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Editorial

Alan Vince

Cite this as: Vince, A. (1998). Editorial. Internet Archaeology, (4). Council for British Archaeology. doi:10.11141/ia.4.8

Issue Four of Internet Archaeology is now complete, and with it we end the first phase of the Internet Archaeology project, as funded by eLib. Fortunately, I am pleased to say that eLib was sufficiently impressed with our first three years that they have agreed to fund us for a further three years. At the end of this period, however, the journal must be self-supporting and this means, unfortunately, that we must now make serious plans for how to charge for access. In its short existence, so far, the World Wide Web has adopted the attitude that if it's on the Web it should be free. Indeed, I have heard of some grant giving bodies stipulating that their publication grants for electronic resources are dependent on free access. This would be fine if subventions could cover all web publication costs but would mean that one of the principles of academic publication would have finally have been lost. At present academic journals, both electronic and paper, accept papers solely on their intrinsic worth regardless of whether or not the author can find sponsorship to cover the cost of publication. Admittedly, large, unfunded papers may take longer to get published. So, if we cannot rely totally on subventions and sponsorship then that inevitably means that you, the readers, have to pay. For details, subscribe to our maillist where any announcements will be made.

Let me move on to a more palatable subject, the contents of this issue of Internet Archaeology. As usual, we have published a small number of papers, each of which gave us a chance to explore a new aspect of electronic publication. Innovative features in Issue Four are less obvious to the casual reader than in previous issues, but there's a lot happening behind the scenes. Before moving on to look at these features I would like to bid a fond farewell to our first Assistant Editor, Sandra Garside-Neville, and welcome her replacement, Judith Winters. The Assistant Editor shoulders the majority of the burden (if such an enjoyable task could ever be said to be a burden) of producing the journal and the authors of papers in Issue Four have reason to be grateful for their hard work. On their behalf, and yours, I'd like to thank them both publicly.

1. Dual Language Publication

Issue Four marks our first foray into dual language publication. In many ways, this is a natural progression from Issue Three, which included a paper in French. Here, however, we have the same paper published both in French and English, The Gallo-Roman cremation cemeteries of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg - initial findings of current research . Michel Polfer and Jos Thiel have had to work twice as hard for us, producing two parallel texts and answering referee's queries for both papers. However, there are several  advantages to dual language publication. Firstly, we are working towards the true internationalisation of the Web. It was worth publishing the paper twice so as to give both French and English speakers a chance to read it. Secondly, hopefully the subtle changes in meaning and emphasis that creep into a paper written in someone's second language can be avoided here. A bilingual reader, uncertain of the meaning of a paragraph in one language is able to check the author's words in the second language. Thirdly, and for us this is the most exciting part of the Web, the same illustrations and database can be viewed with English or French commentary.

2. Behind the Scenes i. A new webserver.

The first three issues of Internet Archaeology were published on the Web using the WN webserver. In April 1998 we replaced WN by Apache. I am pleased to say that the transfer was fairly painless and would like to thank Paul Tyers and Paul Miller for their work here. Seasoned users whose brains run faster than their keyboards will have noticed different error messages when they type the wrong URL but for the majority the change would not have been noticed. The ease with which a fundamental part of the publishing software could be upgraded gives us some pleasure, since one of the queries often raised about Web publication concerns the ability to migrate web documents from one server to the next (and so on).

3. Behind the Scenes ii. A new computer.

Not only do we have new software but Internet Archaeology comes to you from an entirely new computer system, for which we have to thank our sister body, the Archaeology Data Service (ADS). Initially, we used a pair of Silicon Graphics workstations to prepare and serve the journal. However, ADS has been given the funding to publish the library catalogue of the Society of Antiquaries of London, and the software application which accesses  this catalogue was written for Sun workstations. So, once again, we have undertaken a major overhaul of the system but with little evidence for this to the outside user.

4. Behind the Scenes iii. Javascript and Frames.

The third change is one that the inquisitive, Web-aware reader may well have already spotted. We have included papers in Issue Four which use Javascript and Frames. Both of these "innovations" were introduced some time ago by commercial browsers but have not been given the status of standards by WC3.  However, since both the major browsers, Netscape and Internet Explorer, now support both features we have decided to accept them in Internet Archaeology, in cases where their use can be justified. Potential authors please note: Javascript has been developed semi-independently by Netscape and Microsoft and not all commands work for both browsers. Milco Wansleeben and Leo Verhart in their paper on Graphical analysis of regional archaeological data: The use of site typology to explore the Dutch Neolithization process have produced a visually pleasing application which enables the user to compare a number of Neolithic artefact assemblages using a variety of methods (see their interactive version of Figure 10 in Chapter 5).

Frames have definitely not been welcomed wholeheartedly into the Web community, and with some reason. However, there are cases where their use can be justified, and we think we have some in Issue Four. Rather than point out exactly where we use frames, I would like to use this opportunity to get some feedback. In at least two places in Issue Four we make use of Frames. If you can find either, please let our mail list, intarch-interest, know what you think.

5. Review section

Finally, can I repeat the request from Issue Three for more electronic publications and software to review? Gary Lock, our Reviews Editor, is doing a great job for the journal but surely there are more CDs and software designed specifically for archaeologists being produced? If you have just produced an archaeological  multimedia extravaganza or the piece of software that every archaeologist has been waiting for then please drop Gary a line (email: glock@ox.ac.uk). Remember, the journal has a large readership. Over 5000 readers have looked at the journal since we moved to our new server in April and they come from all over the world (for the details, you can view our access statistics online). 


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Last updated: Mon Jul 13 1998