DDIG members may be interested in learning more about Omeka, a simple and open source collections / content management application developed at George Mason University. I took part in using Omeka as the basis of the “Modern Art Iraq Archive” (MAIA). In this particular case, we used Omeka to publish a collection of modern art lost, looted, or destroyed during the US invasion. The same software can be very useful to publish small archaeological collections, particularly since Omeka has an active user and developer community that continually makes new enhancements to the application.

For a bit of background, MAIA started as the result of a long-term effort to document and preserve the modern artistic works from the Iraqi Museum of Modern Art in Baghdad, most of which were lost and damaged in the fires and looting during the aftermath of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. As the site shows, very little is known about many of the works, including their current whereabouts and their original location in the Museum. The lack of documents about modern Iraqi art prompted the growth of the project to include supporting text. The site makes the works of art available as an open access database in order to raise public awareness of the many lost works and to encourage interested individuals to participate in helping to document the museum’s original
and/or lost holdings.

The MAIA site is the culmination of seven years of work by Project Director Nada Shabout, a professor of Art History and the Director of the Contemporary Arab and Muslim Cultural Studies Institute (CAMCSI) at the University of North Texas. Since 2003, Shabout has been collecting any and all information on the lost works through intensive research, interviews with artists, museum personnel, and art gallery owners. Shabout received two fellowships from the American Academic Research Institute in Iraq (TAARII) in 2006 and 2007 to conduct the first phase of data collection. In 2009, she teamed with colleagues at the Alexandria Archive Institute, a California-based non-profit organization (and maintainer of this blog!) dedicated to opening up global cultural heritage for research, education, and creative works.

The team won a Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant from the U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities to develop MAIA.

Just a quick note at the start of this holiday week. I have been remiss about posting about the SAA Archaeological Record, an open access publication for SAA members. Over the past year, they have published a couple of papers about digital data preservation and access in archaeology. These include:

  1. McManamon, Francis P., and Keith W. Kintigh (2010) Digital Antiquity: Transforming Archaeological Data into Knowledge. The SAA Archaeological Record 10(2):37–40.
  2. Meyers, Adrian. (2010) Fieldwork in the Age of Digital Reproduction: A Review of the Potentials and Limitations of Google Earth for Archaeologists.  The SAA Archaeological Record 10(4):7–11.
  3. Kansa, Eric C. (2010) Open Context in Context: Cyberinfrastructure and Distributed Approaches to Publish and Preserve Archaeological Data. The SAA Archaeological Record 10(5):12–16.

If I missed any, please let me know and I will update this post! Thanks!


Request for Comment: Rome Wasn’t Digitized in a Day: Building a Cyberinfrastructure for Digital Classicists

Infrastructure for Humanities Scholarship

CLIR and Tufts University are engaging scholars and academic librarians in examining the services and digital objects classicists have developed, the future needs of the discipline, and the roles of libraries and other curatorial institutions in fostering the infrastructure on which the core intellectual activities of classics and many other disciplines depend. We envision a set of shared services layered over a distributed storage architecture that is seamless to end users, allows multiple contributors, and leverages institutional resources and facilities. Much of this architecture exists at individual projects and institutions; the challenge is to identify the suite of shared services to be developed.

Prior research supported by public and private agencies has created digital resources in classics, which are arguably the most developed and interconnected set of collections and associated services in any discipline outside of the sciences. Questions now posed test the limits of project-based services. The findings of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Sustainable Digital Preservation and Access, the Library of Congress National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP), and two symposia hosted by CLIR (the second with co-sponsorship by NEH) demonstrate that managing digital information requires libraries to play an active role in the research process to ensure appropriate curation and preservation of digital resources. This project will help library professionals understand the challenges of supporting new kinds of publications (e.g., treebanks, or syntactic databases for texts) and services (e.g., named entity identification services optimized for domains such as classical studies) and engage them in designing solutions. The project will also be relevant to areas such as medieval studies, archaeology, and ancient and near eastern languages.

CLIR is seeking public comment on a literature review that identifies existing services, resources, and needs in the field of classics. The report, Rome Wasn’t Digitized in a Day: Building a Cyberinfrastructure for Digital Classicists, was produced by Alison Babeu of the Perseus Project at Tufts University. It is intended to inform planning for the next phase of work: description of an infrastructure to support digital classics and related fields of research. (The report is a 1.8 MB .pdf file, please allow time for it to download).

