NewScientist: Humans across cultures may share the same universal musical grammar

NewScientist: Humans across cultures may share the same universal musical grammar. “While music seems to be everywhere, scientists haven’t previously found much evidence to suggest it has any universal features. The prevailing view is that music is so diverse that few, if any, universals exist. Settling the matter empirically has been difficult, because research often focuses on individual cultures and musical contexts, says Samuel Mehr of Harvard University. So Mehr and his colleagues decided to use data science to try to understand what was universal and what varied in music across the world. To do this, they developed a database containing around 5000 detailed descriptions of songs and their performances in 60 human societies.”

From birth to death: an archive of vanishing African rituals seeks a home (Reuters)

Reuters: From birth to death: an archive of vanishing African rituals seeks a home. “Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher have traversed 44 of Africa’s 54 countries over four decades, documenting rituals used to mark milestones such as birth, death, and courtship, the graduation of girl to woman or the moment a warrior becomes a respected elder. Now their archive – comprising more than a million images, hundreds of artifacts and field diaries, and thousands of hours of video – is looking for a home.”

Educause Review: Managing the Cultural Record in the Information Warfare Era

Educause Review: Managing the Cultural Record in the Information Warfare Era. “Several rapidly emerging lines of technology development and exploitation are converging, and they are going to change the world in the next decade. They will have massive social and political impact; indeed, we are already far down that path, as I’ll discuss shortly. These trajectories will create new complexities for a wide range of scholarly investigations. They will challenge us to rethink the way we define and teach information literacy. They will demand that memory institutions such as libraries and archives reconsider the documentation and contextualization of the cultural record, and they may even drive the creation of new public infrastructure supported by memory institutions and responsible content creators and distributors.”

EurekAlert: Reprocessing cultural heritage

EurekAlert: Reprocessing cultural heritage . “‘Although historical film recordings and documentaries exist, these often do not do justice to the scientific demands of a comprehensive documentation of the craft’, explained Rosa von Suess, UAS Lecturer and Head of the project at St. Pölten UAS. ‘The goal of our project is to combine traditional woodworking with new innovative forms of conveyance and presentation thus making this old knowledge usable for future generations’, said Michael Grabner, project Head from the Institute of Wood Technology and Renewable Materials of the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna.”

Smithsonian: How the Cell Phone Is Forever Changing Human Communication

A little far afield, but I find it fascinating so there. From Smithsonian Magazine: How the Cell Phone Is Forever Changing Human Communication. “Sure — it may sound ridiculous that Snapchat, an application through which friends send pictures that can only be viewed for a few seconds before deletion, has the ability to destroy relationships, but cell phones have started a new type of conversation, one that has catalyzed the restructuring of our social environment. Every picture, every snapchat, every punctuation mark is part of a new form of language brought about by a new tool of communication.”

National Geographic: Can Archivists Save the World’s Newest Nation?

MORE good stuff from the National Geographic. I try not to use the same sources in an issue but this is really good. Can Archivists Save the World’s Newest Nation? “…even as the nation teeters on the brink of civil war and famine, a cadre of brave archivists, curators, and folklorists are working to preserve and protect the culture and history of South Sudan. [Deng Nhial] Chiok, a 49-year-old anthropologist, is one of them. In twice-weekly cultural heritage classes, he tries to ensure that a generation raised in refugee camps will inherit the folktales, dances, and history of their ancestors. When Chiok’s students raise their hands, they grapple with how to preserve this identity in the chaos of war.”

Hanyang University (Korea) Developing Database of Overseas Cultural Heritage

In development: a Korean database of overseas cultural heritage. (Read on, it’ll make sense.) “Hanyang University announced Monday that it had completed the first year of a project to create a database for overseas cultural heritage in Korea. Led by anthropology professor Bae Ki-dong, the team’s endeavor took off in September 2015 for a three-year investigation under the support of the National Research Foundation of Korea. Roughly 20,000 artifacts from 100 museums across the country will be subject to the study, he said, 11,099 (from 40 museums) of which are now part of the database.”