Constructing New Research Archives

February 4, 2009

We are employing the OKAPI Theme Package for Omeka to develop two multimedia research archives over the Spring ’09 semester:

Tracing Tambo Colorado
We are helping UC Berkeley Architecture professor Jean-Pierre Protzen publish a decade of photographs, illustrations, site plans, and field notes documenting the design and construction of an Inca administrative center located in present-day Peru. The project will make use of the Omeka collection management system and our newly crafted OKAPI theme package. Lizzy, Huey and Gabriel will be organizing his research archive into four themed collections and implementing a Google maps mashup to assist with geospatial navigation.


Chang’an 26 BCE
We are working with UC Berkeley History professor Michael Nylan to develop a multimedia research archive focused on ancient Chang’an, capital of the Western Han dynasty from 206 BCE  until 8 CE. Roughly contemporary with ancient Rome and equivalent in size of territory and number of inhabitants, Chang’an typically receive little attention in Western schoolbooks and history classes. Professor Nylan aims to redress this imbalance by providing a wealth of information about one of the greatest cities in human history.


Ars Synthetica Demonstration

December 8, 2008

“On the Anthropology of the Contemporary”
Paul Rabinow, Professor of Anthropology, UC Berkeley
Wednesday December 10th
2:00 – 3:30pm, 221 Kroeber Hall
University of California, Berkeley 

This Wednesday, Paul Rabinow, Professor of Anthropology at UC Berkeley will demonstrate the Ars Synthetica Website as part of his Anthropology of the Contemporary lecture. 

Ars Synthetica is a web-based multimedia forum for engaging specialists and non-specialists in an informed, ethical, and democratic dialogue on the emerging field of synthetic biology as well as issues of new forms of design and construction more generally. Its goal is to provide multiple participatory channels for exploring questions about how cutting-edge research in the biosciences is organized, governed, funded, and expanded. Our goal is develop a pedagogical tool that provides a platform for teaching, research, and critical discussion. Leveraging existing open source platforms, which we will interface and modify, Ars Synthetica will facilitate engagement with such critical questions as: How will synthetic biology shape and be shaped by medicine, energy, and environmental needs? Whose business is ethics? What are the limits to what we can design?

Learn More About Ars Synthetica:

Working Prototype:

OKAPI Releases Theme for Museum Collection Software

November 4, 2008

omeka_theme_collectionsOpen Knowledge and the Public Interest (OKAPI) is pleased to announce the release of the Okapi theme package for Omeka, a web-based platform for publishing museum exhibits and collections developed by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. The Okapi theme package enables Omeka users without expert web design skills to create polished multimedia exhibits and collections. The home page features a cinematic 980×500 pixel main image and up to four featured exhibits.  Exhibit pages include new layouts for articles, themed collections and embedded multimedia.  The bundled Multimedia Links plugin enables embedding of html code, flash video (flv), and many other formats supported by the included JWplayer. The theme displays accessible Flash-based typography and is W3C CSS and XHTML compliant. The Okapi theme package (Okapi theme, Multimedia Links plugin and exhibit layouts) were developed by independent developer Kristin “Chach” Sikes in collaboration with Open Knowledge and the Public Interest. The Okapi theme package is available for download from the Omeka Website and is released under a General Public License (GPL).

The OKAPI theme package includes the following:

omeka_theme_homeOkapi Theme (Default Settings)
Home Page: Displays cinematic (980×500 pixel) main image, and up to four thumbnail images of featured resources Header/Navigation: Title and subtitle displayed at top of page using accessible rich typography. Semitransparent navigation tabs appear over adjustable header images on all pages. Up to four exhibits are featured on navigation. An “Exhibits” tab appears if your site includes more than four exhibits. Style Sheet: Extra style sheet (custom_style.css) enables sitewide modification of fonts and colors
Informational Pages: Themed  templates for About, Overview and Credits pages
Themed Geolocation plugins for Google Maps integration Themed Contribution plugin for user contributions Themed Items, Collections, and Exhibit pages (see Exhibit Layouts) Drag-n-Drop Media Publishing:  This theme extends Omekaʼs drag-n-drop functionality, allowing you to drag media from the archive into your exhibits layouts. Footer:  Space for links (Overview, Abouts, Credits), licensing (e.g., Creative Commons Licensing) and sponsors.

