When I started at Digital Antiquity (way back in late 2019), I was delighted to learn that the office had established a “shared” drive (our own mini-cloud) which we could access via VPN from just about anywhere we had decent internet access. Since I frequently get “epiphanies” on the weekend, I really like being able to access my office documents remotely from home; I often tinker and re-tinker with documents or save work that pertains to a project I’m currently focused on.  When the Covid-19 virus event initially cropped up, our office staff discussed what it might look like if we had to work from home.  We are physically housed in newly remodeled Hayden Library at Arizona State University, and at first that there was no real indication that we would need to work from home. What began more as a thought exercise turned out to be good planning on our part.  Though we weren’t thinking that we would really need to work remotely for an extended period of time, this turns out to be our “new normal” (though I’m not a fan of that phrase).

It turns out that all the work that Digital Antiquity staff had undertaken over the past several years to 1) create a shared drive on our university server, 2) establish a Slack Channel™ and Zoom™ meetings for communication, 3) facilitate Remote Desktop access, and 4) create administrative log-in protocols on tDAR has paid off 100-fold.  Though these platforms have been in use for years, the manner in which they’ve become intertwined into our daily workflows as a result of our enforced social-isolation is pretty new to most of us who were working in an office setting.  In thinking about how our digital world is constantly changing, it was wise to plan and enact procedures that gave us the flexibility to access work-related documents remotely. For now, Digital Antiquity staff is able to efficiently work from home given the absurdity of the world around us; all of which has me thinking more about the importance of planning, archiving, preservation, access, and later reuse.  Our reliance on technology is as prevalent as ever.

I’m hyper-aware of how selfish this sounds given that we are facing a global lock-down in the face of a pandemic.  But since I’m at home and able to work (and I realize that many are not as fortunate) it has given me a chance to reflect and have a new appreciation for that ability.  The technological capacity to access digital documents and data, either from home or remotely in a field setting, can truly be invaluable.  Because we have digital information stored in a service like tDAR (and there are many others), and the tools to access them, we can continue to work and provide a platform for others to do the same.  The same cannot be said for many other archaeologists/historic preservationists.

CRM work is very much a client-based professional service based on federal regulations and is steeped in technology. In the CRM world today, if a SHPO isn’t physically open for an extended period of time nor has an online presence, how do you go about conducting gray literature reviews, even if you are able to go into the field?  Having documents archived digitally and made accessible thus becomes incredibly important for compliance work to continue.  Likewise, SHPOs who may receive digital documents may not be in a position to store them in a manner that facilitates their access within the organization, limiting their ability to help companies or agencies meet their compliance requirements.

The financial impact to archaeology likely pales in comparison to the overall economic impact that the Covid-19 pandemic will ultimately have on our nation’s economy, but the impact to the field of archaeology and historic preservation will nonetheless be felt.  This period of confinement/social-distancing has given me a chance to reflect a bit on many things personally and professionally, but from a strictly professional perspective, working from home reminds me that not all organizations have the cyber-infrastructure that allows them the flexibility to work remotely with digital documents. 

Archaeologists need to continue efforts in 1) converting our physical documents (those reports sitting on shelves gathering dust) to digital formats, 2) creating online platforms to access these items, and 3) planning for future work interruptions, whether they be from pandemics or other reasons.  Making information and data accessible, either intra- or inter-office, truly is as important as ever. 

A rather dystopic article recently released from the MIT Technology Review entitled “We’re not going back to normal” (https://www.technologyreview.com/s/615370/coronavirus-pandemic-social-distancing-18-months/; accessed 4/6/2020) postulates that this pandemic (and maybe future ones) will be cyclical, necessitating multiple periods of social-distancing over extended periods of time.  If such does occur, as a discipline we need to be innovative and consider different ways of accessing and sharing information, documents, and data across groups; both within our own offices and to our customers.  Archaeology firms, SHPOs, university staff, student’s and the like will need to consider how their workflows will look different, both today and in the coming months and the importance of having access to variety of materials so that we can continue to be productive.  Not to mention we may find that the investment in getting these resources online during disruptions should pay off in “normal” times.

