In an earlier post, I mentioned that the Omeka toolkit might have useful archaeological applications. The Omeka people themselves picked up on that thought, and there’s some interesting discussion on their blog on how smaller institutions (‘Beyond the Museum‘) might use Omeka.
“[…]we have always intended Omeka to be used not only for history museum exhibitions, but also by enthusiast collectors, scholars, libraries, and community groups in many fields—really anyone interested in collecting and displaying digital objects in rich visual and interpretive environments. One good example of Omeka’s flexibility is the community site braddockheritage.org, which was developed in concert with CHNM by local volunteers in the Braddock district of Fairfax County, VA.”
I’m reminded again how timely the emergence of this tool is by Bill Caraher’s discussion on the state of archaeological survey project websites:
“[…]survey project websites are a mixed bag[…] It seems to me that since many survey projects tend to be less stable institutional entities with life spans between a few years and a decade and make little investment in semipermanent, physical infrastructure (e.g. dig houses, site guards, fences, et c.), this often translates to instability on the web[…]The preceding links to survey projects show how most (but not all!) have broken links, pictures that fail to appear, or offer little more than static data (nice photos, some maps… in fact, much of this doesn’t count as data at all; of course, some surveys, like the the Sydney Cyprus Survey Project, have archived their data officially in places like the Arts and Humanities Data Service ).
If Omeka can live up to its promise, I could imagine a free-ish hosting service (much like how WordPress hosts this blog) with Omeka installed on it, and survey archaeologists uploading their information to it from wherever they are in the world. I haven’t yet played with Omeka, but if all the various mapping services out there can be mashed in there too, then we can perhaps mitigate the factors that Bill discusses.