5.2 Recommendations for information policy development
As a result of the discussion above, we make the following recommendations for the development of information policy for archaeology and related sectors. The recommendations are made based on the analysis and the internationally comparative discussion of the current Swedish situation, but can arguably serve as grounds to discuss information policy development in other national contexts as well.
Incorporate explicit goals for information management in archaeology and related areas. Include a specification of target groups for different actions, e.g. who is supposed to benefit from information dissemination by development-led (DL) archaeology firms, or by digitisation of museum collections (the research community/the DL archaeology sector/the museum sector/special interested general public/the general public without restrictions etc.). Develop guidelines for what type of information should be accessible to which of these target groups and why.
Divide information management responsibilities among actors. Consider 'least effort/cost' implementation by the actors and explicate, by means of determining goals and target groups, what abstract concepts such as 'disseminate' entail in the policy context. Preferably, consider the overall interaction between institutions with different types of professional expertise in the distribution of responsibilities, e.g. archival professionals should be engaged in making archiving decisions rather than leaving them to DL archaeology professionals (without any expertise in archiving); museum professionals can be expected to have the competence to communicate archaeology to the general public rather than a field archaeologist.
Define the geographical/social reach of the local/regional/national archaeological information. As of today, Swedish institutions engage in cross-national information-sharing initiatives and projects for creating standards and setting up structures, spending considerable amounts of money on enabling international access to heritage and archaeological information. At the same time, information policy for archaeology in national heritage legislation and guidelines is limited to the national context and does not support international sharing of currently produced information. A clarification of the state's intention in the area of international sharing of archaeological information would arguably support and facilitate sustainable sharing, but also serve to signal whether, and if so how, the state has reasons to limit the sharing of certain information.
Avoid suggesting separate guidelines and goals for digital preservation and digital dissemination/sharing of activities, collections, archives and audio-visual archives. Separate strategies disconnect digital information from analogue information and stimulate the emergence of parallel working groups and departments for processing and making decisions on digital information. Breaking heritage information into different compartments also risks breaking the continuum of heritage information management, causing gaps in the information process and eventually leading to a loss of available information. Furthermore, the independent policy development in media specific or traditional institutional contexts may lead to the neglect of useful expertise on heritage information management, analysis of user needs and preferences available elsewhere (e.g. competence held by archivists and librarians) that could be essential in developing effective digital systems and solutions. Separate strategies also allocate resources to strategy development, guideline production, and the instigation of discrete 'digitisation' activities instead of directing them to support the development of integrated information-management solutions and approaches to support the joint national and international endeavour of archaeological knowledge production.
We suggest above recommendations to be considered in information policy development. More importantly however, on an overarching level the analysis presented in this article demonstrates the value of information policy analysis in archaeology and related areas. The information policy analysis explicates how information interactions are covered by regulations, but also where the regulations may defy knowledge production. Thus we encourage policymakers and practitioners to view the regulations for information in archaeology and archaeology-related work as information policy, i.e. the outcomes of disciplinary information politics. These information politics depend on an engaged debate, in which policymakers and practitioners from all parts of archaeology should take part, and should be welcomed to do so. We argue information policy impacts archaeological knowledge production on a par with theoretical and methodological standpoints. The engagement in, critical analysis of, and debate about information policy should therefore reflect this importance.