How new media tools assist in preserving language

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New media makes it possible for anyone to create, modify and share Indigenous language content with others, using relatively simple tools that are often free or inexpensive. New media requires a computer, tablet or mobile device with Internet access.

New media tools can help you:

  • CONNECT people with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language information and services.
  • COLLABORATE with other people working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages —including those within your organization or community.
  • CREATE new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language content, communities and channels of communication that help you deliver information and services.


In Queensland, over 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and dialects were once spoken. Today around 50 of these remain spoken (in varying degrees), with less than 20 being used as first languages, predominantly in the north of the state, i.e. Cape York and the Torres Strait islands.

The development of technology, particularly New Media, has created opportunities for communities to revive, document, preserve and raise awareness of endangered languages. Following is a list of New Media tools and other resources that can be utilised to support language communities.

Blogs - are websites with regular updates and typically combine text, images (graphics or video) as well as links to other webpages. Blogs are usually informal, taking on the tone of a diary or journal entry. Many blogs encourage dialogue by allowing their readers to leave comments. Blogs provide opportunities for you to share information and engage in an online conversation with your target audience(s). Some common free blogging platforms include: Blogger & WordPress. Examples of language-related blogs include:

History Pin - is a digital, user-generated archive of historical photos, videos, audio recordings and personal recollections. Users are able to use the location and date of their content to "pin" it to Google Maps. This content can be added and explored online and via a series of Smartphone applications: Historypin | About
Mashups – A mashup is a website “that combines data from more than one source into a single integrated tool”. Data sources often include maps (such as Google Maps) and databases (such as business locations). Creating your own mashup requires a certain level of understanding of software technology, but there are several online tools that do not require technical expertise. You can customize many ready-made mashups by using your own data. If you are interested in creating your own mashups, tools such as ZeeMaps can help get you started.

Mobile – Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are basically small portable computers. Mobile encompasses many things - the mobile web, mobile applications, and text messaging. The mobile web allows you to visit websites on your device with a mobile browser. You can install mobile applications or “apps” on your mobile device to perform specific tasks. While some wireless devices come with apps, you can also download apps from an online app store such as:
* App Store for iPhone & Apple products.
* Google Play for Android products.
Examples of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Language Apps (Australia):
Ma! Iwaidja – Iwaidja language, based on Croker Island in North western Arnhem Land-Northern Territory.
Ma! Gamilaraay – Gamilaraay language from North-West New South Wales and South-West Queensland.
NT Languages - Anindilyakwa – Anindilyakwa language - bilingual literacy tool for people of all ages in Anindilyakwa communities, as well as English-speaking workers and visitors to the Groote Eylandt region, in the Gulf of Carpentaria, in Northern Australia.
Sharing the Dreaming – Nyoongar language (Western Australia) - the culture of the Nyoongar, the traditional custodians of Australia’s South-West.
Wiradjuri Dictionary – explores the Wiradjuri language  of Central-Western NSW.
Yawuru Ngan Ga – Yawuru language from Broome in Western Australia.
Yugambeh – Yugambeh Aboriginal language from the Gold Coast, Logan and Scenic Rim regions in South-East Queensland.

Online Collaboration Tools – Online collaboration tools allow for people to work together via the internet, allowing any user to add and edit content. One of the most commonly known online collaboration tools is Wikipedia, the collaborative online encyclopaedia. Wiki technology creates a webpage that anyone with permission to access can modify quickly and easily. The following wiki page is a good example where a page has been created for an Aboriginal community:,_Queensland
Popular wiki platforms include PBWorks and twiki.

