AAI News

Fall 2014 News and Events

September 2, 2014

The AAI is pleased to announce two new grant-funded projects. With support from Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies and the German Archaeological Institute (DAI), Open Context’s program director Eric Kansa will collaborate with DAI colleagues to develop and promote specific data sharing standards that will facilitate data interoperability in Classical archaeology. The standards will be promoted through their application to several datasets, which will be published by Open Context and the DAI. The DAI has an unrivaled corpus of excavation and survey documentation for Classical archaeology collected over many decades at several sites across the Mediterranean. Related to this work and with a grant from the J.M. Kaplan Fund, the AAI will research the interface of archaeological data and conservation data in the project Conservation Data Management to Promote Good Practice. Both projects will benefit from a significant updates to Open Context, taking place in the summer and fall of this year, including interface changes and major “under the hood” work (see a recent blog post by Eric describing the changes).

In September, Sarah Whitcher Kansa will travel to Argentina to participate in the 2014 ICAZ International Conference in San Rafael. Sarah, who was recently elected Vice President of ICAZ, will lead a roundtable discussion on the collection, organization, and dissemination of zooarchaeology data. She will also contribute a paper to the session Meta-analyses in zooarchaeology: large-scale syntheses in the era of “big data”, organized by David C. Orton and James Morris. Sarah and colleague Iain McKechnie (Univ. of Oregon), are collaborating once again on a poster session Recent applications of digital technology in archaeozoology (their co-organized session at the last ICAZ conference in Paris resulted in a special issue of The SAA Archaeological Record.) Sarah will also take part in the workshop on South American camelid osteology and osteometry (organized by Mariana Mondini and Katherine Moore). An aspect of this workshop will be discussion of the Osteometric Database of South American Camelids, a major effort to make osteometric data openly available on the web for research. This is a collaborative undertaking involving a team of Argentine colleagues, Open Context, and camelid scholars worldwide.

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“Best Paper” Prize at 2014 International Digital Curation Conference

March 5, 2014

A collaborative research paper on data publishing won the “Best Paper” prize at the 2014 International Digital Curation Conference in San Francisco last week. Eric Kansa presented the paper Publishing and Pushing: Mixing Models for Communicating Research Data in Archaeology, which he co-authored with colleagues Benjamin Arbuckle and Sarah Whitcher Kansa. The three collaborated with a dozen colleagues on a large-scale project of publication, integration, and analysis of datasets from Anatolia. The IDCC paper presented lessons about data documentation and reuse that emerged from the project. Specifically, the study revealed that recording methods researchers assumed were commonplace actually varied widely from researcher to researcher. This kind of “under the hood” access to datasets that helps highlight inconsistencies in recording practices, will help drive improvements in data documentation. The paper argued for the implementation of a combined model of data publishing and version tracking. Data publishing ensures that datasets are seen as professional research outputs (like peer-reviewed publications). Version control, recognizing that datasets are dynamic and can be updated and built upon, ensures that any updates to a published dataset are clearly indicated and justified. Both publishing and versioning of datasets maximizes their potential for reuse. The research paper will be published in the spring 2014 issue of the International Journal of Digital Curation. The study was funded by the Encyclopedia of Life and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit the project page to learn more.

Eric Kansa accepts award for "best paper" at IDCC 2104. Image credit: Ashley Sands

Eric Kansa accepts award for “best paper” at IDCC 2104. Image credit: Ashley Sands

Posted in: Awards, News, Publications

Eric Kansa Delivers Inaugural Lecture for Harvard’s Digital Futures Consortium

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.

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White House Recognizes Open Context’s Role in Open Science

June 30, 2013

Image credit: Anjelika Deogirikar

Image credit: Anjelika Deogirikar

Last 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:

Posted in: Awards, Events, News

Spring 2013 Happenings

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.

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