5.3 Data ownership and permanency

In addition to the challenges surrounding the creation of an application, the recent 'ownership' issues surrounding data posted in Google products have been of considerable concern to many (Gustin 2012; Pentland 2013). Hosting a Google Earth project for download by users outside of Google may be one way to overcome this issue in the short term, and there is perhaps a greater challenge for those projects considering using Google Maps (see section 5.2). In addition, anxiety about the permanency of outputs is a genuine consideration, both from the perspective of archiving data content, and the time length of user viability of any application they are hosted within (Myers 2010).

Data archiving can be achieved outside a Google Earth project by utilising providers such as the Archaeology Data Service (ADS). In Seeing Beneath Stonehenge data were standardised, managed and maintained following the ADS guidelines (Gillings and Wise 1999). This will ensure that ultimately data remain accessible and understandable to individuals that wish to draw from it, as well as providing data formats that can be used across a number of platforms and incorporated into other projects and software. Any standalone Google Earth application will inevitably have a limited lifespan, as new interpretations and evidence, alongside changes in technology and the way people engage with data, will ultimately combine to allow the natural lifecycle of technology and ideas to take their course. An example of this is Seeing Beneath Stonehenge itself, which was never designed to be actively curated, and as such inevitably provides a snapshot of the interpretation and conclusions drawn by the Stonehenge Riverside Project at the time it was created. While the significant majority of the application is still in date and very relevant, the project is now considering how best to update and enhance this type of resource in light of the forthcoming concluding monographs (see Section 2).