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Lisa Bright

Lisa Bright

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February 18, 2016

Creating Structure for TOMB

February 18, 2016 | By | No Comments

As Katy mentioned over on the Digital Archaeology Institute blog, we’re focusing on two major steps in the development of our project: 1) creating the framework, and 2) developing the content. For more details about the content development, head on over to Katy’s post.

Some of the major steps in creating TOMB’s framework will include developing the main map, creating the GeoJSON file the individual site information will pull from, and creating the website structure. I’d like to take a moment and discuss the importance of focusing on website structure. Sitting down and really thinking about how your entire site will be laid out, and how users will navigate through your content is an incredibly important first step that many new developers tend to overlook. I’m sure we’ve all been to bad website before, ones that are poorly thought out where you’re left thinking “where the heck do I find what I’m looking for?!”.

For me, this means taking a step back from the digital realm and putting pen to paper. At this point I’m not concerned with things like fiddling around with the pages to create better search engine optimization (SEO), or ADA compliance. That’s a level of voodoo magic I’ll deal with later (in what at this point feels like a previous life, I worked as a marketing assistant for a campus department focusing on SEO and pay per click advertising so I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeves). What we’re focusing on now is structuring the website so that our intended users, students and teachers, have an enjoyable and educational experience with the site. If you’re new to this process and looking for details instructions/suggestions for creating good website information architecture and content I highly recommend this guide created by Princeton. Read More

Lisa Bright

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January 28, 2016

Changing Directions – Introducing TOMB

January 28, 2016 | By | No Comments

As Katy mentioned in our recent Digital Archaeology Institute blog post, she and I have decided to take our project in a different direction. We originally proposed a project called ossuaryKB, a mortuary method knowledge base. However, as we’ve been working toward the project over the last semester, we hit quite a few roadblocks. After sitting down recently we realized that ossurayKB wasn’t really the project we had a passion for. What we really wanted to make was a tool that was more orientated towards the public learning about mortuary archaeology. So we are proud to announce our new project… TOMB: The Online Map of Bioarchaeology.

TOMB will center around an interactive map featuring case studies and exemplars from mortuary archaeology and bioarchaeological studies. The site will be a space for students and the public to learn more about this field, and still serve as a place for anthropologists to share their research and provide updates. For more details on the project description, please see Katy’s blog post.

This refocusing of the project means that my goals for CHI will also change. Previously I’d discussed the challenges surrounding building a SQL database for ossuaryKB. TOMB will require a different set of technical resources. Over the next three months, I will build the functional structure of the site using a combination of Bootstrap and Leaflet . Specifically, I will be using the open web mapping application template developed by Bryan McBride called bootleaf.

The bootleaf template is available on Github (https://github.com/bmcbride/bootleaf), and well commented. Although I’ve created a website centered around mapping before using bootstrap (Mortuary Mapping), I used CartoDB to make the maps. This will be my first time using leaflet. Thankfully my project partner Katy used bootleaf to create IELDRAN, and have excellent comments on her use of bootleaf on her Github repository(https://github.com/bonesdontlie/Commented-ieldran).

We’re both very excited about the potential TOMB creates, and I look forward to sharing my bootleaf learning experience.

Lisa Bright

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December 2, 2015

ossuaryKB: The Mortuary Method and Practice Knowledge Base

December 2, 2015 | By | No Comments

I’ve previously mentioned that Katy Meyers Emery and myself are working on a larger project called ossuaryKB: The Mortuary Method & Practice Knowledge Base. This project is being produced in conjunction with the Institute on Digital Archaeology Method & Practice. This multiyear institute is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and organized by MSU’s Department of Anthropology and MATRIX.   We attended the first portion (this past August) along with other archaeologists and scholars to develop new skills in digital method and practice. Each participant is required to develop a significant digital archaeological project by the end of the second portion of the institute (August 2016).

