Issue 6, Editorial

Judith Winters *

Cite this as: Winters, J. 1999 Editorial, Internet Archaeology 6.

"One can fantasize endlessly about electronic 'journals', but without active authorship and readership there is nothing."  Ann Okerson

There has been more interest than I'd ever anticipated in issue 6 "Digital Publication", the first themed issue of Internet Archaeology - so much so that several more related articles have been submitted and will appear in issue 7! The discussion on linearity and hypertext, arising from the contributions by Cornelius Holtorf and Andre Costopoulos, also generated some serious and lengthy debate on our email discussion list intarch-interest for the first time too, and my thanks go out to all who participated - active authorship and readership in practice.

Archaeologists are using the web and other electronic media more than ever now, but I believe that this is not just "because it's there". Theoretically and practically, the internet is a valuable tool for us. On the web, rather than on the printed page, we can come closer to fulfilling our concerns about dissemination, we can more easily incorporate many "voices" and facilitate the opening up of our work and our interpretations to critical inquiry, immediately and on a global scale. At the same time, the web also offers new and experimental ways of expressing and communicating our work, and the flexibility of the medium means that our information can even be layered in complexity - depth and the building up of layers and meaning are concepts that every archaeologist is familiar with after all! But there's one more reason why I think archaeology and the web should be embraced. The printed word lies at the very core of a discipline like history; archaeology, on the other hand, is made up of what we see (images), what we feel (experience), what we find (material), what we read (text) - it is multimedia. So what better way to communicate all these things than in a like-minded medium?

Publishing a themed issue was a new venture for the journal and although in the beginning it was solely a deliberate "bringing together" of archaeologists to talk about their experiences and to explore what they have learned from working in the medium, it has since become a microcosm of the debates taking place within archaeology everywhere - how can we better communicate our work to others, how can we represent the landscapes within which we work, how can we be multi-vocal and include a range of interpretations, viewpoints, and positions, as well as offer up our raw data rather than a single synthesis, how does doing what we do affect how we practice and publish archaeology?

In-depth and from several perspectives, this theme has offered a chance to explore all these things in the small scale. There is a danger, however, that it is seen as the definitive word on the subject, but the discussion we've had, and the articles both published and still to come, should put that notion to bed once and for all. A theme is a useful way of bringing together current thought and discussion, and in several respects it is no different from other more mixed issues published so far, since individual articles deal with working, using and publishing on the web in very different ways. But a theme can only ever represent its subject's fluid and changing character - it's a snapshot in time, a glimpse of the nature of on-going discussion. The articles in issue 6 merely represent the birth of dialogue rather than an artefact of it. There is no doubt that the topics touched upon will resurface in a myriad of forms for a long time to come, for although the subject was digital publication in archaeology, what has actually been discussed within this issue has a much wider relevance and impinges on all archaeological practice.

The Last Word

This is my first editorial since taking over as Editor from Alan Vince, who left in June to pursue his freelance career, so I hope you don't mind my using this opportunity to offer my thanks to him publicly for setting the standard and successfully overseeing the journal through its first six issues. I'm sure you'll join me in wishing him all the best for the future.

Judith Winters

July 1999

Ann Okerson quoted in:
M. P. Collins and Z. L. Berge, 'IPCT Journal: A Case Study of an Electronic Journal on the Internet', Journal of the American Society for Information Science 45 (1994): 771-76.


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Last updated: Thu Jul 15 1999