September 12, 2013
This week, Eric Kansa, program director for Open Context, spoke at Harvard University about digital data publication and emerging research needs in the changing landscape of scholarly communications. His lecture A More Open Future for the Past was the first in a series of lectures on digital scholarship organized by Harvard’s Digital Futures consortium. A September 17 article in the Harvard Gazette presents highlights of the talk.
The Digital Futures consortium includes faculty, researchers, technologists, and librarians engaged in the ongoing transformation of scholarship through innovative technology. They are dedicated to sharing expertise across the global academic community, facilitating new forms and methods of research, and fostering collaborative projects that bring about field-changing developments in scholarship.
June 30, 2013Last week, Eric Kansa, Program Developer for Open Context, was honored at the White House as a Champion of Change in Open Science. The June 20th event honored 13 “leaders and organizations promoting and using open scientific data and publications to accelerate progress and improve our world.” Eric was honored to attend the event as a representative of archaeology, and of the humanities and social sciences in general. Eric has been a vocal advocate and dedicated practitioner of open access and open data in archaeology for the past decade (indeed, he co-founded the Alexandria Archive Institute in 2001 based on these principles). This honor comes at an appropriate time, as the AAI celebrates 10 years of continual funding this summer.
The government is moving toward requiring open access to the results of federally-funded research and this Champions of Change program highlights some of the excellent work being done around open data in a variety of disciplines. Open data in archaeology (as in most of the humanities / social sciences) is still very much in its infancy. This kind of recognition will help draw attention to data sharing efforts. We are delighted to see open science, open data, and open access at the top of the agenda.
While the majority of the 13 Champions of Change in Open Science were from biomedicine, Eric and one other (Will Noel of the Walters Manuscript Collection) represented the humanities. Eric was also the only “Alt-Ac” (alternative academic) honored, as the majority of other honorees hold traditional academic or corporate positions. There is a growing global community of these Alt-Acs, who combine domain and computing expertise and are doing interesting research outside traditional Ivory Tower faculty career paths.
More information about the Champions of Change in Open Science can be found at the following links:
- The list of honorees
- The White House Press release
- The White House blog post
- An interview with Eric
- The announcement from NEH
March 18, 2013
The 41st Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology Conference (CAA 2013) will take place at University Club of Western Australia (Perth) from March 25-28. This year’s theme Across Space and Time, explores technologies and best practices from archaeological and informatics disciplines. AAI/Open Context’s Eric Kansa will deliver a key note presentation on March 26 entitled Reimagining Archaeological Publication for the 21st Century. See his abstract and those of the other two invited speakers here.
Immediately following CAA 2013, the AAI will travel to Honolulu to hold our first working group meeting for our NEH Digital Humanities Implementation project. The workshop will launch a series of collaborative research projects involving groups of scholars working on various aspects of trade and exchange in the ancient Mediterranean world. Following the workshop, participants will be able to take part in the 2013 Society for American Archaeology conference, taking place in Honolulu the same week. The AAI’s presence at the SAA includes a paper Getting the Big Picture by Linking Small Data (“New Technologies in Archaeology” session, 1pm Saturday) and a poster reporting progress on integrating US site file data as part of the NSF-funded Digital Index of North American Archaeology (DINAA) project (poster session 188, Friday 2pm).
On April 17, our Encyclopedia of Life Computable Data Challenge project culminates in an all-hands workshop session at Christian-Albrechts-Universität in Kiel, Germany. The session Into New Landscapes: Subsistence Adaptation and Social Change During the Neolithic Expansion in Central and Western Anatolia is part of the 2013 International Open Workshop with the theme “Socio-Environmental Dynamics over the Last 12,000 Years: The Creation of Landscapes III.” In preparation for this workshop, we have edited and prepared for publication in Open Context over 220,000 specimens from fifteen sites with multiple archaeological phases spanning the Epipaleolithic through Bronze Age in Turkey. This work included aligning the data to ontologies that will facilitate comparison across multiple datasets using Linked Data methods – to date, this amounts to 450 unique taxonomic terms that are now related to 143 URIs in the Encyclopedia of Life. Workshop participants are busy analyzing subsets of the 15 projects now and will present the results of their analysis at the workshop. Presentations will be followed by a group discussion of the results and the development of an outline for a collaborative research paper integrating the different lines of evidence. The synthetic publication will contain links to the project datasets published in Open Context to demonstrate how linking the synthetic work to the underlying data can vastly increase data access and reuse, as well as enhancing the quality of the synthetic work.
September 25, 2012
This month, with funding from the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL), the AAI launched a new project using Linked Open Data to enhance archaeological data sets. A collaborative undertaking by the AAI, Prof. Benjamin Arbuckle (Baylor University), and a team of international zooarchaeologists, the project was one of two winners of the EOL’s Computable Data Challenge. The project brings together a group of international scholars to collaboratively analyze datasets and address questions about human exploitation of early domestic animals in Anatolia. Taxonomic data published in archaeological datasets in Open Context will be related to EOL taxa using a Linked Open Data approach. This will demonstrate the power of Linked Open Data to disambiguate and enhance data published on the Web. See more about the competition and the winning projects.
August 13, 2012
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded a Digital Humanities Implementation grant to the AAI to support data publishing services with Open Context. The 2-year, $261,056 project supports collaborative research and development to enable scholars to relate datasets with other data published on the Web (i.e. Linked (Open) Data methods).
Digital Humanities Implementation grants aim to fund innovative projects that have successfully completed a start-up phase and are “well positioned to have a major impact.” The AAI recently completed research, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, to develop Data Refine, a system for evaluating, annotating, and linking online datasets. Previously, the AAI received funding from the NEH to explore researcher needs around data sharing, a major outcome of which was the “data sharing as publication” model advanced by the current project.
Current funding will demonstrate how publication processes can help improve the discoverability, reuse, and longevity of primary scholarly materials. The AAI team will collaborate with archaeologists working in the Mediterranean region to further develop workflows to publish archaeological datasets as Linked Open Data. Though demonstrated with a theme of ancient trade and exchange, the project’s tools and workflows are applicable in any field needing better data dissemination. A major project outcome is a generalized model for publishing well-documented and reusable scholarly data. The success of this model lies in its outward orientation. Rather than working toward monolithic centralization, this approach enables researchers to participate in a growing and widely distributed humanities information ecosystem.