OssuaryKB seeks to leverage the diversity found in mortuary archaeology to improve standards, increase conversation and collaboration between different periods and regions of research, and improve methods and practice. In order to do this, we need a single knowledge base where mortuary archaeologists can see best practices, exemplar case studies, innovative methods, and more. This knowledge base will allow researchers to find new methods, see innovative practices, connect with other archaeologists, comment on these new methods and share their own work.

Each project included in the site will have identifiers or keywords that relate to the methods and practices that they are using that will allow people to easily find the project based on those words. For example, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Historic-Era Cemetery would be listed as a project with keywords such as ‘historic’, ‘inhumation’, ‘block-lifting’, ‘low preservation’, ‘redwood coffins’ etc. Users who were interested in learning about unique methods for dealing with ‘low preservation’ would look that up in the knowledge base, and learn about projects like this. Each record about the site will include a narrative about the site, citations, any documentation they used, and space for commenting from the archaeologists and users. In addition to the project records, there will be information about the new and traditional methods that these projects are using. We will also provide links to various websites or databases that are linked to the projects, methods or practices- such as links to ASU standards or BABAO forms.

So, for my CHI project I’ll be working on a portion of this larger project, specifically building the database. I’m taking a KISS approach (keep it simple stupid) and am leaning towards a SQL database. This will of course depend on the hierarchical data organization we decide on for the website functionality. The Digital Archeology Institute also pairs each of the projects with several mentors who provide feedback and help guide the project. Their input may slightly change our trajectory, but I look forward to sharing the process with you all!

Lisa Bright

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November 3, 2015

Don’t fear the database: SQL v. SPARQL

November 3, 2015 | By | 3 Comments

As I previously mentioned in my introduction blog, this year my CHI project is directly related to the project myself and Katy Meyers Emery are working on for the Digital Archaeology Institute. ossuaryKB – The Mortuary Method & Practice Knowledge Base seeks to create a singular location where mortuary archaeologists can see best practices, exemplar case studies, innovative methods and more. We want the site to be functional, allowing people to easily find projects, articles, or forms based on identifiers or keywords. Creating a functional database that will do this is easier said than done. My focus for CHI this year it to create this database.

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Lisa Bright

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October 3, 2015

Ethics and Digital Archaeology/Osteology

October 3, 2015 | By | No Comments

Recently Alison Atkin (@alisonatkin) put a request out on Twitter, asking for examples of how individuals have dealt with ethics and digital osteology.   When it comes to what osteologists choose to share online, there really isn’t a set code of rules or guidelines. Alison was giving a presentation on this lack of protocol at the last BABAO conference, and summed up her talk on her most recent blog post.

What to share online, and what to keep private, is something that is often a delicate balance between the source of the information, and the personal ethics of the individual creating or curating the digital resource. This was something that I had to decide when I created Mortuary Mapping for my CHI project last year, as well as the archival updates I complete this summer.

When I worked excavating the cemetery, I had permission to take photos for personal and teaching purposes. I’m in possession of many images of skeletal remains that would have been relevant to the Mortuary Mapping website. However, I made the personal decision not to include any images of human remains (other than one photo that appeared in a local newspaper article) on the website. I did this out of respect not only to the individuals that were buried there, but for the extended and direct living relatives that may still be in the area.  Read More

Lisa Bright

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September 15, 2015

Re-Introducing Lisa Bright

September 15, 2015 | By | No Comments

Hello again. I’m happy to say that I’m a returning CHI fellow. I’m looking forward to getting to know this new CHI cohort, and learn some new digital tools and tricks. In case you’re just tuning in to the CHI blog, I’ll rewind for a moment and introduce myself.Lisa Bright

I’m Lisa Bright, a second year Ph.D. student in the anthropology department. I’m also currently serving as the Campus Archaeologist for the MSU Campus Archaeology Program. My main scholarly focus is mortuary archaeology. Mortuary archaeology is the study of material remains related to funerary behavior, and the deceased themselves. As a discipline, it covers a wide range of space and time, but I focus on a historic cemetery in San Jose, California. My dissertation examines the pathology and nutrition of the individuals that were interred there. The cemetery was in use from 1875-1935 so I’m hoping that my research will allow a better understanding of health during western expansion and industrialization. My previous CHI project, Mortuary Mapping, focused on creating interactive maps of the cemetery that allowed users to examine variables like age, sex, and button patterns. This summer I added new material that I gathered in trips to San Jose area archives.

