What is Paradisec?

PARADISEC (Pacific And Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures) is a cross-institutional collaborative project for digital archiving and access to Australian researchers' field recordings of endangered languages and music's of the Asia-Pacific region. Paradisec is a service housed at the University of Sydney.

Paradisec logo

Many students have the experience of getting involved with the organization, whilst taking specific courses, which allows them to gain further insight into the process of digitizing endangered materials. In addition many of the academics that contribute to this website work with Paradisec and utilize their services in digitizing materials acquired during fieldwork. Paradisec is an invaluable resource that has allowed for the digitization of the many of the resources found on this website.

PARADISEC (Pacific And Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures) offers a facility for digital conservation and access for endangered materials from the Pacific region, defined broadly to include Oceania and East and Southeast Asia. Their research group has developed models to ensure that the archive can provide access to interested communities, and conforms with emerging international standards for digital archiving.

The group also have an established framework for accessioning, cataloguing and digitising audio, text and visual material, as well as preserving digital copies. The primary focus of this initial stage is safe preservation of material that would otherwise be lost, especially field tapes from the 1950s and 1960s.


Paradisec at work

The Paradisec group at work.

PARADISEC offers a number of services for cost recovery fees, including digitisation of audio material and training in ethnographic documentation techniques of recording, data management, and data linkage. Topics covered include:
  • use and comparative advantages of types of recording equipment;
  • lexicographic software;
  • transcription and interlinearising of texts;
  • linkage of digitised audio and transcripts;
  • managing information as it is collected to facilitate later access;
  • assessment and cataloguing of data collections.

Data Preservation

Tape recorder

Paradisec can digitise audio tape and reel-to-reel formats

Recorded material needs to be preserved in a way that allows it to be read into the future. Reel to reel and cassette tapes are becoming obsolete and playing them is becoming more difficult. If there is only one copy of the recorded material it is even more vulnerable to being lost, in cyclones, fires or simply as a result of poor storage conditions.

PARADISEC adopts current best practice for preserving audio data by digitising it at the highest quality available and storing several copies in separate locations. PARADISEC makes digital copies of tapes and returns the originals to depositors or their institutions. The group provide secure interim storage while tapes are being processed but cannot offer long term storage.

Information Recovery

Restoring data

Paradisec can restore data that is in non-digital formats.

Cataloguing information (or metadata) accompanies all items in the collection. In addition, the catalogue references items which have been assessed for eventual incorporation into the archive, but which are not currently in digital form. This permits otherwise undiscoverable resources to be located. The collection is catalogued using descriptors based on Dublin Core and the Open Languages Archives Community (OLAC) recommendations, which also conform to the Open Archives Initiative guidelines.

PARADISEC's current metadata set is available for download from our website. By using these metadata standards we are able to share information about what is located in the collection. The goal is that any resource from the region be discoverable regardless of where it is located, and regardless of where the researcher is located. Access to the data itself requires permission which is specified for each item in the collection.

Cultural Renewal

A founding principle for PARADISEC is that small and endangered cultures need support for locating and reintroducing material that was recorded in the past. Ensuring that the material is well cared for means that it can be made available into the future. Digital outputs from PARADISEC are available in various formats depending on the needs of the users. While audio files are archived at high resolution, they can be made available as MP3 or other formats for delivery on CD or over the web.

For further information on Paradisec please visit the PARADISEC website at www.paradisec.org.au. The website includes further information about the services they provide the seminars they host as well as costing information. This website is also an invaluable resource for relevant links to endangered languages resources and information about up coming events and new innovations in the area of documenting endangered languages.

Webpage created by Voxcomm, a 2005 Arts Informatics Project. All information, images and media copyright of the Linguistics Department, USYD, 2005.