Comments on the draft report should be submitted to Kathlin Smith (ksmithatclirdotorg) by December 1, 2010. We especially encourage the identification of topics or projects that are missing in the report, or that might be represented more fully.

One of many other online projects by the inimitable Chuck Jones, Ancient World Open Bibliographies, draws attention to this:

That report (on p. 11 ff.) cites the following open access bibliographies and bibliographical projects:

Are there others you would have chosen to include?

Archaeology requires archaeologists, right? Well, the current or ending recession or economic crisis—depending on which economist or politician you talk to—is felt by archaeological excavators, researchers and teachers alike. Is the workforce shrinking or just becoming more efficient? Are there fewer students enrolling? The Archaeometry SAS blog alerted me to the publication of a new report: Nathan Schlanger and Kenneth Aitchison (eds.), Archaeology and the Global Economic Crisis. Multiple Impacts, Possible Solutions, Tervuren (Belgium), 2010 (available as pdf). This is the table of contents:

1. introduction. Archaeology and the global economic crisis   9
Nathan Schlanger & Kenneth Aitchison
2. the crisis – economic, ideological, and archaeological   13
Jean-Paul Demoule
3. the impact of the recession on archaeology in the republic of ireland   19
James Eogan
4. United Kingdom archaeology in economic crisis   2
Kenneth Aitchison
5. the end of a golden age? the impending effects of the economic collapse on archaeology in higher education in the United Kingdom   31
Anthony Sinclair
6. commercial archaeology in spain: its growth, development, and the impact of the global economic crisis   4
Eva Parga-Dans
7. A crisis with many faces. the impact of the economic recession on dutch archaeology   
Monique H. van den Dries, Karen E. Waugh & Corien Bakker
8. one crisis too many? French archaeology between reform and relaunch   69
Nathan Schlanger & Kai Salas Rossenbach
9. the crisis and changes in cultural heritage legislation in hungary: cul-de-sac or solution?   81
Eszter Bánffy & Pál Raczky
10. Archaeology in crisis: the case of Poland   87
Arkadiusz Marciniak & Micha? Pawleta
11. the impact of the economic crisis on rescue archaeology in russia   97
Asya Engovatova
12. the effect of the global recession on cultural resources management in the United states   103
Jeffry H. Altschul
13. Postscript: on dead canaries, guinea-pigs and other trojan horses   107
Nathan Schlanger
14. Annex i: Job losses in UK archaeology – April 2010   117
Kenneth Aitchison
15. Annex ii: note for administrators and liquidators of archaeological organisations   127
Roger M. Thomas

I also came across a European-Union-funded study on the state of the profession in Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Slovenia and the UK. Written by the same Kenneth Aitchison, its title is Discovering the Archaeologists of Europe: Transnational Report, Reading (UK), 2009. It too is freely available on the web. The contents are:

1.0 Executive Summary  5
2.0 Aim and Objectives  7
3.0 Partnership  8
4.0 Methodology  9
4.1 Data Collection  9
4.2 Data Analysis  9
5.0 Definitions of Archaeologists  10
6.0 Numbers Working in Archaeology  11
7.0 Past Growth of the Sector  13
8.0 Future Growth of the Sector  14
9.0 Age and Gender of Archaeologists  15
10.0 Disability Status of Archaeologists  17
11.0 Country of Origin  18
12.0 Highest Qualifications Gained by Archaeologists  20
13.0 Full-time and Part-time Work in Archaeology  22
14.0 Salaries in Archaeology  23
15.0 Training Needs and Skills Shortages  24
16.0 Transnational Mobility  25
16.1 Barriers to Transnational Mobility – Licensing  26
16.2 Barriers to Transnational Mobility – Qualifications  27
16.3 Barriers to Transnational Mobility – Language  28
17.0 Recommendations  29
18.0 Bibliography  30
Appendix 1: Private Sector and State Funding  31

In light of the recent triennial review of copyright practice in the US by the  US Copyright Office (a division of the Library of Congress) that legalized “jail-breaking” iPhones, I thought it would be a good idea to point out some good, freely-available materials on copyright relevant to archaeology and the humanities in general:

  • article about “Copyright Urban Legends” from the June 2010 issue of Research Library Issues;
  • implications of the US Copyright Office exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act for educators from Planned Obsolescence;
  • the Privilege and Property. Essays on the History of Copyright edited book;
  • The Economics of Copyright report, a last hurrah of a now-suddenly-disbanded Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property Policy (“Providing [UK] government with independent, strategic, evidence-based advice on intellectual property policy”… no longer needed by the new Tory-Lib government perhaps?)

