Ad maiora!

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The STVDIVM is over: our laptops are now turned off and everyone is returning home, carrying a set of new skills and fresh relationships.

We brought together twenty-four archaeologists, including students, researchers, professionals, and MiBACT’s employees (from the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage). No one before had ever dove so deep into the world of Archaeological Open Data. During the three days meeting, they received and processed much information, and they soiled their hand with data: downloading, cleaning and publishing them. They also debated about legal and ethical issues, and about licenses. Sometimes their eyes popped out of their heads while looking at the magic of Open Data. More important though, they realised that working with data is not the same as working with Open Data. Data are always data, but open data enhances their potential thanks to the ability of amplifying community engagement and collaboration.

We won’t tell you word for word what happened, but what you should know is that we definitely kept our promises. Going beyond the theoretical and practical concepts, what was really important is the step forward made in shaping a community of people driven by the idea of sharing data as a way to deeply innovate and transform Archaeology.

What the attendees at the STVDIVM truly understood is that working with oOpen dData – and sharing them – implies the development of an open and inclusive community, in which each and everyone is able to advance the knowledge, generating a positive and collective value.

This is the birth of what we can define a community of practice: a network of informal communication linking a group of professionals (archaeologists, in our case) working and learning together, always relying on each other’s knowledge.

In Archaeology the community of practice should not be limited solely to the excavation team, but it should be rather defined as an international and multidisciplinary virtual community. The enormous potential of data sharing through the Internet allows us archaeologists to constitute ourselves as a scientific community of practice.

Raw data is indeed the fundamental building block of any research, and anyone working in this field has to turn to it in order to develop new hypothesis or historical reconstructions.

It might start slowly at first – we have seen it already in  Pisa Open School of Archaeological Data – but eventually the data-sharing culture gets contagious, and the Archaeological Data Therapy always produces new ideas in those who received it.

The Pisa meeting in July brought to the creation of MODA (Archaeological Open Data Manifesto), intended to shape the identity of the newly born community and to define its goals. After the meeting in Pompeii, the community makes another step forward with the decision of building a collaborative platform, used to gather and share raw data, and, with the help of the community, to prepare them for publishing as open datasets.

Sharing data in open format implies a choice that is in the first place cultural rather than technological. Let’s take this route and technology will follow, giving us all the tools needed to overcome the hurdles.

Particle physicists have ArXiv.
Archaeologists will have TABVLARIVM.
And that’s a promise.

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