Digital is for Everyone
During my tenure as a 2011 Cultural Heritage Informatics Fellow, I created a digital repository for materials relating to Mississippian archaeological sites. This project involves the collection, digitization, and organization of materials such as maps, photographs, field notes, publications, gray literature, bibliographies, websites, and raw data within a single digital repository. The repository functions to preserve materials in a digital format while improving scholarly accessibility and providing an integrated, searchable network of relationships between diverse types and sets of information. The repository was built using the KORA digital repository and publishing platform (http://kora.matrix.msu.edu/).
The repository currently contains images (artifact photographs, site photographs, excavation photographs, historic photographs, maps, etc) and web resources, but documents and data (as well as more images and web resources) will be added as they become available. Immediate plans for publicizing the existence of the repository and soliciting contributions from other Mississippian researchers include both formal and informal interactions at regional and national archaeology conferences. Due to the sensitive nature of some of these materials (i.e. intellectual property, cultural sensitivity, etc) I do not anticipate that the complete repository will be available for unhindered public use. However, I do plan to eventually develop some type of outward-facing website that will publicize the existence of the project, offer limited access to materials (when express permission is granted by the researchers who contribute said materials), and provide information/links that may be of interest to members of the general public. My hope is that the quality of my digital repository work with the Aztalan materials will help to convince other Mississippian researchers of its value and to contribute what they can to this project in the future.
I would like to thank Dr. Lynne Goldstein for graciously providing (and continuing to provide) data and materials she has collected over many years of research at the Aztalan site. I am grateful for her general expertise in Mississippian archaeology and fortunate that she sees the value in digital repositories as powerful data/information management tools for archaeologists. I would also like to thank Dr. Ethan Watrall for his enthusiasm, support, guidance, and especially for his confidence in my abilities when I had no confidence of my own. I appreciate that he created and implemented this program in a way that encouraged participation from the non-technically inclined. Digital really is for everyone.