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ArchaeoFOSS2023

My impressions on the archaeofoss conference

A week ago I was able to participate in the ArchaeoFOSS conference (at its 17th edition), held in Turin. I was happy to finally join the conference, as I was aiming to do it since a couple of years. ArchaeoFOSS gathers people that share a lot of principles that are particularly dear to me (Open software, hardware, processes, data and formats in archaeological research), so I was really happy and lucky to attend it. Me and Alessio Palmisano organized a panel on Open Science, which I think went quite well with a lot of diverse and multidisciplinary talks. It was interesting to see different approaches and ways to achieve Open Science goals and tackle current issues in our discipline. I personally spoke about kart, a version control system for geospatial data (you can find the slides code on github and on zenodo, while interactive slides are available on my academic website), a project I really like and that I was happy to showcase to a broader audience.

The conference was a bit tight regarding time allocated for each speaker (which was around 10-13 minutes depending on how many panelists there were), but in general it was well-organized and well layed out. The keynote speakers were amazing, and it's unfortunate that some of them were speaking only in italian (although we were told this was done in order to involve local students and introduce them to Open Science practices, which is a commendable goal), and all the talks I attended were interesting. In fact, a good thing about these kinds of conferences is that even in showcasing a very specific case study, the Open Science methods behind it can be abstracted and conversations can always happen around them (and not only on the case-study itself).

I was also happy to meet some people I only knew from Mastodon, like Zach Batist, Joe Roe, and Stefano Costa, and, as I expected, I had very interesting talks with all of them. It was also nice to stay in Turin for longer and to go around the department and meet other colleagues, as for now I am still working from home in Rome. Also, brainstorming and testing ideas in person is definitely a different and more stimulating experience than meeting online once a couple of weeks. Zach and Joe also organized a panel about Archaeology and the Fediverse, presenting archaeo.social and discussing other related topics. One of the best panel out there, I was happy to see the community we are part of being presented at a conference, and I hope there will be other future occasions (with more people) to talk more about decentralized solutions for archaeology. Side note, I could listen to members of the Black Trowel Collective talk for an entire day.

In general, it was a refreshing experience, like Zach said, it was great to hang out and discuss with like-minded researchers. It also helped that the conference had a chill and casual vibe and that it was relatively small in the number of participants. I went to other conferences this year, and this was by far the most enjoyable.

Bonus point, while walking around in Turin, by chance (I'll admit I had no idea where I was going) we came to a square where someone was playing Baba Yetu (main menu theme song of Civilization IV) live, which was amazing.

So thanks for that too, ArcheoFOSS, and hope to be there for the next one too!

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