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Institute for Digital Archaeology Method & Practice

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Discussion group for the members and faculty of the NEH Funded Institute for Digital Archaeology Method & Practice ( organized by Michigan State University’s Department of Anthropology and MATRIX: The Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences

Stahl: Banda through time feedback

This topic contains 14 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Ann Stahl 6 years ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 15 total)
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    Daniel Pett

    Hi Ann,

    Just dropping some feedback for your vision document that you have collated for the MSUDAI team to give help on. Congrats on producing a thorough document!
    I have a couple of questions for you, maybe you can answer them, maybe you cannot…

    Image license
    You mention that the images you have belongs to various institutions, what license can you disseminate these under? Can you use a creative commons license and perhaps use lower resolution images for this if the institutions want to retain copyright? Do you want the images to be seen by a large audience? Perhaps you could house them on a platform like flickr and use the API from that to get images back into your project?

    Digital division
    You want to focus on making sure the African audience can make full use of your resources. You have some issues here with bandwidth/ISP speed as you have noted. We’ve just released African Rock Art which is really image heavy. Consider using compression techniques on your server – full page caching, Pagespeed mod and gzipping content are good starts, but you’ll need tech help to do this – and client side you could lazy load images and make sure you have a responsive website for mobile consumption. Text alone normally won’t kill your experience, the resources associated are the killer. Chrome makes it easy to test your site using the inspector (f12 on windows).

    Good luck with getting going, ask me if you need anything.



    Eric Kansa

    Hi Ann,

    Sorry for the delay, I was adding comments to the document in DropBox and Ethan said you didn’t have access to those.

    Great project! I would add that the project should reuse controlled vocabularies (like species in the Encyclopedia of Life). Where relevant vocabularies don’t exist, the project should put effort into publishing typologies that can be referenced and reused by others. So, it would be great to also think about ways to document different types in your typology with some text, images, etc. so that other researchers would be able to understand them. While it may take some time for other researchers to publish relevant data, at least when they do, your material would be an excellent source to reference.

    I’m also happy to help use the Open Context API if mapping / data visualization on the WordPress site is wanted.



    Catherine Foley

    I thought I posted this comment back in December but can’t find it.


    On one level the two deliverables (repository and website) you identify in your vision document sound completely doable. But when I start digging into the specifics of the vision document, I get a little worried about the scope of your project.

    The initial foci for your pilot are small finds (KORA) and faunal materials (Open Context). But you also mention documents, photographs and objects as well as oral interviews and field journals. These are vastly different types of material — research data (field journals), museum collections (small finds) and structured data (faunal database).

    If you intend to publish the faunal data via Open Context, I suggest you pick one of the three other types of resources for the pilot KORA repository — small finds or field research data (field journals, maps/elevations, etc.) or primary source materials (oral interviews and photographs). Focusing in on one of these subsets will allow you to fully develop appropriate metadata for those specific materials and become more comfortable implementing the metadata schema. From there you can perhaps research metadata standards that will be useful for the other types of materials — mindful of how the schemes overlap with metadata used for your pilot.

    In short, I suggest you more tightly focus your pilot. If one of your broader goals is digital repatriation, consider which subset of materials will have the most significant impact in this area.


    Catherine Foley

    Ann Stahl

    Thanks Dan, Eric and Catherine for this very helpful feedback, which I’ve just found. We’ve been making progress on gathering and digitizing images from various researchers, everything so far in the collections of individuals. As such I don’t see that there are institutional copyright issues. My assumption was that we would get a letter of agreement from the individuals involved, confirming their willingness to have specific images entered into the repository and specifying that they will be open access, subject to consultations with folks in Ghana. Does that seem on track?

    I take Catherine’s point about focusing the pilot version of the repository and we’ll take some decisions on that shortly. In the meantime, what steps are needed to set up a KORA account, assuming that the materials will be hosted by MATRIX, as we had previously discussed?

    Many thanks!


    Catherine Foley

    Hi Ann,

    You can access KORA at the URL you used in August (

    I have just confirmed that your account is still active on that site. Please let me know if you experience any issues with access.



    Ann Stahl

    Thanks, Catherine. I’ve just recovered my name and password and accessed the KORA site. My grad student and I have been going over KORA documentation and will start the process of setting up our schemes in upcoming weeks. A couple of questions in the meantime: our scanned images are high resolution and therefore large files. What is the ideal image (file) size if we want these images to be accessible to folks who may be accessing them from a phone or through lower speed computer connections (think rural town/village in Ghana)? Also, am I able to add the grad student who is working with me to the KORA project? Can we set her up with a username and add her to the project?

