and airing programmes on the material collected in cooperation with these institutions. This was another way of communicating with the informants, who listened to the radio programmes featuring their material and commented on them via correspondence with the archive.
Another side of archival life emerged, for instance, on the 40th anniversary of the folklore archive in Tartu in 1967, when seven wishes were published in the newspaper Edasi, some of which dealt with the lack of necessary equipment. The wishes of the folklore archive and folk music researchers, such as the invention of a machine that would decipher all sound records in the archive or that there would be machines to search data within 15 minutes and every department would have plenty of staff who code information, seemed unrealistic and ungrounded to some other folklorists. This also generated a heated debate in the newspaper pages.
Given the circumstances, the technical side of folkloristic collecting work changed gradually, with tiny steps toward the digital world.
Both traditional archives and independent digital community archives seek to collect, preserve, and make available materials considered valuable and worth sharing with others and thus provide a forum for the variety of cultural expressions. Their more detailed practices of selecting, acquiring, and contextualizing the material differ, especially when considering participation. This paper examines independent digital community archives and focuses on questions of engagement and participation in archiving practices.
I will focus on an independent digital community archive maintained by a UFO research association and created by individuals who are not heritage professionals. This archive documents the histories and agendas of a community that is founded on the basis of an alternative and marginalized worldview. It aims to collect, preserve, and make accessible materials discussing out-of-the-ordinary experiences: narratives of UFO sightings, contacts, and abductions. This archive highlights community involvement and invites members to submit, evaluate, and comment on materials, but it does not require contributions. Yet, even though participatory culture contests the division between amateurs and professionals, some participants have more authority than others and some forms of engagement and participation are more supported than others. In my paper I will discuss these notions in more detail.
Cultural archives all over the world are facing a necessity to seek new ways to make their collections accessible for users. It is indispensable to create services that will form a set of flexible and versatile tools for research purposes, such as information systems, databases, and digital corpora. At present, the information systems and databases used by our archives do not necessarily feature the functionalities required for digital preservation and data management. However, the archives will be responsible for the preservation of digital cultural heritage materials now and in the future. Common solutions and best practices for digital preservation would serve the needs of a number of organizations and allow access to the content. In my paper I will touch upon the following issues of digital archiving:
• The Internet and social media as a present and future mainstream for collecting folkloric data and conducting fieldwork;
• Born-digital materials as a challenge for archiving;
• New systems of archival description and rules for cataloguing data;
• Interoperability: shared standards and metadata formats/models;
• Timely tasks for an international network of cultural archives.
The Archive of Belarusian Folklore stored at the Center for Belarusian Culture, Language and Literature Research of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus has been awarded national scientific heritage status. The unique collection of phono recordings contains more than 30,000 authentic rarities made during field expeditions in Belarus and neighbouring countries in the second half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century.
A new paradigm for the study, preservation, and interpretation of the folk heritage of the Belarusians should be developed because of the rapid development of modern technology. Nowadays the creation of global digital archives, original vaults of the collective memory of nations in which the most valuable artifacts of the language, history, and culture of peoples is collected and stored, has become a priority for a number of the world’s scientific centres. The creation of the Digital Archive of Belarusian Folklore will be an important step towards the effective use, interpretation, and inclusion of unique audiovisual materials in the global world context.
The presentation will focus on the processes of archiving digitally born material in the Estonian Folklore Archives and the challenges that accompany them. It will provide an overview of the types and formats of materials that arrive in the archive and the ways the archivists and technical assistants process them for the materials to be up to the archiving standards. There will be particular focus on the material submitted during collection competitions by the general public. During the presentation, attention will be brought to the challenges of archiving materials from the web and social media. Some currently used methods and online solutions will be described.
