Some (random) thoughts after the workshop

After the 2nd edition of the Italian Workshop "Open Source, Free Software e Open Format nei processi di ricerca archeologica" [1], which was held in Genova on May 11th, 2007, I'd like to point out some key ideas that emerged mostly during the final discussion.

The workshop was not an outstanding success as the first one, but all the talks presented were very interesting and showed a number of advances since last year. We can really say that all these projects did take one step further, as it was asked they should do in Grosseto.

I was glad we had invited to speak Andrea Glorioso from Politecnico di Torino. His talk about Creative Commons, Science Commons and copyright/diritto d'autore was illuminating in many parts and his contribution to the final discussion has been substantial.

The presence of Walter Kuntner and Sandra Heinsch from the University of Innsbruck was absolutely great and their support for free software as part of an open knowledge project is really something other universities should try to emulate.

I'm not going to comment on all talks, even if they would deserve it. At the end of the day, I tried to summarise in 4 points the desirable roadmap until next year:

  1. Create networks, working side by side whenever we have an opportunity to do so. We have wikis, blogs, websites to share our experience, but physical meetings can play a major role in enhancing our “koiné”. Let’s try to have more “hands-on” workshops, on the BarCamp model, where talks are just the start and not the objective.
  2. Whenever we are teaching, let’s try to introduce students into this network. Knowing each other is the best opportunity for cross-fertilization and augmenting of knowledge. In this sense, Benjamin Ducke’s initiative to collect information about courses in quantitative archaeology & co is one of the first efforts we should contribute to.
  3. Many of us are writing code. Let’s share it! We have a simple way to do so, the GPL license, and I’m not going to repeat here the importance of this best practice that prevents useless work.
  4. Sharing our data is a request that many of us are asking since last year. The situation here is not as clear as for software, and “licenses” for archaeological data can be different from country to country, as much as the actual amount of shared data. There are many hypotetical benefits of a widely spread sharing practice, even though I would exclude from the list the requests for transparency and objectivity of archaeological documentation (mostly from excavations) that are usually used as arguments for data sharing. I think we should look at monumental existing frameworks, such as the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, to really get the picture of what can be achieved when all existing data are out and available.