Category Archives: ADS Projects

CONNECTED: Connecting trusted Arts and Humanities data repositories

CONNECTED: Connecting trusted Arts and Humanities data repositories is a newly funded activity, supported by AHRC. It is led by the British Library, with the Archaeology Data Service and the Oxford Text Archive as co-investigators, and is supported by consultants from MoreBrains Cooperative.The CONNECTED team believes that improving discovery and curation of heritage and emergent content types in the arts and humanities will increase the impact of cultural resources, and enhance equity. Great work is already being done on discovery services for the sector, so we decided to look upstream, and focus on facilitating repository and archive deposit.

The UK boasts a dynamic institutional repository environment in the HE sector, as well as a range of subject- or field-specific repositories. With a distributed repository landscape now firmly established, challenges and inefficiencies still remain that reduce its impact. These include issues around discovery and access, but also questions around interoperability, the relationship of specialised vs general infrastructures, and potential duplication of effort from an author/depositor perspective. Greater coherence and interoperability will effectively unite different trusted repository services to form a resilient distributed data service, which can grow over time as new individual services are required and developed. Alongside the other projects funded as part of ‘Scoping future data services for the arts and humanities’, CONNECTED will help to deliver this unified network.

As practice in the creative arts becomes more digital and the digital humanities continue to thrive, the diversity of ways in which this research is expressed continues to grow. Researchers are increasingly able to combine artefacts, documents, and materials in new and innovative ways; practice-based research in the arts is creating a diverse range of (often complex) outputs, creating new curation and discovery needs; and heritage collections often contain artefacts with large amounts of annotation and commentary amassed over years or centuries, across multiple formats, and with rich contextual information. This expansion is already exposing the limitations of our current information systems, with the potential for vital context and provenance to become invisible. Without additional, careful, future-proofing, the risks of information loss and limits on access will only expand. In addition, metadata creation, deposit, preservation, and discovery strategies should, therefore, be tailored to meet the very different needs of the arts and humanities.

A number of initiatives are aimed at improving interoperability between metadata sources in ways that are more oriented towards the needs of the arts and humanities. Drawing these together with the insights to be gained from the abilities (and limitations) of bibliographic and data-centric metadata and discovery systems, will help to generate robust services in the complex, evolving landscape of arts and humanities research and creation.

The CONNECTED project will assemble experts, practitioners, and researchers to map current gaps in the content curation and discovery ecosystem and weave together the strengths and potentials of a range of platforms, standards, and technologies in the service of the arts and humanities community. Our activities will run until the end of May, and will comprise three phases:

Phase 1 – Discovery

We will focus on repository or archive deposit as a foundation for the discovery and preservation of diverse outputs, and also as a way to help capture the connections between those objects and the commentary, annotation, and other associated artefacts. 

A data service for the arts and humanities must be developed with researcher needs as a priority, so the project team will engage in a series of semi-structured interviews with a variety of stakeholders including researchers, librarians, curators, and information technologists. The interviews will explore the following ideas:

  • What do researchers need when engaging in discovery of both heritage materials and new outputs?
  • Are there specific needs that relate to different types of content or use-cases? For example, research involving multimedia or structured information processing at scale?
  • What can the current infrastructure support, and where are the gaps between what we have and what we need?
  • What are the feasible technical approaches to transform information discovery?

Phase 2 – Data service programme scoping and planning

The findings from phase 1 will be synthesised using a commercial product strategy approach known as a canvas analysis. Based on the initial impressions from the semi-structured interviews, it is likely that an agile, product, or value proposition canvas will be used to synthesise the findings and structure thinking so that a coherent and robust strategy can be developed. Outputs from the strategy canvas exercise will then be applied to a fully costed and scoped product roadmap and budget for a national data deposit service for the arts and humanities.

Phase 3 – Scoping a unified archiving solution

Building on the partnerships and conversations from the previous phases, the feasibility of a unified ‘deposit switchboard’ will be explored. The purpose of such a switchboard is to enable researchers, curators, and creators to easily deposit items in the most appropriate repository or archive in their field for the object type they are uploading. Using insights gained from the landscaping interviews in phase 1, the team will identify potential pathways to developing a routing service for channelling content to the most appropriate home.

We will conclude with a virtual community workshop to explore the challenges and desirability of the switchboard approach, with a special focus on the benefits this could bring to the uploader of new content and resources.

