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Design Challenges and Opportunities of Fossil Preparation Tools and Methods

  • Fossil preparation is the activity of processing paleontological specimens for research and exhibition purposes. In addition to traditional mechanical extraction of fossils, preparation presently comprises non-destructive digital methods that are part of a relatively new field, namely virtual paleontology. Despite significant technological advances, both traditional and digital preparation remain cumbersome and time-consuming endeavors. However, this field has received scarce attention from a human-computer interaction perspective. The present study aims to elucidate the state-of-the-art for paleontological fossil preparation in order to determine its main challenges and start a conversation regarding opportunities for creating novel designs that tackle the field's current issues. We conducted a qualitative study involving both technical preparators and virtual paleontologists. The study was divided into two parts: First, we assembled technical preparators and paleontology researchers in a focus group session to discuss their workflows, obtain a preliminary understanding of their issues, and ideate solutions based on their counterparts' workflows. Next, we conducted a series of contextual inquiries involving direct observation and semi-structured in-depth interviews. We transcribed our recordings and examined the data through theoretical and inductive thematic analysis, clustering emerging themes and applying concepts from human-computer interaction and related fields. Our findings report on challenges faced by traditional and digital fossil preparators and potential opportunities to improve their tools and workflows. We contribute with a novel analysis of fossil preparation from an HCI perspective.

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Author:Lucas Siqueira RodriguesORCiD, John Nyakatura, Stefan Zachow, Johann Habakuk Israel
Document Type:In Proceedings
Parent Title (English):Proceedings of the 20th International Conference on Culture and Computer Science: Code and Materiality
Publisher:Association for Computing Machinery
Place of publication:New York, NY, USA
Date of first Publication:2023/12/06
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