The voluminous publication Eesti rahvakalender (Estonian Folk Calendar, 1970–1999) has been the most extensive edited approach to the Estonian calendar tradition to date. The volumes, published over a long period of time (Volume I compiled by Selma Lätt, Volumes II–VIII by Mall Hiiemäe), represent a comprehensive academic analysis of nearly one hundred calendar holidays in chronological order, supplemented with more than 9,000 text examples from the manuscript collections of the Estonian Folklore Archives. This edition has continued to be in use in various studies and surveys, in mobile apps, for special calendar events, etc. The online edition based on this comprehensive work was built on the Omeka platform, the management system for online digital collections, and will be completed in autumn 2016 (folklore.ee/erk).
While the preparatory stages for the new edition were familiar from conventional editing practices (scanning the contents of the printed publication, OCR, proofreading, correcting inconsistencies in different volumes published over a long period of time, also minor updating of the accompanying informative texts), transforming the format for the digital environment—to create added value—proved the main challenge. The corpus of example texts was restructured into a database, metadata of records was divided into fields, and a search ontology was recreated. In addition, some functions were added for contemporary user involvement. Because illustrations make units more visible in the Omeka environment, appropriate photos were found from the archive and added to the units without illustrations. Some of the archival items were linked to data in the Kivike file repository and archival information system of the Estonian Literary Museum in the hope of attracting users to explore the vastness of the intangible cultural heritage safeguarded in the archives.
Most close-knit communities in small towns in Panama have one, or several, residents who take up the roles of folk storyteller or keeper of traditional knowledge. Usually, these individuals do not have any formal training in folkloristics and operate outside of the frameworks established by cultural heritage research institutions.
The rise of social networks has allowed some of these grassroots activists to broaden their audiences by opening up virtual venues of discussion that have effectively become crowdsourcing platforms for folklore preservation in their local communities.
This work is an analysis of “Chepo Cultura y Tradición”, a folklore-based social network community dealing with the cultural heritage of the town of Chepo in eastern Panama. The main objective is to learn about the online community’s origin, methodology, audience, user participation, impact on the town, issues confronted, and links with formal institutions and trained researchers. Due to Chepo’s multicultural population, which includes Mestizos, Blacks, and Amerindians, the predominant ethnic groups in Panama, it is an ideal place to begin the study of similar folklore-based social network communities in the country.
Another goal of this work is to encourage discussion about similarities and differences between this Panamanian scenario and experiences in other countries.
Choreomundus is the Erasmus Mundus programme’s International Master in Dance Knowledge, Practice, and Heritage offered by a consortium of four universities: the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (coordinator), Blaise Pascal University, the University of Roehampton London, and the Scientific University of Szeged. The consortium has two associated partners: the Institute for Musicology at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the Norwegian Centre for Traditional Music and Dance. The curriculum of the programme includes issues concerning fieldwork, documentation, archiving, dissemination, and transmission of traditional dance, including new tools of digital humanities. In my presentation I would like to consider some cases of the user’s perspective. I will focus on how Erasmus Mundus students from all over the world get to know European approaches in researching folklore and how they respond to and engage with new challenges in digital humanities. I would also like to compare the producer’s perspective briefly: how differently research-wise and education-wise the partners of the programme in Hungary and Norway address digital humanities in pursuing their aims.
From an institutional point of view, the engagement with digital media in heritage work has evolved far beyond the simple creation of digital copies, cataloguing, and displaying. On the individual and group level, people explore Internet platforms and share personal texts, photos, or videos, thus collaboratively building open-access archives of everyday life. So far, however, memory institutions have not managed very well to connect in their work to the digital everyday practices of ordinary people. Currently, both approaches remain basically unconnected. Institutional and individual memory work is performed rather as a separate commemoration emerging in and from new, digital memory ecologies, i.e. the networked media infrastructures and uses, in a mediatized society. The contribution will explore the nature of the new digital memory modalities for participatory memory work: What are individuals’ motivations and conditions of sharing, exchanging, commenting, and using cultural materials? What particular qualities have Internet platforms (YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, etc.) for exchanging cultural materials? In which way can this connect to the institutional practices of POEM and their use of media technologies for memory work and communication with people and groups?
