Articles in Vol. XXVI, No. 3
The Levantine Ceramics Project
Archäologische Informationen in Open Access: A model case for changes in academic publishing
Website Review: Israel Antiquities Authority: Archaeological Survey of Israel
Technophobia and Technophilia
Miscellaneous News Items
To comment on an article, please email
Index of Web site and CD reviews from the Newsletter.
Limited subject index for Newsletter articles.
Direct links for articles concerning:
Search all newsletter articles.
Miscellaneous News Items
Computing in the Cloud
By now anyone who is a serious user of computer technology has been using "the cloud," whether intentionally or not. Some of us store documents on servers maintained by Amazon or one of the other suppliers of data space out in the ether. Others use servers such as Dropbox in order to access the same files from multiple places and multiple computers. The newest use of the cloud, though, is quite different. It is the use of computers in cyberspace to do actual computing, not just file storage, for us users. Thus, for example, Adobe no longer sells its flagship products such as PhotoShop but instead sells the right to use those programs while the programs remain in the cloud, that is, on some server in Adobe's world. (The foregoing may not fully reflect the conditions of Adobe's new system. For more information, see www.adobe.com/products/creativecloud.html?promoid=KAUBZ.) The user may or may not be able to access the software without an internet connection, depending upon each individual software provider's program and the specific implementation, but, at the best, the user often has only a term-limited license, not a program on his/her own computer.
The move to internet-based computing could probably have been predicted some time ago (and may have been by those in the business of standing back and watching digital developments), but it carries some dangers for those who use computer technologies to create data sources that must be preserved for long periods of time and well into the future. Such users must be careful to use cloud computers wisely, making certain that the resulting data — in whatever form — will be able to stand the test of time and be accessed by other scholars well into the future and, preferably, without software for which those future scholars must pay annual fees.
At the present, this change to cloud computing, as opposed to cloud data storage, may not seem to present a problem that is unique to cloud-based software. History suggests, however, that users should beware. In the main, changes of this magnitude have not benefitted users, though they have benefitted the makers of software or hardware. A watchful eye is to be recommended. As always, access to data in the future is a critical matter for archaeologists; archival organizations will probably end up bearing the real responsibility in this area. Individual scholars, though, should consult with archivists about such concerns.
The CSA Propylaea Project: Data Now Available at the Archaeology Data Service
The material from the CSA Propylaea Project has been archived at the Archaeology Data Service in England. The process was discussed in the last issue of the Newsletter and need not be rehashed here. Readers should know, however, that the project website no longer maintains the data files in ways designed to permit access. Instead, users should visit the ADS page for the project at dx.doi.org/10.5284/1022574 .
Readers may note that the URL shown here is not a standard one. It is what is called a DOI or Digital Object Identifier, and it is meant to be permanent, no matter what may happen on the internet. The DOI is stored at an official website of "the International DOI Foundation (IDF), which provides information on the DOI (Digital Object Identifier) system and its activities." (See doi.org, last accessed 22 January 2014.) This organization retains the permanent identifier along with the actual location of the resource, even should that location change. Seeking any object via its DOI results in a user being redirected to the current location of the resource, and the holder of the resource (in this case the Archaeology Data Service) can change that actual URL as necessary.
JAVA as a Security Problem
Many computer users run JAVA applications, often unwittingly, because so many web sites use JAVA as the language of choice for sophisticated operations. According to Roger Grimes, however, it is time to heed the warnings that were so common over the last year or so. Grimes, writing in InfoWorld in January cited this statistic from a CISCO report: "91 percent of all successful Web exploits involve Oracle Java JRE." (See at www.infoworld.com/d/security/patching-has-failed-so-its-time-java-go-234709?source=IFWNLE_nlt_blogs_2014-01-22 for the article entitled, "Patching has failed, so it's time for Java to go." (last accessed 22 January 2014).
This is hardly a major problem for scholars, but it does suggest that scholars who are trying to build unusually complex or sophisticated websites should avoid JAVA.
Outstanding Work in Digital Archaeology Award from the Archaeological Institute of America
At its annual meeting in Chicago the Archaeological Institute of America presented its first award for Outstanding Work in Digital Archaeology to Elizabeth Fentress for her work to create Fasti Online. For the full text of the award, see aia.archaeological.org/webinfo.php?page=10177#awards.
All articles in the CSA Newsletter are reviewed by the staff. All are published with no intention of future change(s) and are maintained at the CSA website. Changes (other than corrections of typos or similar errors) will rarely be made after publication. If any such change is made, it will be made so as to permit both the original text and the change to be determined.
Comments concerning articles are welcome, and comments, questions, concerns, and author responses will be published in separate commentary pages, as noted on the Newsletter home page.