#CAAPerth Day Two – opening and first keynote

Day two at @CAAPerth started with an introduction to the conference by Gary Lock. He thanked in particular Arianna Traviglia who brought this week’s events to fruition. Thanks Arianna! Gary noted that c. 250 had made it to CAA this year – the 41st year CAA has run – with at least 100 from Australia, representing another increase in CAA#s audience. Gary also noted the Nick Ryan bursary which is for current students. It will be voted on electronically and announced a month after the conference. Next up was the VC of UWA Paul Johnson. He provided an excellent, informed introduction and noted that this was the first CAA in the southern hemisphere. He described new courses running in archaeology at UWA, and then went on to discuss the rock art heritage of Australia in general and Western Australia in particular e.g. Western Desert regions, the Pilbara and the Kimberly. There are papers discussing technological applications relating to the latter two at CAA this week. He concluded by emphasising the significance of inter- and multi-disciplinary research practice. He works between social science and history and sees this research at the boundaries as amongst the most exciting – where assumptions are continuously challenged by people from a new perspective but equal intellectual commitment.



Next up Professor Len Collardfrom UWA giving us all a Welcome to Country from the Noongar people. He noted that it was ironic that the welcome to country is in a foreign language and said that he also wanted to welcome us in the language of the conference. He then discussed the relationship between the people of this country and archaeological practice there. He discussed the relationship between the disciplines such as indigenous studies and archaeology getting closer together and the positive impact this is happening. He mentioned that people talk about rock art a lot and so he gave Gary Lock a piece of rock art as a welcome to the country. He finished by playing his didgeridoo. It was an amazing sound, made even more so by the intakes of breath that the microphone picked up throughout. Best opening to a CAA I can remember, in all respects.

Next up was Ian Johnson, president of CAA Australia. He emphasised Len Collard’s welcome given to the ‘family’ of CAA. He also announced the official launch of CAA Australia taking place this evening. He then introduced the first keynote.

The keynote featured @ekansa Eric Kansa talking about http://opencontext.org/ and scholar communication.

He describes himself as an alt-ac – alternative academic, and noted the breadth and depth of activities in broad scale, evolving academic practice. Change has come and it is rapid, moving form a 19th C publication paradigm and moving to a much more data intensive paradigm, that also better reflects our current values. He noted that the web was itself born from the needs of scholarly communication, and also the long history of such motivations.

Eric then discussed ORBIS, and its invisibility in terms of academic credit. What do we consider to be ‘important’ and credit worthy academic contributions. Cue slide showing Austin Powers. Ne noted encourgaement to publish in the journal of evil (or was that medieval?) studies by Dr Evil :-) Next up “My Precious Data” and a slide of Gollem from Lord of the Rings. Here Eric discussed pioneering work of ADS in terms of looking after research data in the long term. Next a segue from Lord of the Rings to Ian Hodder and reading the past – the emphasis on scholarship building on rereading. Conventional scholarship does not well support such rereading, and in particular the separation between the data and the synthesis. We need theoretical understanding of value of data to be much more embedded in archaeological training. Such sharing and publciaiton of data inevitably leads on to thoughts of intellectual property. Eric discussed NAGRPA and (missing acronym) project exploring intellectual property and indigenous people’s rights. Eric then discussed Elsevier and the sense in which large scale publishing centralises, and consolidates scholarly practice – including in archaeology. And then wikipedia going dark against SOPA. Here I was reminded of the amazing seminar by @generalising last week.

Eric noted that libraries are in a sense ‘renting’ scholarly knowledge as a consequence of centralised publication practice. Then he discussed Aaron Swartz and the JSTOR case, and pay walls in general. Reminded of ongoing twitter and blog discussions mediated by @TarenSK If you do not have a university affiliation what do you do? You borrow a friend’s login or are sent a paper by email. But these are impossible legally in many cases. They also stifle scholarship both within and beyond the academy. What are the equity, legal and preservation issues of commodification of the past? Universities largely cannot afford ot pay for scholarly communications under the current model – he supported this with reference to Berkeley demonstrations last year. Even Harvard university noted they could not afford escalating scholarly communications costs. On a positive note he stressed the growth of alternative modes of scholary communications. He also talked about the work of Bethany Nowviskie and alt-ac. He discussed open data as an example of part fo this alternative academic revolution.

Eric then mentioned the Finch report and also his paper in Mark Lake’s World Archaeology special addition on Open Access and Archaeology. (Note: interesting twitter discussion around the irony of this being in a closed journal – mentioned also by Eric in the keynote- during #caauk2012 hosted by @lparchaeology .) He also noted how the USA is also now committing to open access to publically funded research data, and projects supporting this. (Note: our own @JISCDataPool project at University of Southampton has some relevance to this). He concluded by showing examples from open context such as Kenan Tepe, work on data citation, and then a round up showing what is next. Work with the Encyclopedia of Life including data from Catalhoyuk from 34 zooarchaeologists. More work is needed in modellign research methods in ways that are better than spreadsheets, and ways that support synthetic data research. If we elevate data to a first class citizen it is motivation for better tools. Hence need for FAIMS and Heurist. A fabulous start to @CAA2013Perth #caaperth

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