University of Canterbury CEISMIC launches website

27 October 2011

The UC CEISMIC (Canterbury Earthquake Digital Archive) is launching its website at an event at Canterbury Museum this evening, beginning at 6pm.

The UC CEISMIC (Canterbury Earthquake Digital Archive) is launching its website at an event at Canterbury Museum this evening, beginning at 6pm.

When completed this web site will be the portal to a world-class, federated archive of earthquake stories, images and media. Users will be able to search across New Zealand’s digital heritage collections for earthquake-related content and find places where they can contribute their own material.

The CEISMIC consortium, led by the University of Canterbury, includes the National Library, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Christchurch City Libraries, CERA, Te Papa, Canterbury Museum, NZ On Screen and the Ngai Tahu Research Centre. These organisations are committed to preserving and then sharing content for the benefit of all New Zealanders.

“The CEISMIC project was inspired by the 9-11 project developed by the Centre for History and New Media at George Mason University,” said Associate Professor Paul Millar, Director of CEISMIC and lecturer in English at the University of Canterbury. “They learned that collecting such material is time-critical. Already Canterbury’s stories are being lost as people try to move on, perhaps deleting their earthquake-related emails, texts, phone messages, images and movies in the process.”

The focus of is on community participation and commemoration, but the site will also provide an essential resource for local and international researchers and students. With the needs of students and researchers in mind the University of Canterbury is not only leading the CEISMIC Consortium, but has started building an important new asset for New Zealand’s national cultural heritage infrastructure behind the scenes. ‘Quakestudies’, which will go live early next year, will promote and facilitate research into disaster impact and recovery, complementing the Ministry for Culture and Heritage’s website.

“We’re building for the long term,” said Professor Millar. “Quakestudies can scale up to hold millions of digital objects. It will be like an Olympic swimming pool— really well designed, but largely empty to begin with. Our researchers and students will spend years filling it. In the coming decades you’ll be able to plunge in and find it full of material carefully preserved for future generations and other communities that experience disasters. We are motivated by the belief that what we have learned and experienced through the earthquakes can benefit others in the future.

“It is fitting, given everything they’ve endured, that University of Canterbury students will drive the CEISMIC project. Selected students will work as interns and research assistants to create and curate earthquake content. We’re also establishing New Zealand’s first Digital Humanities teaching programme around CEISMIC, and we’ll be offering Humanities-focused courses in web design, software development, project management, writing for the web and critical analysis of online content. We’ve even equipped our own mobile recording studio— ‘The Quake Box’ —in a donated container which will be staffed by students and deployed at places where people can record their earthquake stories.”

CEISMIC will be announcing major project partners at its launch.

For more information please contact: 
Jacquie Walters
Public Relations Consultant
University of Canterbury
Ph: 027 503 0168

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