This is an ambitious project, through which we hope to deliver:

  • A fully costed and scoped technical and organisational roadmap to build the required components and framework for the National Collection
  • Improved usage of resources in the wider GLAM and institutional network, including of course the Archaeology Data Service, The British Library’s Shared Research Repository, and Oxford Text Archive
  • Steps towards a truly community-governed data infrastructure for the arts and humanities as part of the National Collection

As a result of this work, access to UK cultural heritage and outputs will be accelerated and simplified, the impact of the arts and humanities will be enhanced, and we will help the community to consolidate the UK’s position as a global leader in digital humanities and infrastructure.

Watercolour map

Does anyone have a map?

If there is one thing that I really enjoy, it’s exploring data spatially. I really enjoy being able to look at a map and see where clusters are and see if I can find trends or even if there is anything near me. To me, this has been one of the main things that I’ve felt that the ADS is missing on its website. There is such a wealth of spatial information in our database that it only makes sense that we should have a really good map, right?

Right?

Well, eventually we will, as soon as I build it.

So what is the plan? I, Teagan, digital archives officer and map enthusiast, will be working towards making a searchable map interface that will work for the ADS Library and maybe more someday, but baby steps. This post will work as kind of a dev library to let everyone know what we’ve (I’ve) been doing towards making this map a reality.

Continue reading Does anyone have a map?

ARIADNE Portal UK launch!

15 March 2021 sees the UK launch of the beta version of the new ARIADNE portal, a powerful user interface enabling exploration of heritage records and archaeological archives from across the world. The portal already enables access to data from the UK, Netherlands, Hungary, Italy, Greece, Slovenia, Spain, Bulgaria, Romania and Sweden, with additional countries being added weekly.

Continue reading ARIADNE Portal UK launch!

Archiving Day of Archaeology (2011-2017)

This case study describes the background and behind the scenes work that has gone into archiving the Day of Archaeology Project. The final digital archive for Day of Archaeology is now live on the ADS.

Photograph of Siddhi Laxmi Temple in Bhaktapur
Siddhi Laxmi Temple in Bhaktapur. Digital Archaeology Foundation (2016): A day saving the temples of Nepal with Digital Archaeologyhttps://doi.org/10.5284/1080729

The Day of Archaeology (DoA) project aimed to provide a window into the daily lives of archaeologists. The project asked people working, studying or volunteering in the archaeological world to participate in a “Day of Archaeology” each year by recording whatever their actual activity was on a specific day,sharing it through text, images or video on the Day of Archaeology blog. By choosing a single day, readers could experience a real cross-section of archaeological work, whether exotic or mundane, that reflected the reality of the profession.

Continue reading Archiving Day of Archaeology (2011-2017)

The future for England’s Rock Art

Several users have been in touch concerned over the future of England’s Rock Art website. Suffice to say that users should rest easy that no data is being lost, and public access to data is being retained.

Here’s the important background as to why this is happening:

England’s Rock Art website was originally launched in Summer 2008, as the culmination of a Historic England (then English Heritage project) to catalogue carvings in the Northumberland region. Since then it has been added to, principally with records from the Beckensall archive that were previously stored with Newcastle University. The website itself is actually a fairly complex application, with an underlying spatial database and Java framework that allows the user to interrogate the database.

Since its launch, the ADS have continued to perform a wide range of updates, patches and migrations on the application to ensure it’s longevity. These have involved major rebuilds in 2011, 2015, and 2018. Despite this additional work, undertaken with no additional funding, some features have begun to creak and latterly break (such as the map interface). More recently, the framework as a whole has become outdated, being deemed at risk for the last 18 months, and is now at a point where a major rebuild/application migration is required. This is not only to retain functionality, but also for security.

We take security very seriously here, and as such and in consultation with our IT services have agreed that the application is now at its end of life, and sadly needs to be replaced. We don’t take such decisions lightly. We’re aware from access stats that Rock Art has on average 30 unique visits every month and has a core interest group that needs to access the data, so we’re currently taking steps to make sure the data in the Rock Art database is maintained and made publicly accessible in perpetuity.

What’s happening?

The data itself (i.e. the text and images used in the database) is being turned into a standard ADS public archive. This means the individual records (CSV) images (JPG/TIF) and VRML will be available to access download. This includes all the later additions such as the Beckensall archive.