Ithaka has published a new report: Faculty Survey 2009: Key Strategic Insights for Libraries, Publishers, and Societies. I quote:

“This fourth in a series of surveys conducted over the past decade examined faculty attitudes and behaviors on key issues ranging from the library as information gateway and the need for preservation of scholarly material, to faculty engagement with institutional and disciplinary repositories and thoughts about open access.  For the first time, we also looked at the role that scholarly societies play and their value to faculty.


Following an initial introductory letter, survey questionnaire booklets were physically mailed to 35,000 faculty members in September 2009. A total of 3,025 complete responses were received and tabulated, for a response rate of approximately 8.6%. Demographic characteristics, including discipline, are self-reported. In 2006, we deposited the dataset with ICPSR for long-term digital preservation and access, and we intend to do so again with the 2009 dataset.


Full Report (PDF)

Key findings of the Faculty Survey 2009 include:

Basic scholarly information use practices have shifted rapidly in recent years and, as a result, the academic library is increasingly being disintermediated from the discovery process, risking irrelevance in one of its core areas.

Faculty members’ growing comfort in relying exclusively on digital versions of scholarly materials opens new opportunities for libraries, new business models for publishers, and new challenges for preservation.

Despite several years of sustained efforts by publishers, scholarly societies, libraries, faculty members, and others to reform various aspects of the scholarly communications system, a fundamentally conservative set of faculty attitudes continues to impede systematic change.”

There are two webinars left that you can sign up for:

“Chapter 2: The Format Transition for Scholarly Works - April 29

Chapter 3: Scholarly Communications - May 5

An interesting white paper appeared late last year that investigates “The Value of New Scientific Communication Models for Chemistry.” It is available for free download; an overview article can also be found in the journal Nature Chemistry. Here’s the executive summary:

This paper is intended as a starting point for discussion on the possible future of scientific communication in chemistry, the value of new models of scientific communication enabled by web based technologies, and the necessary future steps to achieve the benefits of those new models. It is informed by a NSF sponsored workshop that was held on October 23-24, 2008 in Washington D.C. It provides an overview on the scientific communication system in chemistry and describes efforts to enhance scientific communication by introducing new web- based models of scientific communication. It observes that such innovations are still embryonic and have not yet found broad adoption and acceptance by the chemical community. The paper proceeds to analyze the reasons for this by identifying specific characteristics of the chemistry domain that relate to its research practices and socio-economic organization. It hypothesizes how these may influence communication practices, and produce resistance to changes of the current system similar to those that have been successfully deployed in other sciences and which have been proposed by pioneers within chemistry.

The fact that the perspective presented in this paper is not unanimously shared across the board of stakeholders within chemistry was evident from the comments of some participants of the October 2008 workshop to the draft of this paper. Change in established systems is difficult and inevitably disrupts practices that are considered essential by established stakeholders. The revised version of the paper that you are now reading acknowledges this and highlights issues of disagreement among the stakeholders represented at the workshop. Further, the analysis in this paper is incomplete with regard to the many different research fields within chemistry. Additional work, deepening, and validating the analysis presented in this paper is needed. Hence, we see this document as only a first step and propose it as the basis of a second, broader workshop.  This workshop would include a broad range of chemists, both from academia and industry, and other stakeholders in the scientific communication system in chemistry, as well as researchers who study transformation processes in the sciences. The aim of such a workshop would be to critically discuss and further develop the analysis presented here, and to design concrete recommendations on

• How to assess the value of new scientific communication models in chemistry?

• How to catalyze desirable changes?

• What aspects require further exploration and research?

