6 Traditional Monograph versus Digital Publication

As suggested by William Kilbride at the CAA 2003 conference in Vienna, the value of archaeological archives lies in their use not in their simple existence (conference paper and Kenny and Kilbride 2004). Therefore to justify the preservation and presentation of archaeological archives, thought should be given to their expected use.

It can be suggested that blurring the division between the archive and the publication outlines a particular expected use. Different users have specific requirements and expectations from data presented to them. Tailor-made presentations for users is a possibility, but the work taken to achieve this through multiple interfaces to the same data is time consuming. Susan C. Jones has commented on the variety of approaches that can be taken to presenting archives on line (Jones 2004). She identified two basic approaches, one by which the user submits a query online and the other by which the user must download and work with the raw data themselves.

There are things that can be done during the preparation of an online archive to be presented to aid the correct delivery of the archive. These preparations are essentially creating access and preservation-ready archives through good data management. In this preparation activity the ARENA project has allowed the Institute of Archaeology (FSI) in Iceland to develop its own regimes of archiving so that the archaeological data that is collected in the field are consistent and systematic in form. The FSI now employs policies for preservation that feed directly into its excavation practice. This is particularly true for the post-excavation process and in actual data collection, without being overly hi-tech (the downfall of many paperless excavations).

The role of policies for preservation cannot distract from the normal practice of archaeology, particularly in the field; to do so only creates further work. Most importantly, ensuring good data management means that the next generation of archaeologists will have broad access to a range of archaeological information about Iceland and the data itself will be stable and accessed efficiently. This is important not only in preserving data in the long term but also for wider dissemination, in particular for Iceland's next generation of archaeologists who are now being taught archaeology at undergraduate level for the first time (since 2002). Moving beyond the monograph and into digital publication therefore has many advantages, many of which complement traditional forms of dissemination.


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