Our work and research are so intricately woven into cyber-infrastructure and data that we “need” the ability to access information; this period of human history, if nothing else, highlights our continued need to flex our phenotypic capacity to adapt changes in our economy.  If there is a return to normal, will we look back at the economic ramifications of working remotely and take steps to adapt by modifying our existing platforms?  Is accessing document and data remotely, despite major societal disruptions, important enough for many organizations to make significant changes to how they operate?  Only time and/or another disruption will ultimately tell.

The Center for Digital Antiquity is currently searching for a talented individual to join our team as our Assistant Director. Reporting to the Director of the Center for Digital Antiquity, the Assistant Director is responsible for assisting with strategic planning, operations management, budgeting, and marketing/sales. The Assistant Director assists with planning and implementing Digital Antiquity’s activities and operations, which includes helping to establish a long-term vision for the Center.

If this sounds like a position you might be interested in, we encourage you to visit the official job post to learn more and apply! Our candidate search ends on Monday, January 20, 2020.

Center for Digital Antiquity Director Chris Nicholson, Assistant Director Leigh Anne Ellison, and Senior Digital Curator Rachel Fernandez are looking forward to participating in a number of upcoming archaeological meetings and conferences.  Look for us in sessions, stop by our booth, or email Leigh Anne (LeighAnne.Ellison@asu.edu), Rachel (Rachel.Fernandez.1@asu.edu) or Chris (Christopher.M.Nicholson@asu.edu) to meet for coffee and chat about the top-tier digital curation, data management, and archiving services tDAR can provide you!

Be sure to visit our booth to learn more about what tDAR can do for you!

Rachel Fernandez, Senior Digital Curator
Digital Antiquity Senior Digital Curator Rachel Fernandez is responsible for identifying datasets in tDAR and uploading them to the ARIADNE Portal.
Julian Richards at AriaDNEplus
Julian Richards, ADS Director and Digital Antiquity Board Member, at AriaDNEplus meeting in February 2019

Partnering with 26 other countries, the Center for Digital Antiquity is proud to be a part of the 5-year ARIADNEplus research grant (2019-2023). ARIADNEplus is the continuation of the successful ARIADNE project: Advanced Research Infrastructure for Archaeological Data Networking in Europe, 2013-2017. The original ARIADNE work focused on integrating 36 European Union archaeological repositories, and building a platform to support searching their integrated catalog of unpublished reports, images, maps, databases and other archaeological information.

The “plus” grant expands the integrated partners list to include the U.S. (the Center for Digital Antiquity), Argentina (National Scientific and Technical Research Council), Israel (Israel Antiquities Authority), and Japan (National Research Institute for Cultural Properties). The new portal will extend geographical and temporally, while providing various services to researchers to process and re-use the data. For more information, check out their informative website available in 14 different languages

Leigh Anne Ellison, Assistant Director
Leigh Anne Ellison, Assistant Director

Congratulations to Leigh Anne Ellison on her recent promotion to Assistant Director of the Center for Digital Antiquity! Leigh Anne joined the staff in 2012 as Sales and Marketing Coordinator, and was promoted to Program Manager in 2017. She has extensive professional experience including work as a Project Director for archaeological fieldwork in Mexico and Honduras, where she studied social variability among commoners. She also has considerable field experience in the US, working as a Field Archaeologist on various projects throughout Hawaii, Arizona, and Colorado. Leigh Anne holds a Master’s degree in Anthropology from Northern Arizona University and a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Art History from Wellesley College. A frequent presenter at archaeology conferences and workshops, Leigh Anne advocates globally for Digital Antiquity and the use of tDAR for the long-term preservation of, and access to, archaeological data. She will continue to serve as the primary point-of-contact for Digital Antiquity’s clients, users, and customers.

Click the image above to learn more & apply!

The Center for Digital Antiquity is currently seeking a talented Digital Curator to join our office in beautiful Tempe, AZ! Truly the backbone of Digital Antiquity, Digital Curators work with clients and collaborate with all members of the Digital Antiquity team to continuously improve and enhance our users’ experience in The Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR), a state-of-the-art international digital repository for archaeological and cultural heritage data. This full-time position contributes to the development and expansion of tDAR by accomplishing a variety of tasks, including: digitizing paper records and/or migrating obsolete digital files to appropriate preservation-quality formats, creating descriptive metadata for these archaeological records, organizing and performing quality control checks of record uploads into tDAR, and training/supervising student workers in aspects of this work.