Photo Sharing Sites - Photo sharing sites allow you to literally “share photos” online with your friends, family and colleagues. With photo sharing sites, users can connect with each other by leaving comments and tagging photos with keywords or descriptions. Many users on photos sharing sites offer their photos under a Creative Commons license so others may use them. Common photo sharing sites include Flickr, Shutterfly, Picasa, and Photobucket. State Library of Queensland has a range of albums on Flickr:

Podcasts – Podcasts (a blend of the terms “iPod” and “broadcast”) are audio or video files that you can listen to or watch on your computer or portable media device. They are often free, short, and part of a series. You can subscribe to receive new podcasts automatically and stream or download them from a website or a variety of podcast directories such as iTunes, Podbean, or SoundCloud. Podcasts can be an easy and inexpensive way to provide information to your target audience(s); ABC Radio National Indigenous language podcasts:
QR Codes – “QR” (“quick response”) codes store information in a two-dimensional square barcode. When scanned with a smartphone, QR codes direct users to mobile websites and other functions on their mobile phones. People interact with QR codes by scanning the barcode with their mobile phone camera with a QR reader application which detects the QR code and uncovers additional layers of information about a site, artefact, mural, etc.. An example of where it has been used is cultural walking trails, e.g. Whadjuk:

RSS Feeds – “RSS” stands for “Real Simple Syndication.” RSS feeds are a way for websites to distribute their content to people automatically. With an RSS feed, you subscribe to a particular website and automatically receive updates via email or a news reader. Some common RSS readers include Feedly, NetVibes and Newisfree.
Tools that will allow you to receive RSS feeds via email include Feedblitz.
RSS feed (need to subscribe) for Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages:

Social bookmarking – is a way to store, organise, and search your favourite webpages on the Internet. In a social bookmarking site, you can save links to web pages that you want to remember and/or share. There are many social bookmarking sites, but some of the most popular ones are Delicious and diigo. Others like digg, reddit, StumbleUpon and Pinterest allow you to comment on and share other people’s bookmarks and can be used as a visual bookmarking medium.

Social Network Sites – Social network sites are online communities that give you opportunities to connect with, or provide resources to, clients, colleagues, family, and friends who share common interests. Examples of general social networking sites include Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn.

Texting – Text messaging is a way of sending information to and from cell phones and certain personal digital assistants (PDAs). A text message can be sent to individual or multiple mobile phones and devices – some communities are using Indigenous languages for texting.

Twitter – You can think of Twitter as a “micro-blog.” You use your computer or mobile phone to broadcast short messages, or “tweets,” that are limited to 140 characters. People can sign up on Twitter to follow your tweets.

Video Games – Video and computer games are interactive games you play on game devices (such as Nintendo’s Wii, Xbox, and PlayStation), and computers.

Video Sharing Sites – Video sharing sites allow you to upload and share online videos similar to photo sharing sites. YouTube is the most well-known of these types of sites. Online video sharing sites allow you to upload and share online videos similar to photo sharing sites. One of the most common video sharing sites is YouTube. Other video-sharing sites include Vimeo and Vine which is a mobile app allowing users to share videos up to 6 seconds long via Twitter and Facebook. Users can connect with each other, send messages, and leave comments, share videos and search for information.

Webcasts/ Webinars – A webcast is a way of broadcasting over the Internet. A webinar is a specific type of web conference. A webcast may either be distributed live or recorded, and may be a one-way presentation or presented interactively. You can host and/or participate from your own computer, and often can interact by phone or online through the webcasting program. Some of the vendors for webcast, web conference, and webinar programs include WebEx, GoTo Webinar and ReadyTalk. These services usually require a paid subscription. Google Hangouts is a free web conference tool.

Widgets – Widgets, Gadgets, call them what you’d like, but there is definitely a lot of buzz around these small applications that you can embed in a social network site, blog, or website. A web widget is a small application that you can embed in a social network site, blog, or website to share content. For example, you can develop your own widget to push out your content or you can copy the code from an existing widget to automatically bring content into your website or blog. Common content of widgets are photo and video viewers, polls, fundraising, or RSS feeds (e.g. Twitter, news headlines on a particular subject). There are many free or inexpensive services that provide tools to create, customize, and distribute your widget. Some examples include Snacktools, Gigya, and Widgetbox.

Different people have varying levels of familiarity and comfort with technology.

People may come to your site seeking general information; or they may be an individual seeking a particular resource or looking for support. For example, they may be looking for a tool they can adopt or modify to connect with others.

Learning about your audiences is an ongoing process. Online feedback forms are an effective way to gather information and ensure that your New Media activity is meeting the needs of its' intended audience.

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