I am a member of the Working Group on Open Archaeology. Recently in the discussion, Anthony Beck linked to a recent presentation of his called ‘Dig the new breed: how open approaches can empower archaeologists’:
In one of his slides, he mentions Richard Bradley, from my alma mater, the University of Reading, and how Richard used the grey literature from various commercial bodies to write his history of bronze age Britain. He links to this article. As I was reading this, it occurred to me that here is a perfect opportunity for crowdsourcing… perhaps.
What would it cost to digitize all of the UK’s grey literature? Here are the plans for a $20 DIY book scanner which uses a basic point-and-shoot digital camera. And here is an open source optical character recognition package from the good people at Google.
So only two hurdles remain: getting access to the grey literature, and the man-power to do this (hence the crowdsourcing). It would be interesting perhaps for a phd student to try this out at their local archaeological consultancy, and then perhaps use some data mining techniques (like in this example) to quickly begin to extract useful information.
The technology is there… let’s make it work!