A member of the voluntarily organized groups on the info-communication platforms of the digital age shares his/her own technical knowledge and experience and also is helped by other members to innovate and further develop his/her own invention. Beside the sharing of ideas, the group can develop its own idea, and the materialized results can enrich the community. But what happens if there are thieves and impostors inside the voluntary and altruistic community? They can share false information and/or steal the manufacturing and technical description of the product developed by the community. I show the human aspects of information security in the field of virtual communities through an international case study.
A group of Japanese folklorists, including me, has made four expeditions (in 1995, 1996, 2000, 2015) to Verkhnyaya Toyma district, Arkhangelsk oblast, Russia. We have accumulated an amount of sound and video records, photos, and other materials from these expeditions, and now we are planning to create a digital archive of these records, which will be partly open for public use.
A basic unit of this archive is a short description of a topic in conversations or activities. These units are arranged according to time order and linked to sound and video records, photos, transcribed texts, and other related descriptions. Every unit is also tagged with keywords, like “song”, “calendar”, “life in the 1930s”, etc., and users can search units by these tags. Thus users can access not only folklore texts and information about old customs, but also photos and videos from various scenes of country life: cooking, stacking hay, using a samovar, and so on.
This archive should attract the interest of a wide range of people, but the publication of records must be carried out based on the agreement of each person, and we will set publication availability for each unit.
Internet humour, while travelling across borders and between nations and cultures, acquires new interpretations—not just through translation but also through adjusting the text to the target culture, at the same time retaining a connection with the source. Sometimes the adaption is successful and the process of accommodating the text is seamless. Sometimes a text that can be interpreted as critical commentary loses its meaning in a new context.
English, having become the lingua franca of the Internet, often appears as the main language of humorous texts, which further supports the global nature of memes. Due to increasing Internet coverage, which has also skyrocketed in other cultural and linguistic spaces besides English (China, India, etc), translations, remixes, and adaptions of Internet humour are more prone to occur. From the late 2000s onward, online meme culture has witnessed a continuous increase of more localized Internet memes. The blending of the global and local planes in Internet memes brings faraway issues closer (for example, the Occupy Wall Street movement and its local expressions) and, similarly, allows local topics to gain a wider international audience and recognition (such as the Tahrir Square events in 2011 or Occupy Wall Street in the same year). Having analysed a corpora of 100 top-rated humorous memes on dedicated humour and social media sites popular among Estonian users, we will discuss how humour creates intertextual references that rely partly on the cultural memory of that particular (i.e. Estonian-language) community and partly on global (primarily English- and Russian-language) cultural influences, thus producing hybrid cultural texts. The more interpretations accessible for the audience (cf. polysemy), the more popular the text becomes.
Due to conflict and war, most visible in the ongoing destruction of ancient Iraqi cultural heritage by ISIL, which has provoked public outcry on the loss of heritage worldwide, the question of sustainability has gained new relevance. While these are condemnable acts, they lead towards an important dimension: The question of sustainability of cultural heritage is not a shared commitment worldwide that is mainly challenged by age-related decay or business-driven interests. Questions of sustainability are also addressed when negotiating worldviews and social orders and have increasingly become public issues of civil society. Starting from Brundtland’s understanding of sustainable development, this paper will outline the UNESCO guiding principles of sustainability coining local and global strategies of sustainable development in cultural heritage. It will proceed with examples of digital cultural heritage, demonstrating that there are diverging ideas of how these may be sustained, and reflect how social change may be included into strategies of safeguarding in the digital age. Crucial conflict lines in these negotiations are whether and how contemporary safeguarding approaches and heritage work reflect the realities of individuals and groups within national heritage regimes in Europe. Particularly with regard to sustainability in the field of digital cultural heritage, the question arises to what extent are the modes of safeguarding at stake? How is what we have deemed as worthy for safeguarding so far rendered problematic through new forms of cultural transmission and production today?
