5.3 Intelligent design

It has been our intention in this article to make the technology used to present our data and interpretations all but invisible. Technology is like page design: at its best, it is invisible to the reader (Derricourt 1996, 123). If you were so entranced or frustrated by the operation of maps, links, data or commentary that you did not notice the archaeology, then we have failed...

That is why we have limited ourselves to as small a colour palette as possible in our maps and links, and maintained uniformity in our application of those colours throughout the article. The ability to use many more maps than would be possible in print has allowed us to use single issue maps that only attempt to display one or two categories of data, but to do it clearly. Similarly, the highlighted links and expandable sections in the commentary are intended to avoid breaking the flow of the text and to distract the reader from the archaeology as little as possible.

Even though few archaeologists are trained designers, they are the ones doing the communication. This means that they might be expected to have an intelligent, thoughtful input into how their data and arguments are presented. Responsibility for design needs to be shared between the technical experts and the academic specialists, regardless of project size or budget (cf. Derricourt 1996, 120).

Ultimately this is an experiment for both reader and author. Perhaps this is too radical an approach. Perhaps most readers do not want this sort of non-linear presentation and interactive mapping, and would rather print out a PDF. Perhaps this approach is more appropriate as a tool for student learning than as a means for communicating the interpretation of survey data. That is for you to say. For us as authors, perhaps the most exciting aspect is that it presents and interprets our entire suite of fieldwork data, and invites further interpretations from whoever chooses to read the article and accept the challenge.


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Last updated: Thur July 5 2007