Our ideal candidate needs to have professional knowledge and experience in at least one of these areas: archaeology (field, lab and classes); digital preservation and digital data management; information technology, scripting, and programming.

If this sounds like you, we encourage you to apply! Please visit bit.ly/2zxAYAz or search for ASU Job # 55032BR or click the image above to learn more.

Act fast! Our candidate search for this exciting opportunity closes on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 at 3:00 PM Arizona time.  

Beginning in 2013, the Center for Digital Antiquity partnered with the Society for Historical Archaeology to preserve the SHA meeting abstracts and make the presentations and research data files available in tDAR.  As a presenter you can access your abstract’s record in tDAR, edit the metadata, and upload a PDF copy of your paper, presentation, or poster, for FREE.  Here’s how to get started:

  1. Go to https://www.tdar.org/sha/
  2. Search for your abstract by typing your name or abstract title in the box.
  3. Fill out the message box to request access to your paper’s abstract (you will need to register – but that’s free).
  4. Once completed, we will send you a message within one business day with a link to edit your abstract and upload the paper or poster.

Were you an SHA presenter in 2018 (New Orleans), 2017 (Fort Worth), 2016 (Washington DC), or 2015 (Seattle) but haven’t uploaded your presentation yet? No worries – those abstracts are also in tDAR. Help other researchers find and cite your SHA presentations by making them available today!

Digital Antiquity has partnered with the Society for American Archaeology to preserve the 2019 annual meeting abstracts and make the presentations and data used to support them available in tDAR. As a presenter you can access your record in tDAR, edit the metadata, and upload a PDF copy of your paper, presentation, poster, or other supplementary data (up to 3 files/30MB), and it’s FREE.  Here’s how to get started:

  1. Go to https://www.tdar.org/saa/
  2. Search for your abstract by typing your name or abstract title in the box.
  3. Fill out the message box to request access to your paper’s abstract (you will need to register – but that’s free).
  4. Once completed, we will send you a message within one business day with a link to edit your abstract and upload the paper or poster.

Were you an SAA presenter in 2018 (Washington D.C.), 2017 (Vancouver), 2016 (Orlando), or 2015 (San Francisco) but haven’t uploaded your presentation yet? Not to worry – those abstracts are also in tDAR. Help other researchers find and cite your SAA presentations by making them available today!

Additionally, the tDAR SAA Member Benefit allows retired members, student members, members from countries with discounted rates, and members from Tribal Historic Preservation Offices to upload ten files (up to 100MB) annually to tDAR. Contact membership@saa.org to request your voucher.

Last week, our Senior Digital Data Curator, Rachel Fernandez, was out on the road again to present at the 2019 Air Force Cultural Resource Workshop, held at the Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Sponsored by the Air Force Civil Engineer Center (AFCEC), the three-day workshop included natural and cultural resource managers from Air Force installations spread across the states to discuss issues and developments in cultural resource management within the Air Force.

One of the ongoing projects discussed at the meetings was the Center for Digital Antiquity and AFCEC’s collaboration to preserve Air Force cultural resources within tDAR. At present, there are over 500 active resources within tDAR from over 17 different installations, with another 2500 resources in different stages of completion. At this meeting, Rachel was able to provide training on the tDAR system and answer questions concerning organizing and managing digital resources.

We hope to continue being involved in these workshops and work closely with AFCEC to provide digital curation and preservation services for the US Air Force.

To learn more about the US Air Force CRM Program and the challenges of digital data curation, read our Reports in Digital Archaeology Number 4, The US Air Force CRM Program Meets the Challenges of Digital Data Curation: A Case Study Using tDAR

The ARIADNEplus project invites archaeological researchers and data managers to participate in an online survey on community needs regarding data sharing and access, new services and tools, and related training needs.

ARIADNEplus, is a project funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 Programme. It aims to integrate archaeological datasets in a digital infrastructure so that researchers can use them with services and tools which will also be provided by the project.

We kindly invite you to share your experience and your views on the survey topics. Please note that the survey includes matrix table questions, therefore using a desktop or notebook (not a tablet or mobile) is recommended.

Survey link: http://srfg.at/ariadneplus-survey

Thank you very much for your valuable contribution!