omeka_theme_multimediaExhibit Layouts
The Okapi Exhibit theme integrates exhibit pages with OKAPI theme and Multimedia Links plugin. The theme eliminates the section menu and allows users to publish on the Exhibit page thumbnails images and links to each section. The Okapi Exhibit theme includes four layouts:
Super Page: Allows users to theme exhibit home page and create thumbnail images for each section of exhibit.
Featured Article: Publish images and multimedia alongside feature article
Themed Collection: Publish video and a selection of up to 20 assets alongside article
Embedded HTML media:  Publish flash, widgets or other html embed code
Archive Multimedia:  Publish multimedia assets from archive using JWplayer.

Multimedia Links Plugin
Creates new Item fields for embedding html code, Flash video (flv), and many other media formats supported by the bundled JWplayer.

Media Player Integration
The open source JWplayer comes bundled with the OKAPI theme. The JWplayer supports playback of any format the Adobe Flash Player can handle (FLV, MP4, MP3, AAC, JPG, PNG and GIF). It also supports RTMP, HTTP and live streaming, various playlists and captioning formats, a wide range of settings and an extensive javascript
API. The skinning functionality allows you to completely customize its looks. Learn more here:

Rich Typography Support
The Okapi theme enables rich typography through accessible implementation of SIFR 3 (using Flash, JavaScript and CSS).  Learn more here:

Considerations for Web Developers
CSS: The markup and CSS for this theme are loosely based on Tripoli, a CSS method that allows you to adjust your site layout relatively quickly, in multiple browsers. This is similar to Google Blueprint and Yahoo Grids, but a little lighter weight. The Tripoli method does work with liquid layouts, though this site is currently fixed-width.

SIFR3: Typography can be changed by modifying flash files and a little bit of code, documentation included.

ShadedBorders: This Javascript corner-rounding script is enabled by default, and can be used on other page elements to create a different look for your site.

Okapi Island Spring 2008. Thoughts to start off with

February 15, 2008

What is our ultimate purpose?
Education (K-Grey)?
Sensual experience
Platform for showing remixes
Platform for communication?
Immersion in an archaeological site?
Immersion in the archaeological process?

To Plan
Events, talks, movie shows, audio shows – not just the big event.
Building and other Competitions
Regular tours (eg every Friday when we are “in residence”
This includes events in Second Life that are around real-world happenings and performances (eg Catal team symposium at Sociaety For American Archaeology in March)
It also includes real worl events where we can bring Second Life to the Real World (eg Cal Day)
We need to do more serious advertising of these events

Update signs, esp about join us on Okapi Day
Results of Okapi Day

Museum etc.
Have Okapi island harvest media from database rather than upload them

Embedding/Mash-up of Remixing Catalhoyuk data in Okapi Island

Prehistoric Houses:
Clues to what is down below
Build some furniture in one

Tidy up ie get rid of extraneous and irrelevant exercises
Commentary on the good one (revolving picture cube)

Graffiti Board
Change pictures?

BACH tent
Put active stuff on the floor that links to the pictures on the wall

New areas (invite Catal people from list)
Create 4040 area with new pics
Polish area
West Mound (SUNY Buffalo and Cambridge

Incorporate Steve Mills Catalhoyuk sounds

Add walks from BACH tent to South/Mellaart area

Some things for people to buy or win:
Avatar gestures such as
archaeological gestures (trowelling)
Turkish dancing
Keepsakes: images of artifacts, movies of digging
T-shirts for avatars

OKAPI Wins Open Archaeology Prize

December 11, 2007

Alexandria Archive Institute Press Release, November 30, 2007:

Scholars from UC Berkeley swept the Open Archaeology Prize competition, held at the 2007 meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR). One of a series of awards around “open archaeology” funded primarily by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, this particular Open Archaeology Prize targeted members of ASOR, a long-standing organization of archaeologists conducting research in the Near East. The winners, who were selected based on their project’s scholarly merit, potential for reuse in research or teaching and availability on the web in a free and reusable format, were announced last week at ASOR’s annual meeting in San Diego.

