Free the trees

less than 1 minute read

Further drawbacks of databases in anthropology, after my post mentioning the issues. I’ll point to Martin Rundkvist’s discussion of “Open Source Dendrochronology”:

Dendrochronology has a serious organisational problem that impedes its development as a scientific discipline and tends to compromise its results. This is the problem of proprietary data. When a person or organisation has made a reference curve, then in many cases they will not publish it. They will keep it as an in-house trade secret and offer their paid services as dendrochronologists. This means that dendrochronology becomes a black box into which customers stick samples, and out of which dates come, but only the owner of the black box can evaluate the process going on inside. This is of course a deeply unscientific state of things. And regardless of the scientific issue, I am one of those who feel that if dendro reference curves are produced with public funding, then they should be published on-line as a public resource.

He details work being done by a dedicated crew of amateurs, to replicate and sometimes expose errors in published chronologies, just by using open source principles.