The creation of the National Inventory of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Belarus began in 2012 in the context of the implementation of the UNESCO Convention of 2003. The Inventory is based on the principles of the primary role of communities and openness for all parties concerned. The idea of the Inventory includes the necessity of its constant replenishment, because the actual data on the monitoring of the current state of ICH should be included in it. The Inventory represents the online database with text, audio, and visual information.
Several threats are now clearly seen. The appropriate infrastructure and technical equipment required for inventorying has not been set up in the regions. The significant problem is the lack of heritage specialists to permanently supervise this work. Financing is also insufficient in the regions and at the state level as a whole. As a result, the inventorying has an optional character and is performed on a non-systemic basis. The “from bottom to up" inventorying communication method almost doesn’t work, because ICH bearers are poorly motivated. We also have a trend towards the commercialization and decontextualization of ICH. The most active bearers use the Inventory data to adopt practices from other regions and increase the commercial attractiveness of their heritage.
In the historical contemporary context on a European or even planetary level, all modern societies are undergoing a comprehensive transformation of their cultural components through the restructuring and upgrading of intangible values created by the human groups who belong to those communities. There are cultural deposits such as folklore archives entrusted to identify and adapt to new changes by updating, structuring, and preserving these values. These institutions preserve various collections recorded on different types of media, from the oldest carriers like wax cylinders, discs, tape recorder, cassettes, and video tape up to the digital systems of today.
The main concern for the Archive of the Constantin Brailoiu Institute of Ethnography and Folklore specialists is to digitize the documents newly registered on the system by adapting the archiving methodologies, but also digitizing those that must be transferred from the classic system to the modern one. At first glance, copying seems to be very simple, but in reality it involves a set of principles and specific methodology that must be followed, such as work strategies, analogue and digital equipment, and hand work specialized in both systems. A very important factor when passing archive documents on to any new system is to maintain the original form of the documents and also to preserve continuity in the rules related to the ordering and systematization of collections and the organizing of the thematic function of the fundamental concepts of oral culture in order to see the evolution of the cultural phenomenon.
We intend to present our working techniques and the concept vision of the cultural repository for all types of expression within the popular culture.
The value of a free, motivated, and large-scale “crowd” has become evident to both project teams and funders in the digital humanities in recent times. This paper examines the Meitheal Dúchas crowdsourcing initiative, a spin-off of the Dúchas project for the digitization of Ireland’s National Folklore Collection.Mbr>
Meitheal Dúchas.ie launched as a community transcription project on the duchas.ie/en website in early 2015 with the goal of encouraging participants to transcribe material from the Schools’ Collection. This handwritten manuscript collection, containing hundreds of thousands of pages of text in both English and Irish, is not suitable for OCR or similar automated processing, and its vast size makes the possibility of funding a professional transcription team implausible. The response has been extremely positive, with over 20,000 pages of folklore transcribed in just over a year.
This paper will cover the setting up of the project, interaction with participants, editorial issues, and usage statistics. It will also present future plans to expand the scope of the project to incorporate the collection of contemporary folklore as well as to include the transcription of sound and video files.
It is the intention of this paper to look at a moment of crisis and the ways of reacting to such moments. In practical terms, there is currently a significant international political crisis, one in which national certainties are breaking down. And it seems no coincidence that intellectually and culturally we find that society, too, is experiencing fragmentation, upheaval, and rupture.
Initially, the paper will locate a suggested praxis and discussion by reflecting upon the Federal Writers Project (FWP). The FWP was dealing with a contextually similar crisis, which included mass immigration during the advent of World War II; it was also responding to a similar backdrop of nationalistic ideas.
Then, specifically considering the work on verbal art by Dolby-Stahl and Von Sydow on the personal experience narrative, I explore one aspect of this crisis and its ramifications, namely, an individual's construction of personhood. By situating our understanding of culture and human beings in a digital, postnational age, I propose that, if accepted as folkloric, once expressed, a personal experience narrative not only constructs an individual’s sense of personhood but also creates community and works in opposition to nationalism.
Thus, I briefly conclude by proposing a folkloric praxis that could politically and culturally embody Habermas’ concept of constitutional patriotism.
