[Fwd: Re: Articolo su Archeologia e Open Source]

Stefano Costa steko@iosa.it
Thu Jun 1 16:52:22 CEST 2006

Il giorno gio, 01/06/2006 alle 15.22 +0200, M. Fioretti ha scritto:
> On Thu, Jun 01, 2006 15:00:53 PM +0200, Roberto Bagnara
> (bagnara@cs.unipr.it) wrote:
> > I think open data formats are really a major issue.  (Please note: I
> > have no background in archaeology, so what I say may be nonsense.)
> > Ideally, all the data originating from excavations and other
> > data-collection activities should be recorded and made available to
> > everyone.
> Note that things can be available without being open (in the "open
> source software" sense, at least). For example, a MS Office
> spreadsheet or text containing macros could be released in the public
> domain (available), but it could not be used without paying or
> illegally installing, a copy of Windows + office.
> So, which kind of "openness" are you referring to? What do you think
> is more important, or more urgent, for your job:
> 1) Data which one must pay to have or redistribute, but can be natively
>    used with Open Source Software (open format, closed copyright), or
> 2) Data which everybody can copy and share without restrictions, but
>    are usable only with one software program, maybe because patents or
>    licenses make writing clones illegal? This (closed format, open or
>    no copyright) is the opposite of case 1)
> 3) both of the above?

These are 2 well distinct problems. I personally care about both, but
from different points of view.

The first one is important from a technical point of view, if I value
the importance of keeping and preserving of data in the years and
decades, the freedom in choice of programs and operating systems. This
goes obviously beyond archaeology, it's common sense understanding that
this is a Good Thing (tm).
Furthermore it's quite difficult to imagine "open formats for
archaeology" except common used file formats: all kinds of media
documents and storage formats are not exclusive to archaeology, just
because in terms of information technology we don't (yet?) produce any
data of some new species that needs new formats to get stored on a
digital device. Today we can use ODF, PNG, SVG, Jabber IM, X3D, _W3C_
XML languages (XML by itself doesn't mean automagically "open format").
It's a good starting point and it should be pursued. Then when our
environment is "open" in this first sense we can go forward and see what
can be done specific for archaeology. Today I don't see a need for some

The second one is much more important from a scientific POV. Open access
to scientific and scholarly literature is one of the strongest
initiatives in the last years and is becoming more and more diffused
especially with the Science Commons initiative among genetists,
biologists, anthropologists. The "Archaeocommons" website sounds quite
useless to me since I found it out, and in that sense we should be able
to find legal tools to achieve this major objective. But this clashes
with bureaucracy too, at least in Italy.

These 2 aspects are at some point correlated each other, but IMHO they
should be treated separately in order to get good results. I support
both of them. One can like only one of the two, because they have
different reasons behind.

Hope that someone else can give us feedback.


Stefano Costa
http://www.iosa.it Software Open Source per l'Archeologia
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