About the Project

This blog provides a space for discussion of specific strategies and methods to enhance access to, and usability of, primary archaeological research content. It reports on the progress and findings of a new NEH-funded project led by the Alexandria Archive Institute and the ISD Program at the School of Information at UC Berkeley, exploring user needs in the digital humanities.

The focus of this project is on the creators and users of primary content, which we see as a promising but overlooked area of scholarly communications. Primary content is the data produced by researchers, before they are distilled into published syntheses. It typically includes “raw data”, field notes, drawings, maps, photographs, and results of scientific analyses; that is, any content that is at an early stage of the interpretive process.

The planned outcomes of the project are twofold:

(1) Project participants will work together to develop a set of best practice guidelines to meet user experience requirements for humanities computing initiatives. The guidelines will synthesize general findings regarding user needs, and include recommendations for technologies, features, and design patterns that enhance user experience.

(2) Through an iterative process of development and evaluation, we will enhance Open Context, an already deployed open access data sharing system for archaeology and related fields.

This project launches in January 2009 with a 2-day workshop entitled Exploring User Needs around Digital Heritage. This blog will provide frequent reports on our observations and learnings as we proceed with this study, as well as reports on similar efforts and interviews with project participants and others engaged in the digital humanities.

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