For centuries archives were collections of written texts, “stored” on all kinds of “media” from stone and clay tablets to parchment and finally paper. The technical means for capturing both the appearance of persons and their environment and the sounds produced by them arrived rather late; with daguerrotype arriving in 1839 and the phonograph in 1877, their age is something like the “day before yesterday” when compared to the five millennia of writing.
The technical means of documentation pose the same problems as textual documents and are to a great extent alike in this, apart from the problems caused by the obsolescence of necessary playback equipment and particular preservation requirements. The greatest problem (especially in the case of older documents) is that of metadata, though a textual document contains some usable information even in cases when there is no dating and indication of an author. Images and audio recordings without sufficient indication of place and persons featured are either ornamental or emotional, but provide scholars with more puzzles than information.
The process of retrieving information not included with the original item is an intricate one. In quite a few cases it is rather hopeless, but then there are some tricks a researcher can pull out from his or her sleeve.
The public reaction to important political and social events is frequently wrapped up in folklore models and texts belonging to both traditional and modern/urban genres. This process leads to the production of a vast media-dependent text corpus. These texts are normally generated, changed, and transmitted at an incredible speed, particularly on the Internet.
The possibility to collect huge text corpora on nearly any topical subject and to track both variations and routes of their transmission opens new perspectives for folklorists. Usage of qualitative methods allows a researcher to understand which events have evoked public reaction and which motives become central for it—to literally measure the intensity of vernacular text production in a disturbing social situation. In the proposed paper, we will discuss the opportunities and limitations of this approach based on the study of financial crisis in Russia. The exchange rates for the US dollar and euro have grown dramatically in Russia in 2015-2016, immediately leading to a price increase for exported goods and a decrease in collective purchasing power. Each drop of the national currency has been followed by an outburst of folklore texts produced and transmitted. Through them, people explain the situation and build forecasts. The proposed paper will show how the dynamic of exchange rates and its media coverage is reflected in the intensity of folklore circulation and which vernacular models of explanation are dominant in every period.
In Europe and beyond, the formation and development of tradition archives have mostly been linked to active society involvement. Networks of collectors and informants, en mass collecting campaigns, centralized submission of collected materials to folklore archives, calls for action published in national and local newspapers, etc. were (and still are) a part of the widespread practices for folklore collecting. Crowdsourcing, referred to as a phenomenon of the digital age, has let the Web 2.0 generation of Internet users discover and bring wide attention to the power as well as wisdom and forth-bringing enthusiasm of the “crowd"—something that actually had been enjoyed by tradition archives for more than a century. However, for the tradition archives, information technologies have provided an opportunity to enliven and diversify the range of collaborative practices, thus engaging with new challenges and giving rise to new perspectives. In the presentation, I will analyse current crowdsourcing activities carried out by tradition archives and reveal the experience of the Archives of Latvian Folklore (Institute of Literature, Folklore and Art, University of Latvia) in carrying out a national-scale crowdsourcing event of folklore manuscript transcription ( talka.garamantas.lv).
The presentation deals with problems of virtual communities (specifically, messages written by people who suffer from migraines and posted on selected Internet forums) in relation to e-folklore. The author of the study analyses the genre repertoire, namely, the typical rhetorical actions that appear in the community in response to recurring events and situations. It is well known that writing is not just a cognitive act but also, and mostly, a social practice. Therefore, every community develops specific ways of writing, which reflect its identity and character, its goals, norms, rules, and ideas. These genres are also affected by the communicative technologies at a community’s disposal. Collected in Poland, the empirical material belongs to global folklore in electronic circulation. A detailed analysis of the posts aims to help not only in acquiring a holistic view of the studied issue but also in the proper selection of messages and their evaluation.
KIVIKE is a file repository of the Estonian Literary Museum that stores digitized or digitally collected documents—manuscripts, photos, audio-video materials, etc. In the repository, there are aggregated a) digitized copies of original documents, both of higher and lower quality, b) textualizations or transliterations, c) archival metadata, and d) thematic and typological metadata of documents. At present, KIVIKE is an archivist-centred database.