This means, for example, that all the information on the page for an ERA record such as this one, will still be there, just not in the website format and perhaps not as aesthetically pleasing.

We’re hoping to have this done as soon as possible, and when ready the ERA URL will resolve to the new archive.

Further ahead, there are some advantages to bringing the ERA data into a standard archive. The metadata can be incorporated within our Collections Management System (CMS) and Object Management System (OMS), the latter of which is forming the basis of our plans to centralise and implement cross-searching of Objects (i.e. files), and also to benefit from technical developments for external sharing such as IIIF. Overall, the data will be better curated, access widened by bringing it ‘in-house’.

In addition, we have plans to devote staff time to build on the raw data to develop the archive into an ADS Special Collection which replicates the database and map-based experiences we know a lot of our users enjoy for example Roman Amphora or Roman Rural Settlement of Britain). This is being done as a staff training exercise, so timescale for completion is less certain but I would hope we have an Advanced interface ready in 2021.

We hope all our users will understand that this work is being undertaken as a practical response to a tricky problem that impacts all public ICT applications at some point. In this case, and because the resource was already held by ADS we’re happy the data are secure and will be made publicly accessible as soon as possible, and that where we can (and remember the ADS has no core funding) we will continue to enhance access to the data so that the legacy of the original project is continued.

Summer Internship With the ADS: Heritage Open Days

The following is a blog written by Chloe Rushworth, who has recently completed a 4-week Voluntary Placement with the ADS. Chloe has been working with the Curatorial and Technical Team to investigate some new approaches to how we interact with data within the Archive. Below, she gives a run through on her huge contribution to creating a ‘Curated Collection’ collating data that relates to sites participating in Heritage Open Days. The aims of this project are for this collection to work as an educational tool, to both increase awareness and knowledge of the archaeological and historical importance of the sites that are taking part in the Heritage Open Days, and to show how the Archive can add to the experience of the Heritage Open Days themselves.

If you want to see the results, the Collection is now live. Over to Chloe!

Continue reading Summer Internship With the ADS: Heritage Open Days

Our Tweeted Times for #FestivalOfArchaeology

As part of the CBA’s #FestivalOfArchaeology in 2020, I spent a light-hearted day revisiting some of Internet Archaeology’s and ADS’s milestones. I also asked those whose paths intersected and crossed ours to join in and share memories.

We’ve made a compilation for your enjoyment.

Continue reading Our Tweeted Times for #FestivalOfArchaeology
Cartoon showing the way to a data repository.

Guidelines for Depositors, a reintroduction

The first half of 2020 has been an interesting one for sure. We’ve been working from home with our partners, children, and kettles as coworkers and we’ve begun to look at how information is presented on our website.

You may or may not have come to our site to find out guidance on depositing data. In that quest, you may have found a document/guide that was spread across several webpages, with no images, an over eager table of contents, and a reminder it was written in 2015. Well, you’ll be happy to know, that it’s gotten a bit of a face lift.

So without further ado, allow me to reintroduce yourself to our Guidelines for Depositors.

Continue reading Guidelines for Depositors, a reintroduction

The Redesign Continues

Hello all, and thank you very much for your feedback to our website redesign survey, they have been really helpful in the redesigning of the website. We are happy to now say its beginning to be built! However, if you would like to take part in the survey there is still time to provide your input.

Redesign Survey

Our work is currently concentrating on the menu to make the new design accessible, mobile-friendly and intuitive. An early peek of the new clean and sleek design can be seen below.

Image of the proposed new website header.

I hope that you are as excited about the design as we are! We are hoping that the new design will be completed soon providing you, our users, with a full preview and the opportunity to comment on the design before we launch.

Once again we would like to involve you in this part of the project so keep your eyes peeled for our posts on the design process, social media polls and other opportunities to get involved. And do tell us what you think of the new simpler menu design in the comments below.

ADS Homepage Redesign

Here at the Archaeology Data Service, we believe that the way in which we connect to the past truly matters, and as a result, we are redesigning our website’s homepage.  For the first stage of this, we will be carrying out a survey into how you, the user, use the website and if there are any elements you would like improved or added. 

Tell us your opinions via this survey.

The second stage will involve having a sneak peek at the designs and offering your opinion on them in terms of what you like and dislike.

So get ready for your opportunity to be involved in redesigning the face of our business, for we believe every story is important. If you have any questions we are always very willing to answer.

Example ADS new homepage design