Posted to the Ethnos Project by on December 28th, 2011

12/30/11: Added Archon, Kete, and Open Exhibits.
5/12/12: Added DAITSS, DPSP, HOPPLA, and RODA.
6/8/12: Added Vannotea & Indigenous Knowledge Management Software.
5/13/13: Added ELAN.
7/5/15: Added ArchivesSpace, CollectionSpace, Islandora.

In honor of the new year, I thought I’d offer a list of (now 29) free and open source digital curation, asset management & community archiving systems that may be of interest to communities (Indigenous or not) seeking to sustain and share words, images, videos, sounds, collections, etc.

These tools are free in that you can download the source files onto your computer without cost. To make them useful as tools, however, you will need to have a domain name registered and hosted with an Internet Service Provider – and in general, those do cost money. A few of the items listed below are listed “as is”, by which I mean that they may no longer be in active development or may be of limited functionality. Others, are hot off the press and highly extensible (offering plugins and modules from an active community of developers). In short – they are not all created equal.

I do not offer reviews of them (the text below is from their respective websites), although I have installed, experimented with and customized several of them. Since I do not profess to be either an expert in the items listed or a spokesperson on their behalf, I recommend contacting their creators directly if you have questions about their ability to serve your particular needs.

A few caveats: I included a few items below that don’t exactly fit the title of this post… WordPress is listed although it is a blogging platform and content management system (CMS) and not technically a curation, asset management or community archiving tool. It is however, a simple to learn, extensible, customizable, multi-faceted platform that could easily be crafted into a community solution depending on the requirements. If you wish to explore the ever-changing world of free and open source CMS’s, you may wish to stop by the CMS Matrix to compare:

Likewise, I include Ushahidi which is known by many to be a crisis mapping tool. However, I have often imagined that a creative community could put it to use as a system for capturing and sharing cultural artifacts, traditional knowledge, etc.

Please do leave a comment if you believe this list to be lacking. It is presented here not as an exhaustive list, but as an invitation for exploration and discussion.

Cheers – and have a successful and fulfilling new year!
Mark Oppenneer

Adlib Museum Lite
Adlib Museum Lite is a software package that enables small museums and private collectors to record details of their collections in a straightforward yet professional way. Best of all, they can do so without any costs, because Adlib Museum Lite is completely free.

Almagest is a relational data base that can be used to store and organize a wide range of media, and create a network of bi-directional links among objects, people, texts and ideals. Almagest creates a web-based, permanent archive of data of many types. Because the underlying database is relational, the link structure provides an almost limitless set of complex relationships that catalog, annotate and cross-reference data. The database can be used for research projects and courses.

Built for archives by archivists, ArchivesSpace is the open source archives information management application for managing and providing web access to archives, manuscripts and digital objects.

Archon is award-winning software for archivists and manuscript curators. It automatically publishes archival descriptive information and digital archival objects in a user-friendly website. With Archon, there is no need to encode a finding aid, input a catalog record, or program a stylesheet. Archon’s powerful scripts will automatically make everything in the system searchable and browsable on your repository’s website.

ccHost is an open source (GPL licensed) project that provides web-based infrastructure to support collaboration, sharing, and storage of multi-media using the Creative Commons licenses and metadata. Besides its focus on sharing content, ccHost differentiates itself from other multi-media hosting programs by emphasizing the reuse (a.k.a. remixing) of content between artists, not only between artists on any given installation of ccHost, but between all installations across the web and any web site that implements the Creative Commons Sample Pool API, including non-ccHost sites such as the freesound project.

CollectionSpace is a free, open-source, web-based software application for the description, management, and dissemination of museum collections information. The CollectionSpace team and community is made up of museum professionals, software engineers, and interaction designers.

Collective Access
CollectiveAccess is a highly configurable cataloguing tool and web-based application for museums, archives and digital collections. Available free of charge under the GPL open-source license, it requires little to no custom programming to support a variety of metadata standards, external data sources and repositories, as well as most popular media formats. In addition to multilingual cataloguing facilities, it allows publication of this data in the languages of your choice.

Current users include representatives from a wide range of fields: fine art, anthropology, film, oral history, local history, architecture, material culture, biodiversity conservation, libraries, corporate archives, digital asset management, and many more. This community of partners has contributed funding, planning and software development resources, resulting in a series of specialist features.

Collex is an open-source collections- and exhibits-builder designed to aid humanities scholars working in digital collections or within federated research environments. Collex operates under the assumption that the best paths through a complex digital resource are those forged by use and interpretation.

A Collex approach works to assist scholars in recording, sharing, and building on the interpretive purposes to which they put their online teaching and research environments. Collex leverages current developments in folksonomy and semantic-web technology to perform data mining operations and enhance knowledge discovery.

Concerto is a digital assets management tool written in PHP and built on top of the Harmoni Application Framework. Concerto uses Harmoni’s implementation of the Open Knowledge Initiative Open Service Interface Definitions for its repository back-end.

Concerto consists of collections and exhibitions. Collections are archives of assets that are accessible via user interfaces for searching and browsing. Exhibitions are groups of slideshows that allow users to present assets from various collections in a particular order with specific annotations.

