The Secret Life of Data

In January 2016, The Alexandria Archive Institute launched a three-year project funded by a Research and Development grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (#PR-234235-16). The project involves a longitudinal study of practices of creation, management, and reuse of archaeological data drawn from three geographical areas (Africa, Europe, and South America) to investigate data quality and modeling requirements for re-use by a larger research community.

The Secret Life of Data (SLO-data) project will improve the quality of information collected during archaeological excavations across the globe, preserve this information, and share it with the public. Outcomes include exemplary open datasets, an expansion of Open Context’s data publishing services, and online educational modules. The project team includes researchers at Stanford University, OCLC Research, the University of Michigan, and the Institute for Field Research.

Full project website (The Alexandria Archive Institute)


Special Section of May 2018 Advances in Archaeological Practice has six papers resulting from the April 2017 forum. SLO-data publications include Data Beyond the Archive in Digital Archaeology: An Introduction to the Special Section by Sarah Whitcher Kansa and Eric C. Kansa (Published versionOpen access version) and Beyond the Archive: Bridging Data Creation and Reuse in Archaeology, by Ixchel M. Faniel, Anne Austin, Eric Kansa, Sarah Whitcher Kansa, Phoebe France, Jennifer Jacobs, Ran Boytner and Elizabeth Yakel (Published versionOpen access version)

Society for American Archaeology Conference (Washington, DC) in April 2018: Paper Considering Communities of Practice throughout the Data Lifecycle, by Sarah Whitcher Kansa, Ixchel M. Faniel, Anne Austin, Eric Kansa, Phoebe France, Jennifer Jacobs, Ran Boytner and Elizabeth Yakel

Society for American Archaeology Conference (Washington, DC) in April 2018. Forum Making Archaeology FAIR.

NEH Preservation and Access Research & Development Project Directors Meeting in June 2017. View the SLO-data Project slides.

Society for American Archaeology Conference (Vancouver, BC) in April 2017. Forum Beyond Data Management: A Conversation about “Digital Data Realities.” Read about it in Storify.

Computer Applications in Archaeology Conference (Atlanta, GA) in March 2017. Paper A Reality Check: The Impact of Open Data in Archaeology, by Anne Austin, Eric Kansa, Ixchel Faniel, Sarah Kansa, Ran Boynter, Jennifer Jacobs, and Phoebe France

Critical Perspectives on the Practice of Digital Archaeology (Cambridge, MA) in February 2017. Presentation and Panel Discussions. View the AAI News post about this event, and read about it in Storify (including videos of all presentations).

Project Lead:

Sarah Whitcher Kansa, Ph.D., Project Director, Alexandria Archive Institute/Open Context

Team Members

  • Eric C. Kansa, Ph.D., Technology Director and Co-Investigator, Alexandria Archive Institute/Open Context
  • Ixchel M. Faniel, Ph.D., Co-Investigator, OCLC
  • Anne Austin, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Missouri – St. Louis
  • Ran Boytner, Ph.D., Senior Personnel, Institute for Field Research
  • Elizabeth Yakel, Ph.D., Consultant, University of Michigan, School of Information
  • Jennifer Jacobs, Ph.D., Research Assistant, Independent Scholar