Chatting #fieldnotes : rethinking notetaking workflows in field archaeology

Submitted by Isto Huvila on Wed, 04/01/2015 - 10:56

Poster at the CAA 2015 conference, Siena, Italy.


The current forms-based paradigm of documenting observations in field has proved to be tenacious. The structured approach has many advantages. It helps to standardise documentation practices, it is easy to implement in paper-based document workflow and as the large majority of archeological database systems show, it has been easy to implement in digital systems as well. The approach has been criticised in several occasions as being inflexible and for giving precedence to formal and from interpretative and contentual perspectives empoverished documentation [3]. More recently, for instance, the advocates of, for instance, semantic web, linked data and wiki-based database approaches (e.g. [2]; [1]) have remarked that with the currently available technologies, there are no technical needs to deploy similarly rigid user interfaces as there can be argued to be in workflows based on paper-based documentation or relational data model.
This poster describes a new proposed model for interacting with an archaeological field documentation database. The work builds on an empirical analysis and formal description of archaeological field documentation work flows, and a small-scale action research project with an aim of developing a proof-of-concept of a new type of interface and documentation workflow model for documenting archaeological fieldwork. The approach is based on combination of the metaphor of a chat service (familiar to most of us from services like ICQ, AOL messenger, and iMessage) and a hashtag-based semantic annotation system. The poster reports the results of work flow analysis and demonstrates the use of the new database interface design approach.



[1] Isto Huvila. Being Formal and Flexible: Semantic Wiki as an Archaeological e-Science Infrastructure. In Mingquan Zhou, Iza Romanowska, Zhongke Wu, Pengfei Xu, and Philip Verhagen, editors, Revive the Past: Proceeding of the 39th Conference on Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology, Beijing, 12-16 April 2011, pages 186–197, Amsterdam, 2012. Amsterdam University Press.

[2]  F. Niccolucci, A. Felicetti, S. Hermon, and K. Nys. Managing Full-text Excavation Data with Semantic Tools. In K. Debattista, C. Perlingieri, D. Pitzalis, and S. Spina, editors, 10th International Symposium on Virtual Reality, Archaeology and Cultural Heritage VAST (2009). Eurographics Association, 2009.

[3]  Catalin Pavel. Describing and interpreting the past : European and American approaches to the written record of the excavation. Editura Universitatii din Bucuresti, Bucuresti, 2010.

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