Notes from forum/workshop “From Digitization to Preservation: Digital Collections, Needs and Challenges”

On May 31, 2013 CoDA led the event co-sponsored by the American Rock Art Research Association (ARARA) during the XVII International Congress of IFRAO.

It was a two part forum/workshop that emphasized key issues and challenges in the life cycle of digital collections from digitization and digital capture to preservation and access.

The forums engaged the IFRAO community on three intersecting sets of issues that embody the digital cultural heritage lifecycle:

  • Moving from physical to virtual: Digital representations and born-digital materials making

  • Where does it all go? Hard drives and cloud repositories

  • Digital Stewardship and Sharing. Planning for long term (10+ years) preservation and access to digital heritage

In the second session we provided an overview and discussion of our freely available database and content management systems

  • Codifi + Mukurtu CMS Overview

The Center for Digital Archaeology thanks you all for attending, asking such great questions, and making our Forum such a success! As a special present to all the participants we are posting these notes from the forum.

Part I:

CoDA introduction

Purpose: 2 part forum workshop,

CoDA will be giving 5 day intensive training @ DHSI, then CoDA will be at ATALM on June 12 to give a 3 part forum


  • Moving from physical to digital/virtual

  • How to make sure content survives

    • Digital Sterwardship/sustainability

  • Brand new tech that CoDA developed

    • Codifi: JVRP

    • Mukurtu CMS


  • Do you work digitally? Why or why not? What is stopping you from? What sort of programs do you use?

Bob: Digital rock art data, CDs, DVDs, RAID arrays w/terabyte drives, 20-30 terabytes of data, no offsite/cloud backups

Outcomes: Practical approaches to self-preservation, many people don’t have full organizations/funding behind them

Assessment of services and what they do to your data and metadata

Mostly services destroy metadata/RAW file formats

Dropbox is great! Simple to use, version control

A lot of services are built on top of other services (amazon backbones)

$600/yr for a terabyte of cloud storage- storage is getting cheaper & better

CoDA has many guides written by professionals for metadata or the public


Why digitize?

Documentation, representation

Sharing of research

Image databases having a way to retrieve data

Allow massive data collection

Share with the public, visual tours

Image processing/enhancement

Don’t make iPhoto the primary data capture tool, it changes compression and messes with metadata

Make sure your images pass the “hash check”

Holly’s slides/examples- preservation of physical objects

Digitization of tribal collections-permissions from community: preservation, accountability, access

How do tribes want to share their data? 3D scans? Sharing the right/correct amount of data for the tribe

Conservation photography: scientific imaging, non-destructive editing

.DNGs with .tiff extensions storing metadata

Zuni example, working with Library of Congress

All digitization projects need to have a plan!

How will you share it, what’s your file naming convention, what metadata standards will you use, etc


Who, What, When, Where, Why, How?

Low cost solutions for digital photography: Canon Rebel is only $600 @ Costco…

Inexpensive photographic control software

Documentation & Filenaming: change filename, won’t harm file, CoDA has a very simple and easy to apply file naming conventions

Every file in your system should have a Unique Identifier

IPTC Core is the image metadata standard, CoDA has applied it to all of our data

Problems with iOS apps in Apple Store; paid versus free applications

The “iPad Effect”: apps store data inside themselves; if you delete your apps you effectively delete your data. It’s a problem!

22% of apps are now dead/unsupported

1% of apps are now used actively

Want to create digital cuneiform: data and file must survive

Lots of social media services do terrible things to your metadata (ex: facebook, flickr), Dropbox is the best

Grey literature problem in archaeology: you produce a report for a company as a consultant, they lose the copies of the report and everyone loses


Digital Stewardship:

The DCC Curation lifecycle model

Using digital objects to create Complex Digital Objects with metadata

Databases Structured collections of records/data stored in a computer system


Lifecycle actions:

  • Description and representation information
  • Presentation Planning
  • Community watch and participation
  • Curate and preserve
  • Sequential Actions
  • Conceptualize
  • Create or receive
  • Appraise and select
  • Ingest
  • Access, use and reuse
  • Transform
  • Occasional Actions
  • Dispose
  • Reappraise
  • Migrate


Don’t let your data go stale!

Where in the Lifecycle is the quality assurance? Curation process is a never ending action, frequent validation checks

Use the community expertise to aid in validation and data correction

Is a RTI a Complex Digital Object? Yes, by definition

How long will new archival media last? Difficult to estimate (gold cds as example, trying to get data off of them is a nightmare!)



Digital publishing evolved: Codifi

Community content management: Mukurtu CMS

Mobile capture and sharing: Mukurtu Mobile

Digital memory preservation

  • Codifi

Conceptual way of organizing data, helps discover intrinsic relations between events, people, places, media

Codifi data model: 4 parts:

  1. Data

  2. Media

  3. Interface

  4. Sync


Meg Conkey’s Between the Caves project

Codifi is a collaborative workflow

Legacy data on zipdrives, access database in France, excel databases, etc

[Finds Inventory, Photos + keywords, Fieldnotes]  Sites data

Data cleansing and Processing done on Sites data, photo cds (and keywords), fieldnotes

Proprietary/stale file formats are evil, file formats vs commercial software

CoDA offers a Data Audition! A 10 hour block of our time for free

All our software will be freely available

Part II:

Jezreel Valley Regional Project (JVRP) Field Recording Database:

Running in FileMaker 12

CoDA is JVRP’s offsite back up

iPad photographs get you: orientation/direction, geolocation

Folder hierarchy in Dropbox

Advantages of using FileMaker/FileMaker Go (free, mobile)

Only have to buy one copy of FileMaker to do your development

FileMaker Server is also great, we have JVRP doing backups every minute


Data Separation Model:

Data Archipelago (on Mothership/Doctor Octopus)

All media is stored externally

Codifi Database (thin and lightweight on iPads)

Emphasis on remote redundancy and multiple backups in Dropbox

Bolt on construction

Only 5 required fields

Codifi standards document will be available on the web, all code is fully documented


JVRP iPad live demo:

Dashboard: for quick navigation between field forms

Locus Layout:

Customized error messages/guides for archaeologists

All records have unique id UUIDs in background

Sedimentology demo-creating story of data automatically while filling in form

Also allow user entry/user created fields

Recreate field forms as close as possible into database, can print paper forms directly from database

Total Stations/GPS integration, link .xml files from total station direct to database

Adding Media: auto generating and linking of media to contexts

Auto generating a full report of all the activity within the database

Unified Search, super-fast searchability

Report directly into the database the release notes

Currently iOS only, working on funding to get HTML5 versions


Publication Project

Last House on the Hill  (BACH area reports)

Fostering deeper conversations about material from the book/monograph

Database is a vertical copy of the book

Each PDF page is stored in database

Full color figures with captions

Exported field contents contain all metadata

Integrated search with deep semantic linkages

Text highlighting for searching

Database is still incredibly small, all content is served via server

Database framework will hopefully be publically released by the Fall


Mukurtu Cultural Management System (CMS)

A community-centered digital heritage management tool

Funded by Institute of Media and Library Sciences (IMLS)

Empowering communities to store and share their data for themselves

CoDA is focused on agile community development

Also focused on digital returns, linking physical objects to digital objects

Mukurtu CMS is a collaborative curatorial process

Top 3 Mukurtu Features:

Cultural Protocols

3 sharing protocols:




Traditional knowledge licenses (TK licenses and labels)


Rolling out, hosted solution

Mukurtu Mobile as well

Mukurtu is not a social network, it is a robust content management system that builds digital heritage items

Plays well with other web services

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