Information Access Seminar

An Open Context for Archaeology

Friday, February 8, 2008
3:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Eric Kansa
The common use by archaeologists of ubiquitous technologies such as computers and digital cameras means that archaeological research projects now produce huge amounts of diverse, digital documentation. However, while the technology is available to collect this documentation, we still largely lack community accepted dissemination channels appropriate for such torrents of data.

Open Context aims to help fill this gap by providing open access data publication services for archeology. Open Context has a flexible and generalized technical architecture that can accommodate most archaeological datasets, despite the lack of common recording systems or other documentation standards. Open Context includes a variety of tools to make data dissemination easier and more worthwhile. Authorship is clearly identified through citation tools, a web-based publication systems enables individuals upload their own data for review, and collaboration is facilitated through easy download and other features.

While we have demonstrated a potentially valuable approach for data sharing, we face significant challenges in scaling Open Context up for serving large quantities of data from multiple projects. This talk will explore future work with commercial service providers, including Metaweb to expand these efforts with a much more robust data sharing infrastructure.
Dr. Eric Kansa is the Executive Director of the Information and Service Design Program at the I School. He has a background in anthropology, archaeology, and in open access data sharing for the field sciences. He is co-founder and former executive director of the Alexandria Archive Institute, and led development of Open Context, an online system for sharing collections and field research in archaeology and natural history. This follows a position on the faculty of Harvard University, where he served as lecturer and undergraduate tutor for the Department of Anthropology. He graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a BA in cultural anthropology and continued his education at Harvard University beginning in 1995. There, he earned his doctorate in 2001 and has focused research efforts on open dissemination strategies, information architectures for the social sciences, and intellectual property frameworks for online scholarship. Eric is currently the convener of the Society for American Archaeology's Digital Data Interest Group.

Last updated:

March 26, 2015