First Prize, Senior Scholar
First prize for a Senior Scholar was awarded to the team led by Ruth Tringham (Professor, Department of Anthropology) and Noah Wittman (Program Manager, Open Knowledge and the Public Interest) for their website “Remixing Çatalhöyük” ( Remixing Çatalhöyük has been variously described as a database narrative and as a multimedia exhibition and research archive. Launched in October 2007, it features the investigations and data of the Berkeley Archaeologists at Çatalhöyük (BACH) and their colleagues at the Neolithic tell settlement of Çatalhöyük, Turkey. The aim of the website, accessible in English or Turkish, is to engage the public of all ages in the exploration of primary research data through four themed collections that are selected from the research database. One theme on the Life-History of People, Places, and Things – also includes a K-12 activity module. The public are invited to download media items that are licensed with a Creative Commons 3.0 license, create original projects and contribute their own “remixes” about Çatalhöyük. Tringham and Wittman write that the developers of this resource “hope that this project will inspire other researchers to openly share their research data and engage broad public audiences.” Remixing Çatalhöyük represents a groundbreaking effort toward sharing and elucidating the past, and we certainly hope other projects will follow their lead.

First Prize, Junior Scholar
First prize for a Junior Scholar was awarded to Catherine Foster (PhD student, Department of Near Eastern Studies) for her project “Household Archaeology and the Uruk Phenomenon: A Case Study from Kenan Tepe, Turkey” ( Catherine is awarded first place for developing a website on her research involving household studies of a Late Chalcolithic community in the Upper Tigris region of southeast Anatolia. Foster explains that the ultimate goal of this project is to create an open access micro-artifact database that can be used as a reference resource for other scholars wishing to embark on this type of analysis. Because it will be open access, other scholars will be able to add to the database with high-resolution scans and descriptions or alter categories as developments are made. She states, “To my knowledge, no such database is freely available over the Internet and will be a valuable resource as the inclusion of microarchaeological techniques in Near Eastern excavation projects becomes more and more commonplace.” Foster’s project demonstrates a solid foundation in open access and a visionary approach for future sharing of research in archaeology.

Runner Up
A second prize of $200 in books, co-sponsored by the David Brown Book Company, was awarded to Justin Lev-Tov (Statistical Research, Inc.) for his project “Hazor: Zooarchaeology” ( This project presents zooarchaeological identification and analysis of nearly 10,000 animal bones from Late Bronze Age and Iron Age contexts at Hazor, research Justin conducted as part of the Hazor Excavations in memory of Yigael Yadin. By sharing this dataset in Open Context with a flexible license for reuse, Justin is improving access to high-quality research and original data that accompany published syntheses. This dataset has been accessed over 11,000 times since it was uploaded to Open Context in Fall 2006. We hope to see more related content from this time period available in open access formats so that Justin’s dataset becomes even more valuable through comparison with other sites.

The ASOR Open Archaeology Prize competition is sponsored by the Alexandria Archive Institute, promoting the development and use of open educational resources in archaeology and related disciplines. The competition aims to enhance community recognition of open scholarly communication and receives generous support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the David Brown Book Company and the American Schools of Oriental Research.

Remixing Catalhoyuk Day

November 6, 2007

Remixing Catalhoyuk Day (watch the movie of the event)
9AM to 6PM Pacific Standard Time (5PM to 2AM GMT or Universal Time)
November 28, 2007
Location: Okapi Island
(You must have the free Second Life browser)

Join us for Remixing Catalhoyuk Day, a public program sponsored by OKAPI and the Berkeley Archaeologists at Catalhoyuk. Visit OKAPI Island in the 3-D virtual environment of Second Life (see Getting Started below) and explore the past and present of Catalhoyuk, a 9000-year-old village located in present-day Turkey. OKAPI Island features virtual reconstructions of the excavation site and multimedia exhibits of research data. The Island was constructed by a team of undegraduate research apprentices during the Spring and Fall 2007 semester. The Remixing Catalhoyuk program includes lectures, guided tours, games, and much more. Mark your calendars!

Okapi Island

Remixing Çatalhöyük Day Activities

(10-10:30 AM)
Guided Tour of OKAPI Island. Tours will be conducted by Ruth Tringham (Professor of Anthropology, UC Berkeley, and Principal Investigator of Berkeley Archaeologists at Çatalhöyük) and the Remixing Çatalhöyük team.

