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February 4, 2011

Collaboration in Zotero

February 4, 2011 | By | 2 Comments

I recently gave two workshops on Zotero to give an overview of its features, evangelize for its use, and to suggest models for collaboration that take advantage of group libraries. One workshop was conducted as a departmental lunch-and-learn for historians, and the other for librarians interested in Zotero’s sharing capabilities. Each group was excited by the examples of collaboration I provided and provided their own stimulating ideas on how they might use Zotero. Here are some examples from my own collaborate work that I showcased:

Fostering a Field

My first example was the group library I have assembled for the Football Scholars Forum, an academic monthly book club that invites authors via Skype to discuss their work. In the Zotero library, we have a folder that contains all of the sessions we have conducted so far, with attachments to each citation that include review essays, news stories, and the audio recording of the Read More

Katy Meyers


January 28, 2011

Open Access Archaeology: Two Different Approaches

January 28, 2011 | By | 4 Comments

Archaeological site information is a precious commodity; once material is fully excavated it is the only knowledge we have of the site. After spending, years (or even decades) excavating a site the information can become packed away in a few notebooks or boxes, lost in the realm of gray material, and not uncovered until needed by another regional specialist or graduate student. Some information becomes a heavily guarded secret to prevent loss of material, either due to looting of the site or forced return due to NAGPRA. A third option now exists: make the information visible on the internet. This is the option that I am advocating for: open access archaeology.

One of the problems for archaeologists is that what we do, the process by which we build hypotheses, create inferences, and the methods for analyzing the materials we use are not understood by the general public. The media has portrayed archaeologists Read More

Ethan Watrall


January 19, 2011

Announcing the 2011 Cultural Heritage Informatics Fellows

January 19, 2011 | By | No Comments

I am extremely happy to announce this year’s Cultural Heritage Informatics Fellows. The CHI Fellowship program offers MSU graduate students (in cultural heritage focused departments) with the theoretical and methodological skills necessary to creatively apply information, computing, and communication technologies to cultural heritage materials. In addition, the fellowship provides graduate students with the opportunity to influence the current state of cultural heritage informatics, and become leaders in the future of cultural heritage informatics. During the course of their fellowship (which lasts an academic year), fellows will develop a significant and innovative cultural heritage informatics project.

This year’s fellows show great promise, and I’m very much looking forward to their projects and their contributions to the field of cultural heritage informatics.

Jennifer Bengtson

Jennifer is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Anthropology. She is primarily interested in the bioarchaeology of Late Prehistoric Midwestern peoples – specifically in issues of gender, health, and Read More

Ethan Watrall


January 12, 2011

Announcing the Cultural Heritage Informatics Fieldschool

January 12, 2011 | By | One Comment

We are extremely happy to officially announce the launch of the Cultural Heritage Informatics Fieldschool. Taking place from May 31st to July 1st (2011) on the campus of Michigan State University, the Cultural Heritage Informatics Fieldschool will introduce students to the tools and techniques required to creatively apply information and computing technologies to cultural heritage materials and questions.

The CHI Fieldschool is a unique experience that employs the model of an archaeological fieldschool (in which students come together for a period of 5 or 6 weeks to work on an archaeological site in order to learn how to do archaeology). Instead of working on an archaeological site, however, students in the CHI Fieldschool will come together to collaboratively work on several cultural heritage informatics projects. In the process they will learn a great deal about what it takes to build applications and digital user experiences that serve the domain Read More

Katy Meyers


December 27, 2010

The Gothic Ivories Project, a Digital Museum Exemplar

December 27, 2010 | By | 3 Comments

One of the primary advantages of hosting an archive online is that it can be revised and expanded from anywhere in the world by any number of individuals. This the approach chosen by such projects as “The Gothic Ivories” ( It serves as a repository where institutions from around the globe can post descriptions, images and discussions on these ivory pieces into a single digital museum. The project launched in October 2010, and consists of material from 98 institutions from 15 countries. The project allows for anyone with ivories to add to the collection, from public museums to private collectors.

Wikimedia Commons 2010: Courtly scenes Gothic Ivory

Gothic ivories were popular in Western Europe from the 13th to mid 16th centuries. They consist of small carved elephant ivory figurines, including miniature statuettes, mirror backs, diptychs and triptychs (two or three hinged tablets of images). The pieces are primarily carved Read More

Katy Meyers


December 1, 2010

The Mourners: A Unique Digital Archive

December 1, 2010 | By | One Comment

With the growing use of Digital Humanities, the question is whether or not this online format can aid scholars in revealing anything new, what can technology allow us to do that we couldn’t before? How can technology aid us in moving beyond the traditional forms of study? Digital archives are becoming increasingly common, creating open access to sources that previously would have been unavailable to most scholars. Not only do these materials become widely available from anywhere, but they can also be widely interpreted. Most frequently digital archives are serving as online repositories for text, such as the Early English Books Online, which displays over 125,000 texts from 15th through 17th century Britain, or the current Google sponsored project to digitize the Dead Sea Scrolls. However, digital archives are not limited to text.

The Mourners ( is an online museum exhibit sponsored by the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon and the French Read More

Micalee Sullivan


November 15, 2010

“Sixteen Tons”: A U.S. and South African Mineworkers’ Archive

November 15, 2010 | By | 7 Comments

It was not evident to me how little the world tends to remember about the story of the working class and labor history until I visited the De Beers Mining Museum in Kimberley, South Africa. The story of the mineworkers, their families, and their communities is hidden behind the celebrated legacy of a successful company and its founder Cecil Rhodes, whose “ambition, enterprise, and vision” helped to tame the “madness and mayhem” of the frontier. The mining museum does little to inform visitors of the dangerous and often deadly conditions that thousands of men partook in on a daily basis, and there is no tribute from De Beers honoring the countless workers lost while in the mines.

My CHI project, “Sixteen Tons”: A U.S. and South African Mineworkers’ Archive will tell the story of these workers, their families, and their communities by creating a public archive and online exhibit that documents Read More

Katy Meyers


November 11, 2010

Project Introduction: The Bone Collective

November 11, 2010 | By | 6 Comments

The use of archaeological skeletal material is strongly reliant on methods for the identification of sex, age, ancestry, disease, and other variables that leave their marks on bone. As methods improve, identification also improves. Throughout the archaeological community, there is constant re-assessment of these methods as well as the creation of new more accurate ones especially through the innovative use of technology. However, the progress of this field is limited by its ability to communicate this progress of the various levels of academia and different international institutions. While texts, journals and conferences do allow for the transfer of information, they are limited in the information they choose to include and the audience that they address. We need to move beyond a one way transfer of knowledge to a community sourced discourse and dialogue.

Therefore, I have begun work on a project known as “The Bone Collective”. The goal is to create a Read More

Ethan Watrall


October 1, 2010

Announcing the Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative

October 1, 2010 | By | No Comments

Hello World

We’re extremely pleased to announce the launch of the Michigan State University Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative. The CHI Initiative will ultimately serve two main purposes. First, it will be a platform for scholars across a wide variety of cultural heritage disciplines, departments, and programs at Michigan State University (social anthropology, archaeology, history, art history, cultural and historical geography, classics, museum studies, etc) to collaborate and communicate in the domain of cultural heritage informatics. Its extremely important to note that when we say “scholars,” we’re not just referring to professors, but professional staff (librarians, archivists, technologists, etc) and graduate students as well (heck, even undergraduates). Second, the CHI Initiative will serve as a platform for a variety of educational efforts designed to equip students (both undergraduate and graduate) with the practical and analytical skills necessary to creatively apply information and communication technologies to cultural heritage materials, Read More