[open-archaeology] [Antiquist] Re: Heritage Method Store Proposal

Federico Morando federico.morando at gmail.com
Wed Sep 22 14:50:44 UTC 2010

Dear All,

I would like to add a perspective about this interesting topic: as a 
by-product of this (admittedly quite ambitious) project, some simple 
methodologies (and possibly some related how-to) could be recommended to 
various hobbyist and amateurs (e.g. coin collectors) wanting to share 
information online.

In fact, this suggestion comes from the fact that I'm interested in 
these topics from two points of view: as a researcher working on public 
sector information (and content) related issues from a multidisciplinary 
point of view (law, technology & economics), taking into account the 
possibilities of interactions between information held by - say - public 
universities and user generated content; as a ancient coin collector 
(with a specific interest in relationships between amateurs and 
professionals and in legal schemes trying to minimize abuses and 
looting, maximizing the circulation of information: e.g. the portable 
antiquities scheme in UK and relates norms).

For instance, coin collectors frequently share online pictures and other 
infos about their collections, but they tend to do so ignoring (at least 
in part) best practices and/or standards which could help in making a 
scientific use of these pieces of information (nonetheless, I think that 
today websites such as http://wildwinds.com/ may help archaeologists 
without a strong numismatic background in identifying ancient coins). 
The kind of how-to which could help coin collectors making their 
information more usable for researchers includes, for instance, best 
practices to add semantic information to online collections of pictures 
of ancient coins (RDF related technologies, such as RDFa, ontologies and 
dictionaries, etc.).

Similarly, exposing some information about their findings, also 
archaeologist could sometimes benefit from interactions with amateurs: 
for instance, I have some friends working as archaeologist and they had 
to admit more than once that I know more than them (or their colleagues 
on a given excavation) about certain kinds of coins (e.g. late Roman 
bronzes or Celtic coins of northern Italy). That happens simply because 
I'm specialized on a very narrow subset of potentially archaeologically 
relevant knowledge, but this already allowed me to casually help one of 
them in identifying a worn coin simply looking at a picture, while my 
friend did not have many clues to start its identification (in fact, to 
me that flat bronze disk was clearly a Republican Roman as, but from the 
stratigraphic information one would have been pushed to think about 
medieval coins...).
[There is interesting research going on in various fields about 
crowd-sourcing and I think that - up to a certain points - something 
could be done also in archaeology... it has been done for complex 
mathematical problems, but NASA also did that with a certain success for 
identifying craters on Mars, for instance...]

So, to make a long story short, I think it could be nice to think about 
methodologies (and software tools) creating a bridge between 
professional archaeologist and various kind of amateurs. More 
specifically, I would suggest to do some pilot work on ancient coins, 
simply because there are big communities of coin collectors online, 
because researchers in this field always used the work of collectors 
quite intensively (many well known ancient coins catalogues have been 
written by collectors in the past), but also because I would happily 
volunteer as collector participating in such a pilot and/or proposing 
this idea to other collectors.



On 09/21/2010 06:57 PM, Stefano Costa wrote:
> Il giorno mar, 21/09/2010 alle 10.09 +0100, Leif Isaksen ha scritto:
>> - As a separate issue, a few of us have been toying with the idea of
>> setting up a Stack Exchange site for Technology in the Humanities
>> (http://area51.stackexchange.com/). This would have to be quite a
>> large affair in order to work (i.e. we'd need to rope in antiquisters,
>> digital classicists, HASTACers, and so on in order to reach a
>> functioning scale) but it's Q&A format would nicely complement both
>> the mailing lists (which are good for announcements and making
>> personal contacts) on the one hand and more substantial knowledge
>> articles such as the proposed methods wiki on the other. In any case,
>> if anyone is interested in the initial phase of getting it off the
>> ground please get in touch offlist.
> I will reply in more detail later, but for the moment being I'd like to
> point out that a very similar web platform is already available on OKFN
> infrastructure, e.g. see http://ask.okfn.org/en/
> The major difference (and advantage, IMHO) would be in self-hosting and
> capability to license everything under CC-BY.
> I've started drafting the current proposal at
> http://archeo.okfnpad.org/methodology-store - please feel free to
> contribute.
> Ciao,
> steko

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