(1 – 2 PM PST)
Lecture: “Cultural Heritage Interpretive Videowalks: Moving Through Present Past Places Physically and Virtually” Presented by Ruth Tringham to the UC Berkeley Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning Colloquium and simulcast in Second Life.

(2 – 4 PM PST)
Turkish Music Mix. Visit OKAPI Island, learn about Çatalhöyük and build your own remixes in the OKAPI Island Sandbox while listening to DJ (and UCB Anthro grad) Burcu’s eclectic mix of classical and contemporary Turkish music.

(3-3:30 PM PST)
Guided Tour of OKAPI Island. Tours will be conducted by Ruth Tringham (Professor of Anthropology, UC Berkeley, and Principal Investigator of Berkeley Archaeologists at Çatalhöyük) and the Remixing Çatalhöyük team.

(4-5 PM PST)
Remixing Çatalhöyük Video Festival. Nine video producers will share videos about Çatalhöyük. The Video Festival will be hosted by VJ (and UCB Anthro grad) Colleen Morgan.

(5 – 5:30 PM PST)
Remix Competition. The public is invited to use the OKAPI Island Sandbox or Graffiti Cube to build and share reconstructions of Catalhoyuk or “remixes” of archaeological research data. At 5pm PST, the Berkeley Archaeologists at Catalhoyuk team will review and select top entries for virtual awards and exhibition on OKAPI Island.

Remixing Catalhoyuk Data

What is Second Life?

Second Life is a 3-D virtual world created entirely by its residents. Okapi Island is owned and build by the OKAPI team (that’s us below!) and the Berkeley Archaeologists at Catalhoyuk.

Getting Started
To visit Okapi Island, you will need to create a user account and download the client software–both free.

To create an account, visit, click on Join (in the upper right corner) and follow the instructions. Note: You do not need a premium account to use Second Life or visit Okapi Island.

Next, download and install the Second Life client for your computer:

Launch the Second Life client and enter your password. You will likely begin in Orientation Island. To visit Okapi Island, click Map, enter “Okapi” in search field and click Search. Alternatively, you can click on the following slurl (second life url) in your browser, and you will be transported there:

See you there!Okapi Second Life Team

Remixing Çatalhöyük Launches

October 5, 2007

Remixing Çatalhöyük

The OKAPI team is pleased to announce the launch of Remixing Çatalhöyük, a multimedia exhibition and research archive featuring the investigations and discoveries of the Berkeley Archaeologists at Çatalhöyük and their colleagues. Located in central Turkey, Çatalhöyük (“cha-tal-hu-yuk”) is the site of a Neolithic farming community that flourished from 9,400 until 7,700 years ago. We invite the public to explore themed collections, create original projects, and contribute their own “remixes” of Çatalhöyük.

Remixing Çatalhöyük was constructed during the Spring 2007 semester by a team of UC Berkeley students, staff, and faculty, working in close collaboration with the Berkeley Archaeologists at Çatalhöyük (BACH). Remixing Çatalhöyük highlights and supports a multi-vocal approach to history, where the global, online community is invited to participate in the dialogue alongside the physical, local community. The OKAPI and BACH teams hope that this project will inspire other researchers to openly share their research data and engage broad public audiences.

Web Site Design
Remixing Çatalhöyük features a tripartite design, including a research archive, themed collections and an interactive web exhibition.

Research ArchiveThe Research Archive includes more than 65,000 photos, videos, articles and other multimedia research materials–all freely available under Creative Commons NonCommercial Attribution licensing.

Life Histories Themed CollectionThe Remixing team curated and adapted research materials into four Themed Collections designed to engage public in the process of archaeology and support a wide range of “k to grey” teaching and learning scenarios:
Life Histories of People, Places and Things
Senses of Place
Archaeology at Different Scales
The Public Face of Archaeology
The themed collections feature intro articles, intro videos, K-12 activities, and 200 carefully selected and annotated multimedia resources from the research archive.

Site PlanThe Web Exhibition was designed to spark interest and provide context for numerous research materials. The interactive Site Plan (at right) allows users to zoom in and roll-over excavation site features. The Timeline (at right), Map and People gallery orient visitoTimeliners and highlight the project’s multi-vocal, multi-scalar approach to archaeology.

