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12. Conclusions

At a recent US conference on heritage documentation a conversation was heard in the hall that basically went something like this "so they (a well-known data recording organisation) create a "cool" 3D data set and show it rotating on the web — so what?" The point is well taken. Simply recording heritage objects and sites clearly has some value in creating a digital record but beyond that, so what? It is the premise of this article that answering the 'so what' question involves not just recording but comes from both conceptualising and actually placing the digital heritage object within a complex digital ecosystem. The system includes recording but also involves all the systems and structures necessary for discovery, reuse, citation, rights management and permanent archive. Unfortunately, each part of this ecosystem is the provenance of a particular academic or professional domain—whether it is the surveying community, librarians, archaeologists, computer scientists or others. Just like a biological ecosystem must be studied in an interdisciplinary manner, so too must the digital ecosystem.

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