I’m nearly recovered from a fantastic Society for American Archaeology conference, where I presented a three minute lightning talk on my repository project at the Digital Data Interest Group meeting. This is the typed version of my talk. In person, it was a little more off-the-cuff with much animated gesticulation. Here’s what I said:

I manage archaeological data for the Commonwealth of Virginia State Historic Preservation Office. I’m working on a proof of concept digital repository to contain CRM archaeology reports, photos, field notes, datasets, and other media surrounding cool projects that aren’t sensitive in terms of location or content. Why high interest and low risk? Because it will all be completely open and accessible to the general public (and this is a pretty big paradigm shift in Virginia archaeology).

Jolene Smith presenting in front of a screen showing the KORA and MSUDAI logos

Photo by Kate Ellenberger

The system is built with KORA, a free and open digital repository platform developed by the lovely people at Michigan State University’s Matrix Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences. In addition to managing digital objects for this project, it gives my tiny agency a place to start as we move toward sound digital archives practices.

There will be two front end web pages: a public portal featuring an interactive web map, a slideshow of interesting artifacts and illustrations, and content about Virginia archaeology geared toward the general public. There will also be a full query interface for researchers.

This is  a proof of concept project. Hopefully we will be able to leverage the work done here to a more broad, integrated digital repository. I want to show what is possible when we open up and connect our data, ideally moving toward a culture where anything that can be openly accessible is openly accessible.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes site information sensitive, what we choose to restrict, and why. I’m putting a lot of thought lately into a workflow that would allow Virginia Indian groups and others to review and flag materials as sensitive, as well as to provide additional information on traditional knowledge and other types of cultural significance. More on that later. Gears are turning.