The Estonian Folklore Archives created the Community Portal (Kogukonnaportaal) as a subunit of KIVIKE to present folklore materials in a (more) user-friendly way, to make documents easily accessible to the public, and to provide prepared selections of folklore materials on particular themes.
The Community Portal gives good opportunities for crowdsourcing as well; registered members of communities can add metadata and comments to documents, textualize manuscripts and decipher audio-visual recordings, etc.
The paper presents several issues that have arisen from the processes of making available folklore documents in the file repository system. Besides technical problems concerning the presentation of data, there are some contradictions in the principles of collection and representation of metadata between active community members (the “crowd”) and archivists.
In addition, some very complex ethical problems have arisen, especially concerning documents created in the last fifty years. In several ways, the interests of communities and individuals differ in several ways.
More and more folklore materials are available for research in digital format. There are certain kinds of procedures that computers are able to perform much more effectively than humans. The task of digital folkloristics is to combine both in order to solve folkloristic research questions.
My research on Estonian folksongs began in 1996, at a time when there was only a limited amount of song texts available in the digital format. In order to get a research corpus that would cover the whole country, the first task was to enter the texts into the computer. It took time and effort to compile the corpus, but that enabled me to use the large amount of texts for the computational analysis of verse structure, which would have otherwise been too time-consuming for human force. The results turned out to be meaningful and informative, enabling me to demonstrate the regional variativity of folkloric metre and to analyse the reasons of this variativity.
By now, through the many successive projects led by Janika Oras, the database of Estonian folksongs folklore.ee/regilaul contains approximately 100,000 songtexts together with metadata. The texts have been scanned and optically recognized from machine-typed copies, proofread, and a slightly edited or normalized version of texts also exists. The corpus lends itself to mass analysis, for example, on the geographical distribution of song types. The combination of the typological units with the statistical analysis of textual proximity seems to be promising for revealing the characteristics of folkloric communication and variation (and not only in the case of folksongs).
Out of sight is out of mind. This old wisdom particularly applies to the world of folklore archives and a fortiori to the corpora from the founding period of European ethnology. This is because field researchers are mostly unable to publish their data basis in their lifetime. The more productive their own fieldwork is, the less productive their publication activities usually are. Posthumously it is hard to work up empirical data of early folklore collectanea to vital knowledge. Subsequent researchers tend to revitalize such frozen data, which may be seen as highlights from the viewpoint of their contemporary Denkkollektiv, or scientific community. Kuhn believed that a new paradigm is incommensurable to its forerunner. Lakatos agreed with him, in that the languages on both sides of a shift are different. With this, misunderstandings are bound to happen, especially now, when we are going to represent folklore collections digitally.
Transferring a research collection into a digital online archive is said to be an act of publication, but actually its modus of representation still remains “archival”. Data and their former information structure are transformed from an analogue into a digital carrier medium. They are better managed by computer systems and disseminated by the Internet, but they are not published or annotated in the traditional meaning of the word, which may lead to disappointment on the part of users. On the one hand, sources need to be explained on a contextual level. On the other hand, there is no time in digital projects to work them up to a higher level. This work usually must be done “outside” the archive, where one is able to reflect on one’s own mode of representation. I myself gained practical experience with this crux and many other problems in the project “WossiDiA: The Digital Wossidlo Archive”. Since the whole estate of Richard Wossidlo is put on the Internet, there is more time to reflect on such digital “doing” as “participating observer”. Practical and technical aspects of WossiDiA’s workflow, its specific data model structured by “hypergraphs”, reactions of users, and ideas concerning international cooperation in the new field of digital archives will be the main substance of my paper.
