Did you know that there were over 200 different aboriginal languages in Australia? Of those, there are now only about 20 that are still in use today - the rest have essentially been wiped out. What's more, the Asia Pacific region is home to about a third of the world's indigenous languages, many which are now facing the possibility of being lost forever.
But, thankfully, a group of Australian scientists are in the process of digitising and cataloging these languages so that they will never be completely lost. The Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures (PARADISEC) is a collaboration between ANU and the universities of Melbourne, Sydney and New England. Already in its data banks are thousands of pages of notes, plus hours and hours of audio recordings as part of their research.
The archive has just won a Victorian eResearch Strategic Initiative (VeRSI) Award in humanities and social sciences, which gave them a $26,000 PowerEdge 2950 rack mountable Dell server as their prize.
In the future, it's efforts like this that will form the basis of cultural and historical studies throughout a large part of the world. Sadly, it's probably inevitable that these smaller cultures get absorbed into the global machine, but at least we'll have some record of the past. And probably on a Dell server, no less.
[Science in Public - Thanks Niall!]