March 2009


I’ve been distracted by the Recovery.gov work lately, and I almost missed a very interesting read that comes from Nisha Doshi, Publications Assistant for the Public Library of Science.

In her March 17 post to the PLoS blog, Doshi provides an informative summary of the archaeology-related publications that have come out recently in PLoS ONE, a peer-reviewed scientific journal for the speedy publication of research in science and medicine. The nine publications and one interview she highlights in her post are primarily in the field of archaeogenetics and will be of interest to many DDIG members. Peter Suber, over at Open Access News picked up the story here (and scooped me :) BTW).

Doshi sees these recent publications as indicating that “the open-access model has an important role to play in archaeology.” While this suite of high-caliber publications is encouraging, we still have a long way to go in promoting open access. PLoS ONE is not necessarily a suitable publication venue for many of the less science-heavy archaeological and anthropological studies. Access to archaeological research would be greatly improved with more open access venues dedicated to the field (such as Fornvännen <http://fornvannen.se>, the Swedish journal of archaeology and the Journal of Intercultural and Interdisciplinary Archaeology<http://www.jiia.it/>), as well as a dedicated repository for self-archived copies of non-open-access publications in archaeology.

A subject repository would be wonderful. Does anyone know of ongoing efforts for this in archaeology?

One of my favorite topics for discussion on this blog is the subject of Open Data. In following this interest, I worked with Erik Wilde and Raymond Yee in developing a site to help guide implementation of Recovery.gov transparency measures. The site is located at:

http://isd.ischool.berkeley.edu/stimulus/2009-029/

The site has demonstrations and an accompanying report (all under a Creative Commons attribution license). We’ve developed a set of simulated data that conforms to the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) February 18th specifications for disclosure. These data are offered in a variety of human and machine-readable RESTful web services. We hope that this simulated data will help act as a guide for implementation federal agencies.

We machine-readable XML data, it was pretty simple to do a variety of “mashup”-things:

However, one topic that needs more attention is the issue about what kind of information is required for “transparency”. To help answer this question, we’re seeking feedback from the wider community. Do these data really help in offering a more meaningful level of transparency? What additional information would be required to make this even more useful for community oversight?

Information architectures, services, and machine-readable data are all essential requirements for making data open and encouraging transparency in both research and policy. However, in some ways, these are the easy questions. What’s harder is knowing the specifics about what information is required to make open data actually meaningful for wider communities, whether its for research, instruction, or public oversight of government.

Any feed back and help on these questions would be most welcome!

PS. See Erik Wilde’s blog post for more.

February 11-13, 2009, Annenberg Presidential Conference Center, Texas A&M University, College Station

The papers presented at this conference are now available online: text and even some video. Worth a look! A few titles of papers: “Archives, Online Edition-Making, and the Future of Scholarly Communication in the Humanities”; “The Harvard Open Access Policy”; “The Future of University Presses and Other Institutional Publishers.”