Whether we like it or not, the face of academic publishing and data archiving is changing around us as a result of the digital revolution of the past 20 years. Archaeologists have been active participants in the revolution, albeit at a somewhat slower pace that many might like because of the traditional conservatism of our field, not to mention the obvious economic difficulties in keeping up with the latest and greatest.

As I pointed out in a different paper, though, the greatest innovation we can make in how we deal with this digital world is not a technological one, but an intellectual one.

"I also believe that a necessary part of this strategy must be the development of a new conservation ethic for existing data much as has developed in our field for the preservation of archaeological sites themselves. Indeed, the archiving of all data records, whether they be digital or not, is taking on new importance as many professional and academic societies of archaeologists, such as SAA, AIA, and Register of Professional Archaeologists, among others, promulgate strict archiving standards from an ethical perspective (cf. Parezo and Fowler 1995). The demands of digital preservation, however, create even more urgency for such standards to be created. Once again, we can begin with individuals who will take their ethical responsibilities seriously, and will either develop their own IT strategies, or will deposit their data with existing organizations. This will require a change in mindset, obviously, as well as the reward structure in both academic and professional arenas, and we should begin to get equal credit for preserving, as well as publishing, the results of our labors." (Aldenderfer in press).

In other words, we are going to have to rethink our relationship to publishing and archiving. This will be difficult, because we are a traditionally underfunded field, and usually, developing a new initiative almost always means a reduction in funding for something else. But it is a challenge we must meet as individuals, working to ensure that the results of our work - the deliberate destruction of archaeological sites as we excavate them - does not join the long and ever-growing list of projects on the Dead Media Page.


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Last updated: Thu Jul 15 1999