Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Archaeology and DAMS

Archaeology is a discipline that produces a wealth of content and, for historical archaeology in particular, a wide variety of material. The archaeological record will potentially include artifacts (possibly cross-mended in the lab to form “objects”), field records, site records, photographs, maps (GIS files), historical documentation and research, historical photographs, oral histories, scientific data (soil chemistry, ) and, PowerPoint’s, papers and report.  I’m interested to learn how archaeologists are conducting digital asset management, and how well are the artifact databases are integrated with other material? 

There’s been an explosion of digital asset management tools in recent years. The SPECTRUM Digital Asset Management report (Poole & Dawson 2013) provides a proposed methodology for thinking about managing digital assets for cultural institutions, with suggestions for developing an implementation strategy.  For projects unable, or unwilling, to commit to a full DAMS system there are tools that can help in managing digital assets: adding meta-data, retention, versions, access and rights. It’s worth noting that a DAMS system isn’t a digital archiving system, per se, and that issues of digital conservation will still need to be addressed.

A report by the Heather Packer of the ResearchSpace Project (Packer 2011) is a survey of available DAMS and content management systems.  The blending of this two areas has always confused me, but I can see from the report how many of the same functions can be performed by software with slightly different focuses. What I find useful in the report is their criteria for evaluation: storage, annotation and tagging, security and shared (and managed access). For archaeologists these tools give the ability to manage and connect – to contextualize – the varied datasets connected with a project or site. For archaeology, where context is primary, it seems even more important that data is always contained (and ultimately published) in a rich context. For reasons of public advocacy it is necessary to stress the inter-relationships of the archaeological process and subsequent outputs, to clearly differentiate the scientific discipline of archaeology from the cultural barbarism of activities like “American Diggers.”

One further specific measurement was the ability to associate semantic metadata. For the next blog I’ll do some more reading and exploration of semantic interoperability, particularly in reference to a current project with primary documents and artifacts.


Packer, Heather (2011) Comparison of Digital Asset Management Systems (DAMs) and Content Management Systems (CMSs) accessed at:  https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=cmVzZWFyY2hzcGFjZS5vcmd8cmVzZWFyY2hzcGFjZXxneDoyODU0OWVlZWYzOGMxMzk4
Poole, Nick and Dawson, Alex (2013)  SPECTRUM Digital Asset Management,  Collections Trust accessed at http://www.collectionslink.org.uk/spectrum-resources/1688-spectrum-digital-asset-management

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