We suggest this document and the proposed second workshop have broader value.  We believe that the domain of chemistry with its cautious approach to new communication models constitutes a valuable case study for transformation processes in scientific communication in the Digital Age. Efforts to innovate scientific communication will benefit from an increased understanding of discipline and research field specific factors, which can be acquired through the discussions and analyses that this paper aims to initiate.

A new report came out: The Future of the Internet IV, by J. Anderson and L. Rainie. It’s the 4th volume in this quasi-annual series (previous volumes also available online). This is an important study.

A survey of nearly 900 Internet stakeholders reveals fascinating new perspectives on the way the Internet is affecting human intelligence and the ways that information is being shared and rendered.

The web-based survey gathered opinions from prominent scientists, business leaders, consultants, writers and technology developers. It is the fourth in a series of Internet expert studies conducted by the Imagining the Internet Center at Elon University and the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. In this report, we cover experts’ thoughts on the following issues:

“Three out of four experts said our use of the Internet enhances and augments human intelligence, and two-thirds said use of the Internet has improved reading, writing and rendering of knowledge,” said Janna Anderson, study co-author and director of the Imagining the Internet Center. “There are still many people, however, who are critics of the impact of Google, Wikipedia and other online tools.” Read more

Earlier this year, “Sustaining Digital Resources: An On-the-Ground View of Projects Today,” a study by Ithaka was published. They analyzed “the strategies being used to support digital initiatives over the long term. Twelve detailed case studies present the steps project leaders have taken to achieve this, with special attention paid to their strategies for cost management and revenue generation. These studies include financial data, and explore the decision-making process that project leaders undertake when experimenting with different strategies to find the best fit for their organization.” You can find a review in the Inside Higher Ed blog. The study is available online:

Full Document

Download full document, including the Final Report and all 12 case studies, 135 pages (high resolution, 4.5MB)
Download full document, including the Final Report and all 12 case studies, 135 pages (low resolution, 2.8MB)

Final Report

Sustaining Digital Resources: An On-the-Ground View of Projects Today
Nancy L. Maron, K. Kirby Smith, Matthew Loy
Foreword by Kevin Guthrie and Laura Brown

Case Studies

BOPCRIS Digitisation Centre: Experimentation with Sustainability and Partnerships for Library Digitisation Projects
Hartley Library, University of Southampton
Southampton, United Kingdom

Centre for Computing in the Humanities: Leveraging Shared Infrastructure and Expertise to Develop Digital Projects in an Academic Department
King’s College London
London, United Kingdom

DigiZeitschriften: Library Partnership and a Subscription Model for a Journal Database
Göttingen State and University Library, University of Göttingen
Göttingen, Germany

eBird: A Two-sided Market for Academic Researchers and Enthusiasts
Cornell University Lab of Ornithology (Information Science Department)
New York, United States

Electronic Enlightenment: Subscription-based Resource Sold Through a University Press
Bodleian Library, University of Oxford
Oxford, United Kingdom

Hindawi Publishing Corporation: The Open-Access Contributor-Pays Model
Cairo, Egypt

L’Institut national de l’audiovisuel: Free Content and Rights Licensing as Complementary Strategies
Bry-sur-Marne and Paris, France

The Middle School Portal 2: Math and Science Pathways, National Science Digital Library: Early Sustainability Planning for a Grant-Funded Digital Library
The Ohio State University
Ohio, United States

The National Archives: Digitisation with Commercial Partnerships via the Licensed Internet Associates Program
London, United Kingdom

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Building an Endowment with Community Support
Stanford University
California, United States

The Thesaurus Linguae Graecae®: Specialised Historical Content for a Niche Audience
University of California, Irvine
California, United States

V&A Images: Image Licensing at a Cultural Heritage Institution
Victoria and Albert Museum
London, United Kingdom

A new publication from Microsoft Research is now available (open access) online: The Fourth Paradigm: Data-Intensive Scientific Discovery, Edited by Tony Hey, Stewart Tansley, and Kristin Tolle. Although as usual not specifically aimed at archaeology, there’s some interesting stuff. You can download it whole or by paper:


Part 1: Earth and Environment

Part 2: Health and Wellbeing

Part 3: Scientific Infrastructure

Part 4: Scholarly Communication

Final Thoughts

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