Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 22nd 2013 Contents A28
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Yesterday I attended a round-table
discussion on digitising the broad-
cast archive of the Government
Information Services Ltd (GISL).
Held at the Old Fire Station, Port-
of-Spain, in commemoration of
Unesco s World Day for Audio Visual
Heritage 2013, the round table began
with an overview of a pilot project,
begun officially in May, for GISL to
collaborate with UWI to make digital
versions of selected recordings.
Such material needs to be digitised
because it is on a variety of media---
all of them frangible and deteriorating
over time. Some of the media are
obsolete---remember reel-to-reel tape?
And there is a scarcity of replay
equipment and people skilled in its
Two UWI cultural studies post-
graduate students, Nigel Diaz and
Marvin George, worked as interns to
log and catalogue the content of the
selected recordings. The project has
three phases: content organisation
(the research phase); tape
dubbing/transfer (the digitisation
phase); and final compilation output
(the preservation phase).
The tapes, they said, generally fall
into three broad categories: social
history, festivals and performances,
and rituals and religion. The interns
ask questions in organising the con-
tent, such as who might find it use-
ful, and how best to catalogue it so it
can be useful at all. After all, if you
don t know it s there, you won t
know to look for it.
Distinguished speakers at the round
table---all men, incidentally---each
gave their take on historical preserva-
tion and archiving. Brinsley Samaroo,
Gordon Rohlehr, Ravi-Ji, Christopher
Laird and Michael Anthony, facilitated
by Louis Regis, each had something
incisive to say. It s impossible for me
to capture everything in this column,
but I ll pick out a few points.
"It seemed to me we are sitting on
a treasure trove of information that
nobody knows anything about," said
Rohlehr, a UWI professor emeritus of
literature whose specialty in research
has been the calypso. He was talking
about the National Archives, where,
he said, in the past he had seen files
on hundreds of censored calypsoes.
The files had been classified by num-
bers, not by identifiable keywords.
"You don t know what is in this
folder," he said, but admitted, "I
don t know if it s so now."
Christopher Laird spoke to a similar
conundrum in explaining the project
he is undertaking to digitise the
3,000 tapes on T&T culture that his
company, Banyan, has made over the
past 35-40 years.
UWI and York University in Toron-
to, are partners with him in the proj-
ect, which has been going on for
three years but has only digitised 20
per cent of the material and has cat-
alogued or produced metadata on the
contents of only 15 per cent of the
"I don t have the money" to do it
as an individual, he said, adding that
he had not been able to get corporate
or state funds to digitise these tapes.
"Before I dead and before the library
in my head goes, this has to be writ-
ten, because if I die now I m one of
the only persons who knows what s
on them---because I shot them.
"I m concerned, too, that this is
not just available to researchers but
to the world."
Nalis Executive Director Lucia
Phillip said the National Library was
also collaborating with UWI, along
with the National Archives, to create
a portal for the public to explore our
digitally available heritage material.
The prototype for this would be
launched within two months, she
Maureen Webster-Prince, informa-
tion resources manager at GISL,
assured the gathering, "The ultimate
plan is, after we have digitised and
got the metadata...to get a digital
asset management system. We want
to set up a national broadcasting
archive, one central point where you
can get information about what is
She added, "We can ask Cabinet to
say the collection belongs to the
Government and people of T&T."
Archive or artifact hoarding and
limited public access came up more
than once, and Ravi-Ji, a cultural
activist, suggested that perhaps what
was needed was a national project to
get children to ferret out cultural
artifacts from the community and
incrementally move up the ladder to
create a national culture of archiving.
GISL and UWI will officially launch
the digitisation project later this
week, after which they will require
the public s help to identify parts of
the content that has been uploaded.
This is an exciting initiative. I hope
it does not stutter to a halt before it
can make significant inroads into the
hundreds of thousands of hours of
footage about T&T that exist, but
which are essentially lost to time
until they are digitised, logged and
TAPES FOR TOMORROW Range Rover story goes international
This has been happening for a long time but just to score political
points it is brought out in the open now.
Those who are quick to smear Ms Anna Deonarine-Rampersad
as being involved in the theft should take the time to understand,
learn and be aware of this type of crime. Many individuals would be
surprised to know how the theft of goods, machinery, automobiles
etc, has become a world problem.
Some of those individuals who are pointing fingers may now be
driving one of these roll on roll off cars which may have been stolen
and shipped and transferred to one or two countries before coming
to T&T with paperwork which appear to be legit.
This type of crime is not isolated to vehicles but also clothes, fur-
niture, grocery items etc, you name it and the criminal is involved
Here we go again. Something happens in T&T, makes interna-
tional news and people start bawling about it making T&T "look
bad". No, it does not.
The world does not revolve around T&T. This kind of crime has
been going on for years. That does not make it right but why, of all
the countries on the receiving end of vehicles from international
stolen car rings, is T&T the one "looking bad"?
How many people any place in the world give a rat's behind about
some vehicle stolen in England five years ago and "sold" to an un-
We need to do a better job of keeping our eyes on the issues and
not let said smart men and women use our parochial nature against
us, especially at election time.
The only reason this has become a major news story is because
one of the players involved is the deputy political leader of the ILP.
This stuff happens every day in North America where expensive
vehicles are stolen, VIN numbers are removed and the vehicles are
shipped abroad, mainly to the continent of Africa.
TTUTA takes MOE to task as ten schools remain closed
That's out and out slackness on the part of the Ministry. The buck
stops with you, Dr Tim!
Cascade residents live in fear as stray pit bull still on the loose
"Residents wealthy enough to look after stray dogs themselves."
What sort of statement is that coming from a person of the Re-
Hopefully after this election we would see councilors with a new
zest and drive to work in their areas for the people who elected
LISA ALLEN AGOSTINI
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