University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

The great FREEZE out

October 28, 2010

On Friday the 29th of October starting at 6:00 PM,  the Penn Museum will officially be frozen out of our collections database ARGUS.  For two months we will be unable to update locations for objects or input new information about the collection.  This is because we are finally transitioning to our new database KE Emu! That name gets thrown around a lot at the museum in meetings and in hallways but it’s a bit of an unfortunate name.  Emu stands for “Electronic Museum” which makes  sense.   But what does KE stand for? Apparently nothing. It’s just KE.   I don’t get it. .  I guess the full name is KE Software so it could be short for KE Software but you would think they would have found a better name. Update: KE stands for “Knowledge Engineering”.  This was revealed the first day of official KE Emu training.   ARGUS was a giant with 100 eyes, KE Emu, is just an Emu.  Not exactly the best mascot for data retrieval and dissemination. (the calendar they put out every year is cool though, hopefully we can be a part of it soon)

This transition to the new database has been almost a decade in the making, from deciding to get a new database to customizing it to fit our data to actually “going live” .  We hope this will be an integral part to remaking the Penn Museum in the 21rst century.   With plans to put as much as we can online, we will be better able to serve the Penn Community as well as scholars from afar who can actually do searches on material they want to see before they set foot in the museum!  This is a boon for us Keepers.  We usually have a bit of an Abbott and Costello routine when it comes to this type of thing.

Reseacher:  What do you have?

Keeper:  What do you want?

Researcher:   I don’t know what I want because I need to know what you have!

Keeper:  I can’t tell you what we have unless you tell me what you want!!!!

Hopefully in the future the conversation will be more like this:

Researcher:  I want to see 28-34-154

Keeper: Okay

Oh that will be a glorious day indeed.  But the first step is to get KE Emu up and running and to get the staff trained on it so we can make better sense of our data.  For now, we wait.  Wait until ARGUS is a thing of the past, a slain 100 eyed monster and we can ride our Emu to freedom and into the 21rst century!

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