In the latest episode of the ArchaeoTech Podcast, I talk with Brian Ballsun-Stanton, the technical manager and data architect for the Federated Archaeology Information Management System (FAIMS), an integrated digital archaeology capture, management, analysis, archival, and publishing initiative in Australia. We discuss relational (and non-relational databases), the culture of archaeologists, mobile development, philosophy, and why archaeologists often choose to play Rogues in role playing games…
I am pleased to announce not just one, but two new additions to the Diachronic Design website! In addition to my software tutorials, I am now offering live consulting help through Google Helpouts and will also provide archaeological software and educational games.
First, as part of the Google Helpouts program, I am now able to provide one-on-one help on digital archaeology to anyone in the world. Contact me to request assistance with projects like building a lithics database, creating GIS maps, customizing data collection apps, creating websites, preparing images and reports, or to ask questions about best practices and options for how digital tools can enhance almost any kind of archaeological work. Continue reading #12 Announcing Live Digital Archaeology Help and the Diachronic Design Labs!
I was recently talking with a university librarian about ways that he could digitize some of his collections. In our conversation, I brought up two “crowdsourcing” projects I knew of where librarians and archaeologists were soliciting help from the public in order to digitize large bodies of text documents from both a library collection and large archaeological projects.
The output of digitization projects, machine-readable documents, make fast searching and indexing of archaeological information possible, as well as allow researchers to conduct text-mining analyses that extract patterns from the digitized information. Actually digitizing past documents, especially handwritten documents, is tedious work however, and many organizations do not have the resources to complete this work. While archaeologists are collecting more and more data digitally, a vast body of archaeological information exists only in paper: books, reports, articles, forms, and field notebooks. Even if we assume that anything published may have been digitized by the publisher (if they still exist), that still leaves a large body of archaeological data and analyses trapped in paper. One way archaeologists and others can digitize paper documents is to use optical character recognition (OCR) software to analyze scanned pages and match image shapes to text characters and words. While OCR programs have improved a lot over the years, the programs still make errors, especially when converting text that uses specialized language and OCR programs are generally pretty bad at recognizing handwritten characters. Often, humans need to carefully proofread and double check OCR transcriptions to ensure the text matches the original documents. Several organizations are pursuing crowdsourcing projects to invite volunteers to help verify digitized documents or even transcribe documents too complex for OCR software to digitize.