Dark Archive in the Sunshine State (DAITSS)
DAITSS provides automated support for the functions of Submission, Ingest, Archival Storage, Access, Withdrawal, and Repository Management. It is architected as a set of RESTful Web Services and micro-services but enforces strict controls to ensure the integrity and authenticity of archived content. It implements active preservation strategies based on format-specific processing including, where necessary, normalization and forward migration. It is particularly well suited for materials in text, document, image, audio and video formats.

Digital Preservation Software Platform (DPSP)
The Digital Preservation Software Platform (DPSP) is free and open source software developed by the National Archives of Australia. The DPSP is a collection of software applications which support the goal of digital preservation.

The DPSP comprises: Xena (XML Electronic Normalising for Archives) which converts digital files to standards based, open formats; DPR (Digital Preservation Recorder), which handles bulk preservation of digital files via an automated workflow; Checksum Checker, software that is used to monitor the contents of a digital archive for data loss or corruption; and Manifest Maker, which produces a tab-separated list of digital files in a specified location. The manifest includes the checksum, path and filename of each digital file.

Digital Asset Management Database (DAMD)
This tool has two primary functions that can be used together or separately: it provides basic digital asset management for simple to complex media objects and it easily transforms collections information into an extensible variety of standards-based XML formats, such as METS and OAI, to allow even small organizations without technical staff to share their collections broadly and participate in building a national network of culture. DAMD was developed as an “open solution,” built on FileMaker Pro software (8.5 or above) because of the broad base of installed users of FileMaker in the museum and arts communities. DAMD is available for free to cultural organizations. The tool, and its unique export/transform functions (detailed in the documentation), are open-ended, allowing organizations to customize the tool for themselves or the community to improve the tool for all.

DSpace is the software of choice for academic, non-profit, and commercial organizations building open digital repositories. It is free and easy to install “out of the box” and completely customizable to fit the needs of any organization.

DSpace preserves and enables easy and open access to all types of digital content including text, images, moving images, mpegs and data sets. And with an ever-growing community of developers, committed to continuously expanding and improving the software, each DSpace installation benefits from the next.

With ELAN a user can add an unlimited number of annotations to audio and/or video streams. An annotation can be a sentence, word or gloss, a comment, translation or a description of any feature observed in the media. Annotations can be created on multiple layers, called tiers. Tiers can be hierarchically interconnected. An annotation can either be time-aligned to the media or it can refer to other existing annotations. The textual content of annotations is always in Unicode and the transcription is stored in an XML format. ELAN provides several different views on the annotations, each view is connected and synchronized to the media playhead.

Fedora (Flexible Extensible Digital Object Repository Architecture) was originally developed by researchers at Cornell University as an architecture for storing, managing, and accessing digital content in the form of digital objects inspired by the Kahn and Wilensky Framework. Fedora defines a set of abstractions for expressing digital objects, asserting relationships among digital objects, and linking “behaviors” (i.e., services) to digital objects.

The Fedora Repository Project (i.e., Fedora) implements the Fedora abstractions in a robust open source software system. Fedora provides a core repository service (exposed as web-based services with well-defined APIs). In addition, Fedora provides an array of supporting services and applications including search, OAI-PMH, messaging, administrative clients, and more. Fedora provides RDF support and the repository software is integrated with semantic triple store technology, including the Mulgara RDF database. Fedora helps ensure that digital content is durable by providing features that support digital preservation.

The aim of the Greenstone software is to empower users, particularly in universities, libraries, and other public service institutions, to build their own digital libraries. Digital libraries are radically reforming how information is disseminated and acquired in UNESCO’s partner communities and institutions in the fields of education, science and culture around the world, and particularly in developing countries. We hope that this software will encourage the effective deployment of digital libraries to share information and place it in the public domain.

Home and Office Painless Persistent Long-term Archiving (HOPPLA)
Hoppla is an archiving solution that combines back-up and fully automated migration services for data collections in small office environments. The system allows user-friendly handling of services and outsources digital preservation expertise. An increasing amount of digital collection held by small institutions, SOHOs (Small Office/Home Office) and private users with limited know-how and awareness of digital preservation drives the need for new approaches of fully-automated archiving systems.

Indigenous Knowledge Management Software
A set of software tools (XML Metadata Editor/Generator Application (XMEG) and a Search, Browse & Retrieval Interface) designed to enable Indigenous communities to protect their unique cultures and knowledge which are being preserved through digitisation. The software tools enable authorised members of communities to: define and control the rights, accessibility and reuse of their digital resources; uphold tribal customary laws pertaining to secret/sacred knowledge or objects; prevent the misuse of Indigenous heritage in culturally inappropriate or insensitive ways; ensure proper attribution; and finally to enable communities to describe their resources in their own words.

Islandora is an open-source software framework designed to help institutions and organizations and their audiences collaboratively manage, and discover digital assets using a best-practices framework. Islandora was originally developed by the University of Prince Edward Island’s Robertson Library, but is now implemented and contributed to by an ever-growing international community.

