Tackling the Big Challenges of Big Data: An Example from the U.S. Southwest

Author(s): Matt Peeples; Barbara Mills; Jeffery Clark

Year: 2017


We see archaeology in the twenty-first century as an increasingly cumulative enterprise. The sheer volume of data produced in recent years has both facilitated and necessitated new approaches to synthesis that involve the compilation of massive databases and the development of new platforms for archiving and accessing data. ‘Big data’ compilations are poised to be the backbone of many new advances but with ‘big data’ come big challenges. In this presentation, we summarize several daunting issues we have faced while compiling and analyzing the Southwest Social Networks Project database; a collaborative effort that utilizes methods and models from network science to explore regional patterns of interaction and social change across the U.S. Southwest. Major issues have included assessments of data quality at various scales, the compilation of data from diverse sources, and the development of methods for sensitivity analysis to ensure that analytical results are robust to the many potential sources of error. While we are optimistic about the opportunities offered by this and similar data compilation efforts, we argue that archaeologists need to invest substantial effort in ensuring that the popularity of big data research does not outpace the development heuristic approaches for dealing with such data.

Cite this Record

Tackling the Big Challenges of Big Data: An Example from the U.S. Southwest. Matt Peeples, Barbara Mills, Jeffery Clark. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429457)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14533