K-12 ActivityK-12 Activity
In this unique activity co-developed by a team of archaeologists, teachers, and curriculum developers, students use archaeological evidence and their own imaginations to reconstruct life in a Neolithic household, more than 9,000 years ago. The activity is designed for middle school students and can easily be adapted for other ages. This activity complies with Section 6.1 of the California History-Social Science Content Standards for sixth grade students, which requires that “Students describe what is known through archaeological studies of the early physical and cultural development of humankind from the Paleolithic era to the agricultural revolution.”

Ruth's RemixOn Remixing
Remixing Çatalhöyük is designed to advance the discovery of new ideas by facilitating the reuse of resources and ideas developed by the Berkeley Archaeologists at Çatalhöyük. The site features student projects, faculty presentations, multimedia websites, and other “remixes” of Çatalhöyük research data. We hope these examples inspire others to remix and reuse research data from this and other projects.


Visitors are encouraged to download, remix materials, and share their remixes using Archaeoblender. Archaeoblender was developed by the OKAPI team using ccHost, an open-source application developed by the Creative Commons for sharing and remixing multimedia content.

Second LifeOKAPI Island
Virtual Residents of Second Life –a multi-user online environment—can visit Okapi Island to explore 3D representations of Catalhoyuk as it exists today and as it may have looked in the past. During the Fall 2007 semester, a dozen students, faculty and staff will be completing construction of Okapi Island and preparing for a public program.

Okapi Island, location of Çatalhöyük in Second Life. Come Visit!

Okapi Island Project Wiki (Join Us!)

We provided a text version of the site to improve accessibility for users with low speed connections, screen readers, iPhones or other special needs.

The entire site (with the exception of the research database) was translated into Turkish by UC Berkeley Anthropology graduate student Burcu Tung and proofed by Stanford Anthropology graduate student Elif Babul. Tesekkür.

To maximize visibility and reuse, we have (or will soon) republished materials from Remixing Catalhoyuk in multiple locations, including Flickr, YouTube, Apple Learning Interchange, Connexions, Internet Archive, Wikiversity, WikiEducator, and CyArk. A future report will document the quantity and nature of traffic we receive from each site.

On Building Themed Collections
The design of our themed collections was greatly influenced by the process, products and findings of the Calisphere Themed Collections project as documented in “Handful of Things” article by Mankita et al in May 2006 issue of D-Lib Magazine.

Tips, Tools, and Templates
We paid special attention to documenting our process so that others could reuse our tools and techniques. This information is available in the Tips, Tools, and Templates section of the site.

Project Sponsors:
Paul Grey, Principal Investigator, Scholar’s Box; Professor of Engineering, UC Berkeley
David Greenbaum, Project Director, Scholar’s Box; Director of Data Services, UC BerkeleyRuth Tringham, Principal Investigator, Berkeley Archaeologists at Catalhoyuk
Michael Ashley, Manager, New Programs, Office of the CIO, UC Berkeley

“Remixing” Team:
Noah Wittman, Project Director, Remixing Çatalhöyük
Ruth Tringham, Content Direction, Pilot Instructor; Professor of Anthropology, UC Berkeley; Principal Investigator, Berkeley Archaeologists at Çatalhöyük (BACH) Project
Burcu Tung, Content Developer and Turkish Translations, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Anthropology, UC Berkeley
Elizabeth Ha, Media Manager, Video Production
Adrian Van Allen, Web & Interaction Designer
Ruth Tepper Brown, EditorOna Johnson, Curriculum Developer
Denise Phelps, Digital Media Specialist
Michael Ashley, Information Architect
Marc Moglen, Second Life Audio Producer
Daniel Wei, Second Life Scripting and Modeling
Elif Babul, Turkish Proofing
Joseph Coburn, Interactive Designer, Demonstration Tool
Rockman et al, Evaluators

Special thanks to the Berkeley Archaeologists at Çatalhöyük and colleagues for sharing their content and expertise.

This project was made possible with funding from the US Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE Grant #P116B040739). Additional support was provided by the Gilbert Fund, UC Berkeley’s Office of the CIO, Open Knowledge and the Public Interest, Multimedia Authoring Center for Teaching Anthropology, and the Archaeological Research Facility.