6.3 A place on the Web

A web space was maintained for the duration of the excavation. This included basic information regarding the project's context and progress, with regular updates comprising text, images and low-resolution MPEG video clips.

It rapidly became clear that this required a lot more staff time to maintain than we had expected. We had allocated time for the web-master to prepare and submit the web pages but too much time was required for other members of the team to provide the supporting texts, extract images and video files during days that were already very long and fully occupied with the demands of a tight fieldwork schedule. This situation was not helped by the fact that the work on the web site had to take place off-site some miles away, so that questions arising from the web site could only realistically be dealt with at the end of the long working day.

If an active excavation web site is to provide more than a simple collection of daily images and short notes, considerable resources are required, certainly more than we had ambitiously allocated at the time. This all raises questions regarding the objectives of developing an active web space during excavation. Even if we had installed web-cams and had the web space development work taken place at the excavation, the time required to make the content intelligible would have been very considerable, particularly with reference to the project directors and site supervisors. For such a small excavation, conducted within a limited timeframe, the benefit for any web-site visitors is too limited. For a much larger excavation with a larger team, extensive supporting infrastructure, and less pressure to complete within a very short season, the creation of an active web space does offer an important route for informing the public, particularly if it is part of a wider public engagement exercise combining open days and other public information outputs. In the case of DigIT, with its small team and limited duration, the approach in the end was inappropriate.


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Last updated: Wed Nov 11 2009