    All best, Ann


    Ann Stahl

    With several administrative things off my desk, I’m set to focus more energy on our digital project–thanks to all the Institute participants who have been diligently discussing snafus and progress. It’s valuable to see your process.

    I see that many of you are going with Reclaim Hosting and are finding that a good option, but I find myself dithering over whether this is good choice from a ‘sustainability’ point of view? I know that this will be the focus of our summer 2016 sessions, but given that I am envisioning the web page as a portal to a long-term repository, I’m concerned about the viability of going with a hosting service that has an annual fee. The fee is modest and not a problem in the short term, but for those of us who see retirement on the horizon, I wonder about longer term sustainability. Will the WordPress plugin under development for KORA provide a sustainable alternative, and is there a projection of when that is likely to be available? Musings/thoughts/insights from the group would be welcome!


    Catherine Foley

    Hi Ann,

    Regarding a new KORA account for a graduate student assistant…

    • Have student sign up for a new account (
    • Send me an email or post here asking me to activate the student’s account (providing me the username on the new account).
    • I can give the student admin privileges for your project.

    There are recommendations on the web for optimal file sizes for image for access in places with limited bandwidth. Basically the smaller the better for file size while maintaining quality.

    Here are some parameters we have used on a recent project in KORA.

    • jpeg (distribution format — keep raw tiff outside KORA)
    • 800 pixel across longest dimensions
    • Compression — “Save for web” in photoshop; 60-70% jpeg quality balances file size and quality of image

    Let me know if I have answered all of your questions.


    Ann Stahl

    Thanks, Catherine. I appreciate the feedback.

    Any update on the WordPress Plugin for KORA?



    Ann Stahl

    This for Catherine: In the spirit of ‘better late than never’, I’m looking to spend the next couple of weeks establishing the pilot repository for our Digital Arch Institute project; to this point we’ve been digitizing resources and working on the web page that will provide a portal to the repository. I’m also feeling more confident about the content of the repository since I was able to travel to Ghana last month to touch base with people in Banda on what they would like to see as part of it. Having the community consultation piece in place makes a big difference and has clarified priorities for the content of the pilot repository.

    I have been reviewing KORA documentation and logged on today to set up our project and develop schemes and controls for our pilot repository; I see the two projects from last summer listed when I log on (DAI-ann.stahl & Digital Archaeology). I do not, however, see a spot to create a new project. Neither does the ‘beginner tutorial’ for “creating projects” on the left side of the KORA home page have content.

    Do you need to create the “Banda thru Time” project on my behalf? Or am I missing some crucial piece of ‘how to’ information? I’d be grateful for feedback/advice.

    Thanks! Ann


    Ann Stahl

    I’ve begun to crack the KORA nut, having now established my first scheme, controls and collection. As I’m starting to ‘ingest’ records, a question: special characters are used in the languages of the Banda area ( for example ɔ, Ɛ, ŋ). I’ve inserted those those characters here by cutting and pasting, and can try to do the same in KORA, but I am wondering about how that will work in searches or in relation to broader metadata standards. Advice from Katherine?

    Thanks, Ann


    Ann Stahl

    On Rights & Creative Commons, so perhaps a question for Eric and Catherine? I’m continuing to ingest records, including the first of the images/videos that will be included in the repository. For images and videos, I am inclined to go with Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. I’ve established a collection titled ‘Rights’ and under that am entering the following to establish conditions: “Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA;

    Does that seem like an appropriate/clear way to include this information in the KORA repository?



    Eric Kansa

    Hi Ann,

    I’d tend to shy away from a license like CC BY-NC-SA. That is a very restrictive license, and does not qualify as “open data”. It would mean virtually no reuse, especially since nobody knows what “commercial” really means. I would be ok with that for indigenous materials, since the ethics would mean stakeholder concerns should come first. But without that kind of circumstance, I strongly recommend against it. In general, the most restrictive I’d go would be a CC-By-SA license. But us there a particular reason why you may want a restrictive license?

    Anyway, this is an issue that has been long discussed among people working on open acces and open data issues. Here’s a longer paper about it:

    and here’s a blog post:
    Creative Commons Non-commercial A Cruel Joke.

    here’s a long policy document about databases (for science) and licensing:



    Ann Stahl

    Thanks, Eric. Good pointers.

    My concern does focus on community, and particularly around images of community members. But the restrictions highlighted in the blog post make me think that CC BY-SA is probably the better option.

    All learning as we go! Best, Ann

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 15 total)

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