Using Crowdsourcing to preserve Indigenous Knowledge for Rural Communities in Namibia

Posted in Ongoing Student Projects

By Colin Stanley ( PhD Candidate )

This research is investigating how rural communities in Namibia could crowdsource graphic designs as part of preserving their Indigenous Knowledge (IK). IK is knowledge mastered by local communities through their cultural practices and survival tactics. IK is usually orally communicated by elders in rural communities in Namibia as compared to scientific knowledge published in research papers. Since IK has not been recorded in any persistent format those that are well equipped with IK when they pass on, they leave with the wealth of IK thus, IK is disappearing. It is based on this background that prompts the importance of preserving IK. As an initial effort to preserve IK, a 3D tablet application HomeSteadCreator (HSC) was developed for the ovaHerero rural communities from Erindi-roukambe, Omaheke region, Namibia (Rodil et al, 2012). 

(continued...)  The tool allows users to construct their homesteads and create scenarios by using 3D objects representing real elements in the rural surroundings to be placed on a ground soil look-alike surface. One of the challenges of preserving IK in a wider context is to adapt the HSC application from rural community to the next different one. In order for this to succeed the 3D models representing the objects of the former rural community needs to be removed and new ones crafted specifically for the new different rural community has to be designed. One of the challenges of preserving IK in a wider context is to adapt the HSC application from rural community to the next different one. In order for this to succeed the 3D models representing the objects of the former rural community needs to be removed and new ones crafted specifically for the new different rural community has to be designed. Considering then individual customizations would be rather time consuming and costly, and that thus-far there is a scarcity of indigenous knowledgeable 3D graphic designers. We pursue supporting crowdsourcing of 3D models as locally defined by Namibian rural communities first and then globally delivered. The present study thus aims at investigating how such indigenous communities could make a graphic request to be communicated to the graphics designers on the World Wide Web (task formulation). Moreover how the indigenous communities could evaluate the delivered graphics (task evaluation).