Kete is a collaboration engine. It is open source software that you can use to create and share online. Write topics and upload images, audio, video, documents. Discuss them all. Link them together.

Martus is a secure information management tool that allows you to create a searchable and encrypted database and back this data up remotely to your choice of publicly available servers. The Martus software is used by organizations around the world to protect sensitive information and shield the identity of victims or witnesses who provide testimony on human rights abuses. Martus is the Greek word for witness. Learn more about Martus software.

The Martus software can be downloaded free from this website. An open source software tool, Martus is used by human rights workers, attorneys, journalists and others who need to secure their information from eavesdropping, theft or equipment failure.

Mukurtu is a free and open source community content management system that provides international standards-based tools adaptable to the local cultural protocols and intellectual property systems of Indigenous communities, libraries, archives, and museums. It is also a flexible archival tool that allows users to protect, preserve and share digital cultural heritage through Mukurtu Core steps and unique Traditional Knowledge licenses.

Omeka is a free, flexible, and open source web-publishing platform for the display of library, museum, archives, and scholarly collections and exhibitions. Its “five-minute setup” makes launching an online exhibition as easy as launching a blog. Omeka falls at a crossroads of Web Content Management, Collections Management, and Archival Digital Collections Systems.

Omeka is designed with non-IT specialists in mind, allowing users to focus on content and interpretation rather than programming. It brings Web 2.0 technologies and approaches to academic and cultural websites to foster user interaction and participation. It makes top-shelf design easy with a simple and flexible templating system. Its robust open-source developer and user communities underwrite Omeka’s stability and sustainability.

Open Exhibits
The Open Exhibits SDK is an open source multitouch framework for Flash, designed for students and educators, museums, nonprofits, and U.S. Government agencies.

The Open Video Digital Library Toolkit
The Open Video Digital Library Toolkit (OVDLT) project is intended to provide museums, libraries and other institutions holding moving image collections tools to more easily create Web-based digital video libraries. Funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and now released as an open source product under the MIT License, the OVDLT project provides a no cost solution for libraries, archives, museums, and other institutions who want to make available their digital video resources through their own Web-based digital library.

The Public Knowledge Project
The research and software development [Open Journal Systems, Open Conference Systems, Open Monograph Press, and Open Harvester Systems] of the Public Knowledge Project speaks to the urgent need for a greater understanding of these new technologies’ potential contribution to knowledge’s public sphere, even as scholarly organizations and publishers increasingly turn to the web. While its work is focused on improving the scholarly quality of publishing processes, it also seeks to expand the realm of public education by improving social science’s contribution to public knowledge, in the belief that such a contribution is critical to academic freedom, the public use of reason, and deliberative forms of democracy.

PKP has developed free, open source software for the management, publishing, and indexing of journals and conferences. Open Journal Systems and Open Conference Systems increase access to knowledge, improve management, and reduce publishing costs. Open Harvester systems allows the creation of centralized search services on metadata from Open Archives Initiative-compliant databases.

The application was originally developed for Oxfam GB by Neale Hall and Dan Huby of Montala Limited and is in daily use by their internal resources team to manage and distribute over 60,000 photo, text and video resources. In the summer of 2006, Oxfam released the product under a BSD-style license and since then significant further development has been funded by a variety of organisations around the world.

Repository of Authentic Digital Objects (RODA)
RODA – Repository of Authentic Digital Objects – aiming at identifying and bringing together all the necessary technology, human resources and political support to carry out long-term preservation of digital materials. As part of the original goals of the project, RODA was the development of a digital repository capable of ingesting, managing and providing continuous access to various types of digital objects produced by national public institutions.

Sakai CLE & OAE
A vibrant community creating technology that enhances teaching, learning and research – the Collaboration and Learning Environment (CLE) and Open Academic Environment (OLE). The global community comes together to define needs of academic users, create software tools, share best practices and pool knowledge and resources in support of this goal.

Each day community members share thousands of interactions – building and improving the software, requesting help, collaborating on projects, and enjoying the relationships that result from this work.

A growing community of public web archives. Our goal is to make formerly inaccessible texts and other artifacts available in an exciting new way to researchers, students, and the general public alike.

Ushahidi, which means “testimony” in Swahili, is a platform that was initially developed to map reports of violence in Kenya after the post-election fallout at the beginning of 2008. The Ushahidi engine is there for “everyday” people to let the world know what is happening in their area during a crisis, emergency or other situation. Bringing awareness, linking those in need to those who can assist, and providing the framework for better visualization of information graphically.

Collaborative indexing, annotation and discussion of audiovisual content over high bandwidth networks. Technologies involved include Annotea, Jabber, Shibboleth, Vic/rat, and XACML (eXtensible Access Control Markup Language).

WordPress is web software you can use to create a beautiful website or blog. We like to say that WordPress is both free and priceless at the same time. The core software is built by hundreds of community volunteers, and when you’re ready for more there are thousands of plugins and themes available to transform your site into almost anything you can imagine. Over 60 million people have chosen WordPress to power the place on the web they call “home”.

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