My project this year will be a bit different. I was able to participate in the Institute on Digital Archaeology & Practice (DAI) last month. Part of this NEH funded institute requires the completion of a digital project. For CHI, I will be working on creating the database functionality of the DAI project myself and Katy Meyers Emery have proposed: ossuaryKB: The Mortuary Method & Practice Knowledgebase. This knowledgebase will serve as a central location for where mortuary archaeologists can see and share best practices, case examples, forms, innovative methods and more.  I look forward to sharing my progress with you all.

 

Lisa Bright

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August 22, 2015

Mortuary Mapping Summer Update

August 22, 2015 | By | No Comments

Hi! After 5 weeks of surprisingly highly productive research in California, I’ve returned to MSU.  I took nearly 2,000 pictures, 500+ screen shots, searched 50 years of newspapers, 15 roles of microfilm, and visited 6 archives.  I truly didn’t expect to come back with that much data.  Some of the archival documentation is sensitive in nature (Coroner’s Inquest Reports, Death Certificates, etc.), and some of the archives have tighter permissions on sharing images of objects they own.  Therefore, with the permission of the California Room at the San Jose Public Library I’ve added a series of images of Infirmary Fund receipts from the Clyde Arbuckle Research Collection.  These images record receipts of warrants/claims paid out by the Santa Clara County Infirmary Fund during the 1880’s.  They present a unique window into relief efforts to aid the poor/indigent members of the community, as well as the daily operating costs of the hospital.  Of particular interest (and a very exciting find for me), are receipts 603, 633 and 634 from 1886 which all relate to digging graves, opening graves, and burying indigents.  As I sort through the pictures and data collected this summer, I hope to add more information to the newly created Archival Research section of Mortuary Mapping.  Please feel free to take a look, and let me know if you have any questions (or better suggestions on transcribing the handwriting!).

Lisa Bright

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June 8, 2015

Mortuary Mapping Summer Expansion

June 8, 2015 | By | No Comments

Mortuary Mapping, my online site documenting the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Historic Cemetery launched in early May. This first phase of the project focused on the creation and implementation of the interactive maps of the burials using Cartodb. However, I see Mortuary Mapping as a space that will grow alongside the project research. Next month I will be traveling to California to conduct archival research. I’m hoping to ideally locate the burial records (although all attempts to locate them thus far have failed), early maps of the area, and any newspaper information related to the cemetery.

This summer I plan to expand Mortuary Mapping by adding an archival section. I will not only be sharing digitized images from the archives (pending of course individual archive regulation regarding the redistribution of their material), and creating a database of the information I locate. Anthropologists are all about context, and I hope that adding some about the site will allow others to connect with the cemetery, as well as save other researchers a bit of legwork. I look forward to sharing my finds from the archives!

Lisa Bright

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May 8, 2015

Mortuary Mapping Launched!

May 8, 2015 | By | No Comments

Mortuary Mapping has officially launched! To say that this project is near and dear to my heart would be an understatement. I’ve had the good fortune to be a part of the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (SCVMC) Historic Cemetery project since early in the excavation phase. I worked as an osteologist, excavating and analyzing remains for a total of five months in 2012 and 2013. This site will also be the focus of my dissertation, where I will examine the health and nutrition of the individuals buried there.

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Lisa Bright

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March 9, 2015

Mapping Tools

March 9, 2015 | By | One Comment

When my CHI project shifted from database driven to my new mapping focus I had a decision to make; which mapping tool to use? There are many great tools available for free, or for limited cost, but there were a few key aspects I needed to consider.

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