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Our own personal archaeological archives.....Any ideas?
#1
I remember hearing a story from an archaeological friend who visited an ageing archaeologists he had met in his youth. By this time the elderly archaeologist was very feeble and bed ridden and as my friend sat next to his bed passing the time of day he happened to glance down and see under the old boy's bed. Literally under the bed, were cardboard boxes marked with the names of sites he had worked on in his own youth. Data that would presumably pass into dust with the passing of the occupant of the bed.

I was reminded of this story today when I had to rescue some old data files from a long ago abandoned portable disk drive. I am sitting here right now with 3 of these things plugged into my laptop, I guess in total something approaching a couple of terabytes of data. I'd like to think there is nothing there of primary importance (i.e all of the raw data is deposited in some other more appropriate place), but there are photos, drafts of reports that never saw the light of day, alternative versions of reports that DID see the light of day, drawings maps, plans, my theories as to the identity of Jack the Ripper etc etc. I don't want to worry anyone, but I do know where the bodies are buried!! Figuratively and literally!!

With a little bit of thought and a small amount of time and armed with a copy of my CV I could probably attach a narrative to this data that might in some future time prove of interest to some passing Martian.....but where would I deposit such an archive? Isn't it about time that we had some kind of depository for such material, a DropBox of archaeological lives that includes our own personal narrative? (plus of course my long held belief that BAJR should host an obituary site for past colleagues and friends). Anyone have any thoughts on this?
With peace and consolation hath dismist, And calm of mind all passion spent...
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#2
That is indeed an interesting concept. and one that I would be keen to explore...
Often we tread so softly in the landscape that our presence is like the brush of a feather on glass.

An archive of us? a short bio of our lives and times ... hmmm interested. and more about what form it would take? I have been looking at simple google map Temporal data. would that be a way to follow you around through time and space?

http://timemap.googlecode.com/svn/tags/2...glev3.html
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#3
Pity my local authority frowns on bonfires... :o)


Now that we're in the digital age, the volume of data we create is increasing exponentially - I shudder to think how we'll ever be able to store the stuff, let alone quarry it for useful nuggets! And of course there's all that misleading stuff that's been superceded by better knowledge, but hasn't been discarded because it's so easy to just get bigger storage devices. Then there's the problem of old file formats and media that go out of date. Not to mention the cost of maintaining it all on some distant server.

Perhaps the real moral of the story is that ALL excavation should be State-controlled, with ALL archives from it going to a reputable archiving facility as soon as it is created? While I applaud the pluck of the pioneers who ran one-man digs as a hobby/obsession/labour of love, it certainly did lead to lots of orphaned material in later years. We would then be forced to make a distinction between "archive" that has to be treated as State property from the get-go (and will be maintained accordingly), and "personal junk" that we can use for chip-wrappers if we so choose.

Anyway, stepping off the soap-box now...
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#4
I'd imagine there are plenty of perfectly valid but unfinished research projects/bright ideas that'll disappear with their originators - I know I've got a few part-done projects that might (hopefully?) be of interest to someone in the future - I can never get illustrations done for free so none of it's ever going to get published in any 'conventional' way Sad
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#5
kevin wooldridge Wrote:....but where would I deposit such an archive?


I take it you have heard of one of the following: HER (or SMR if you like), museum, library, archive? Perhaps give them a try.
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#6
RedEarth Wrote:I take it you have heard of one of the following: HER (or SMR if you like), museum, library, archive? Perhaps give them a try.

I think one of the aspects is that it has to be an online depository AND it has to make it freely accessible. I am not handing over papers just data and I am not asking for any curation, merely that it is hosted by someone. Its justifiation being that it is the personal archive of a field archaeologist 1980-2050 or whatever. I am pretty certain that HERs are not interested in taking on data under such conditions (and why would they), museums (maybe but only if they can host the web-site), likewise libraries and archives....
With peace and consolation hath dismist, And calm of mind all passion spent...
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#7
kevin wooldridge Wrote:I think one of the aspects is that it has to be an online depository AND it has to make it freely accessible. I am not handing over papers just data and I am not asking for any curation, merely that it is hosted by someone. Its justifiation being that it is the personal archive of a field archaeologist 1980-2050 or whatever. I am pretty certain that HERs are not interested in taking on data under such conditions (and why would they), museums (maybe but only if they can host the web-site), likewise libraries and archives....


All of these places hold material free of charge (at least they do where I am), they probably all even curate it for free. Why should anyone do anything with someone's 'personal' archive, why do you even have such an archive? Why is not already in some suitable place? Why should some organisation stump up the cash to create an online repository for 'your' archive? Why don't you pay for this to happen if it is 'your' material?

There's always ADS - it is one of the problems with purely digital data, it becomes outdated. Can it be printed out and stored on paper? Presumably not.
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#8
What about ideas? Those moments of inspiration? They're all in danger of getting lost. I've managed to 'gift' a few that I'll never get around to publishing to other people (one just got incorporated into someone's PhD, for instance), but I've still got plenty in my head/notes on a laptop/scribbled in notebooks, mostly based on my own experience so unlikely to be replicated in the same form by anyone else. Some may be insane, some may not, time will tell, but only if the ideas are preserved in some way. HER's really aren't geared up for that kind of stuff, they wouldn't know how to file it!
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#9
Dinosaur Wrote:What about ideas? Those moments of inspiration? They're all in danger of getting lost. I've managed to 'gift' a few that I'll never get around to publishing ............

thank god for memoirs ............ with baited breath
If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers
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#10
Dinosaur Wrote:What about ideas? Those moments of inspiration? They're all in danger of getting lost. I've managed to 'gift' a few that I'll never get around to publishing to other people (one just got incorporated into someone's PhD, for instance), but I've still got plenty in my head/notes on a laptop/scribbled in notebooks, mostly based on my own experience so unlikely to be replicated in the same form by anyone else. Some may be insane, some may not, time will tell, but only if the ideas are preserved in some way. HER's really aren't geared up for that kind of stuff, they wouldn't know how to file it!


This thread is getting more obtuse by the moment. What about the smell of an archive? The memory of a dream? A whispered half-promise in a corridor? Should someone set up a means of preserving them for us too? Let's face it, there is no certain way of preserving things that are vague and unfinished apart from making sure all your notes/jottings/data make perfect sense and are as clear as can be. Can we all manage that? Of course we can't, we're human beings! Who doesn't have piles of notes that might be of some use to someone some day?
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