As part of the activities of the Árni Magnússon Institute, a considerable amount of Icelandic folklore has been recorded. Folklore has been collected from all corners of Iceland and the Icelandic settlements in North America. This material includes all types of folk songs, along with oral compositions, both prose and verse: poetry of various genres, all sorts of folktales, and descriptions of folk customs. The material has been computer-catalogued, and it is now possible to search the collection online and listen to most of the recordings. Selected recordings from the collection have been released on CDs, and it has become clear that with easier access to the material, more people are taking an interest in it. Surprisingly, the main interest does not come from scholars, but artists of all kinds. Both writers and painters have used archive material in their work and, as could be expected, many musicians have shown interest in studying archive material and using it as inspiration for their own creations in various music styles. In addition to telling the story of the collection and giving some examples, I will address the ethical questions that arise when opening up access to the recordings to the general public.
In 2015 the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage endorsed the “Ethical Principles for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage", which include 12 principles, raising issues extensively debated while not reaching an international legal consensus. For instance, it is recognised therein that “the communities, groups and individuals who create intangible cultural heritage should benefit from the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from such heritage, and particularly from its use, research, documentation, promotion or adaptation by members of the communities or others". These principles, which are meant to apply at different levels, also refer to the principles stated in the UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, as respect for cultural diversity and mutual respect.
UNESCO lists of intangible cultural heritage accumulate a significant number of nominations presented in descriptive and visual form, available digitally, and serving as a source of information for a rather diverse use. The listing process has already raised ethical issues concerning “sensitivity", which has become an argument for questioning the attribution of international visibility to some elements of intangible cultural heritage. The paper examines these concerns and elaborates on further perspectives of applying ethical principles for implementing the Convention.
Classifying, cataloguing, and archiving folklore texts has been the aim of folklorists since the birth of the discipline. But certain genres (e.g. folk tales, ballads, legends) have always received more attention than others. In Hungary, the minor genre of riddles has been collected and studied by a number of scholars, but a comprehensive corpus has never been compiled.
Hungarian riddle texts are known since the beginning of the 17th century, and contemporary riddle forms, mostly riddle jokes, are still popular in everyday conversation as well as online communication.
During my Ph.D. studies I digitalized a smaller corpus of Hungarian riddles (3143 texts) published in the 19th century. In this paper I propose the establishment of a digital archive of Hungarian riddles that would be necessary for a comprehensive, historical comparative study of the genre.
The Lithuanian Folklore Archives of the Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore is the largest and the oldest repository of folklore in Lithuania and worldwide. Currently there are stored over 10,000 manuscript collections of folklore (about 2 million folklore items) as well as about 10,000 hours of sound and video recordings and over 49,000 photographs and negatives. The Folklore Archives has inherited the collections of the Lithuanian Science Society (1907–1940) and the Lithuanian Folklore Archives (1935–1939) as well as personal collections of folklorists from Lithuania (Zenonas Slaviūnas, Stasys Paliulis, Jurgis Dovydaitis) and the USA (Juozas Būga, Jonas Balys).
In the course of the last decade, the Institute implemented several digitization projects, and a few databases were created. Our oldest collections of manuscripts and phonograph recordings are already available on the Internet (www.tautosakos-rankrastynas.lt, archyvas.llti.lt/irasai). Virtual presentation allows everyone interested in Lithuanian folklore to become better acquainted with the oldest manuscripts by famous historical personalities, or to listen to authentic performances of folk singers and folk musicians. However, access to our collections is limited because not all the materials are adequately digitalized.
In 2015, the Lithuanian Folklore Archives initiated a project titled “Digital Sutartinės". In the 21st century the Lithuanian multipart songs sutartinės became a national symbol, and quite numerous custodians of them created a virtual community of sutartinės singers. For the needs of this community, the largest sutartinės collection by Zenonas Slaviūnas from 1958–1959 was published as a digital book (www.sutartines.info). In 2016, we will continue publishing the most important folklore sources on the Internet.
Modern technology challenges encourage a rethinking of the methods of collecting and archiving as well as the ways of presenting folklore to various communities: participants of the folklore movement, researchers, students, etc. Our goal is to employ the modern technologies in order to preserve the unique collections of Lithuanian folklore and to facilitate the work for everyone studying and using them.