Issue 23, Editorial

Judith Winters *

Cite this as: Winters, J. 2008 Editorial, Internet Archaeology 23.

I do enjoy my job and I get quite a feeling of elation when an issue has closed. Apart from my long-suffering husband, only the authors are probably aware of the amount of work that is put in between the article proposal first appearing in my inbox and final publication. Multiply that by 5 or 6 per issue, and you get a sense of the buzz that I get when it's all over.

It's short-lived though. Not just because I then have to take a step back, take a long view of things and write an editorial, but also because I have to move on to all those other articles waiting in the wings for the next issue.

But with the official close of this issue, my little happy bubble burst a little quicker than usual when I came across a really interesting blog on scholarly communication in the humanities and social sciences by Charles Watkinson. His style and subject matter engaged me and of course, I delved deeper, until one particular posting from March this year caught my eye. It was called The "drill-down" dilemma: why can't we link archaeological publication to the underlying data?. After reading, I thought to myself "But Internet Archaeology does this! In fact, has been doing this for rather a long time. And to some degree of success I thought..." (since 2000/1 in fact with the publication of The Ave Valley, northern Portugal: an archaeological survey of Iron Age and Roman settlement by Martin Millett et al. and Anglian and Anglo-Scandinavian Cottam: linking digital publication and archive by Julian Richards). "And what about the LEAP projects since 2006, and... " [pop]

Did you hear that? That was my bubble bursting.

I wasn't so much railing against the journal's omittance in the discussion (nor am I the only one to respond to the blog), rather it made me quite reflective, and I wondered if this was a sign that I should be making much more of splash about the journal, shouting much louder about what good things that I, and many other people, believe Internet Archaeology is achieving, especially in the collaborative projects with the Archaeology Data Service. So here I am, hopefully trying to make a few bigger waves.

Drilling down through rich, diverse, international content is what Internet Archaeology is all about. For instance, this issue contains 3D models and fly-throughs of a Pompeiian house, a searchable dataset of excavated prehistoric and early historic roundhouses in Wales (funded by the University of Wales Board of Celtic Studies), a wide-ranging account of social and economic trends in Yorkshire accompanied by a series of map overlays of sites and find spots, the presentation of a new GIS technique to obtain more accurate viewsheds from Iron Age Iberian hillforts and an article on using SVG and Ajax to enhance graphical representation of spatial data from the ancient city of Sikyon in Greece as well as using it as a project collaboration tool.

Internet Archaeology is unique. Certainly within archaeology but also outside the discipline, it's one of the few e-journals with a depth of embedded multimedia and has always been aware of the potential of the web to enable interlinking of resources and to 'drill down' to a finer grain of detail. Depth and the building up of layers and meaning are concepts that every archaeologist is familiar with. This goes beyond providing supplementary material. Internet Archaeology publishes elements that cannot be reproduced in print (3D models, searchable datasets) and incorporates them into article narratives. They are not just add-ons or extras. And once you factor in the deeper links that are then made to related digital archive holdings, then this adds a whole new dimension to the way a user can explore a question and find more information.

So, nevermind that we've been publishing rich, multimedia content for 11 years, that I have three issues-worth of content already on the books (but I am always interested in new proposals), that every single article is peer-reviewed by a leading expert in the field, that the journal has an international advisory board, that a publication in the journal does 'count' towards the Research Assessment Exercise in the UK for example (but also see some recent discussion with Nick Eiteljorg on the issue of publication and tenure more widely), or that we undertake the long-term maintenance and preservation of the digital resources that we have created and published. The bottom line is, there are so many more people 'out there' who have never heard of Internet Archaeology than all those of you who know about the journal, who read and publish in it. As Jakob Nielsen says, users will always spend the majority of their time on other people's websites. It leaves me with just one task still outstanding after all that content preparation. I just need make sure that the journal's legacy is more than a very small splash in a very large pond.

Let's see where the ripples take us.

Back to Issue 23


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