9.0 Drawing together the paths: networks, continuity and availability.

The ARENA project has met its project targets; it has created an infrastructure for sharing archaeological data in Europe. This infrastructure is open to European peoples to use and also to organisations to contribute their own data. The project has also highlighted to the archaeological and heritage management community in Europe that digital data is not as safe and timeless as many would like to think it is.

The different aspects of the project, and the issues addressed, have each been reflected in the articles contained in this issue of Internet Archaeology. The pathways represented are each different aspects of the interconnecting network required to facilitate an interoperable infrastructure for information sharing. Some, if not many, of these pathways need far more work than one project can sustain. But ways forward can be seen – indeed the set of articles drawn together here in Internet Archaeology present many reasons to be optimistic, if they can be taken forward.

The network brought together in the ARENA project could be one of its lasting legacies. It is reflected in the physical presence of a working portal and a set of online resources. Although such networks can achieve much, ultimately they are always reduced to infrequent meetings of like-minded persons because there is no clear route to turn projects into services on the European scale. It is this continuity that will make the investments made by the European Union pay off, in terms of real trans-national co-operation rather than fleeting attempts to foster a sense of common European identity through socially constructed origin myths.


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