This is the beginning of what could be a much more direct online update of the national record by those who are responsible for fieldwork or other 'events' relating to sites. This is vital for three reasons. Firstly, those involved in creating archives and supplying information should feel more involved in the process of archive deposit and online dissemination of their information. Secondly, it would relieve the data handling pressure on the national records thus making information available more quickly. Thirdly, it would serve to de-centralise the record.
Increasingly we should be aiming for a national record of high-level data that is less clearly identified with a central organisation, and is freed up from 'ownership' issues, but pointing to more detailed resources managed by active recording and archive bodies. This would be a new level of information, similar to the model being proposed for ASP and linked into the resources that are presently held and managed by various bodies such as the NMRS, the ADS catalogue, the SCRAN database, SMRs (along the lines of the system being developed in Wales), museums etc. In the first instance it is likely that this would be maintained by the NMRs but need not be exclusive to them.
To extend this idea further, as an experiment, online update from members of the public is being incorporated into the ASP project giving users the opportunity to engage actively with the national record. It is hoped that this will stimulate a range of contributions, perhaps an account of a visit to a site, a photograph or drawing, poetry, inspirations and thoughts, legends or reminiscences.
The concepts for the future of all the NMRs are to provide more facilities on line with greater data integration both internally and externally and a data quality that can be used universally with little or no mediation. The inhibiting factors are inevitably resources, limiting data capture and enhancement. Archives are, however, in the enviable position of being able to take long-term views and to embark on projects that will come to true fruition in many years time. It is remarkable how far the NMRs have progressed as a result of information technology, and even ten years ago it was not possible to foresee the significant change of focus that has taken place. The skill is to be able to see far enough ahead to put the seeds in place that will deliver the harvest.
© Internet Archaeology
Last updated: Fri Jan 30 2004