A glimpse of the future

Although the creative use of hypermedia technology in archaeology is only beginning, archaeologists are becoming more and more aware of its potentials (e.g. Thomas 1996; Denning 1998).

Generally I would say that hypermedia technology can undoubtedly have a big impact in archaeology. But for that to happen it is necessary that its potentials are employed more radically than is often the case now. Only then is there any hope that my original vision from 1995 may one day be fulfilled.

Publishing without commercial publishers allows for more variety, creativity, spontaneity, and also for a different (possibly younger) audience. But it can only flourish when authors actually want to be creative and spontaneous and when the new audience cares to read their documents. Non-linear writing forms, literal intertextuality, and an actual open-endedness of texts allow for an entirely different writing and reading culture beyond the great library tradition. Yet it will only begin to make a lasting impact when people are ready for the challenge and want to get involved themselves. This may take a whole generation, but probably less if we consider the speed of innovation in computing.

A good example for the experimental spirit of some current work is the electronic graduate journal Assemblage from Sheffield, and in particular Graeme Warren's hypermedia paper ' Seascapes' published in issue 2 in 1997 ( Warren 1997). The Çatal Höyük Project in Turkey also offers impressive hypermedia presentations of its work and promises even more ( Thomas 1996; Hodder 1997 and in this issue of Internet Archaeology). There are many more initiatives and it is already now impossible to have an overview. However, in the brave new world of the World Wide Web plus hypermedia, there is no need to be comprehensive at any one point. If you want to see what is going on in Archaeology right now then go ahead and play with your favourite search engine or check ArchNet or ARGE which provide excellent overviews of archaeological resources on the World Wide Web, more and more of which are using hypermedia technology in interesting ways.


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Last updated: Mon March 8 1999