• Digital Haystacks: Open Data and the Transformation of Archaeological Knowledge

    Jeremy Huggett (see profile)
    Archaeology--Data processing
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    Digital archaeology
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    Since the mid-1990s the development of online access to archaeological information has been revolutionary. Easy availability of data has changed the starting point for archaeological enquiry and the openness, quantity, range and scope of online digital data has long since passed a tipping point when online access became useful, even essential. However, this transformative access to archaeological data has not itself been examined in a critical manner. Access is good, exploitation is an essential component of preservation, openness is desirable, comparability is a requirement, but what are the implications for archaeological research of this flow – some would say deluge – of information? As more data are 'born digital' with access to them open to an increasingly wide audience, is it realistic to assume that archaeological knowledge itself remains unchanged in the process? How does our relationship with archaeological data change as the observations, measurements, uncertainties, ambiguities, interpretations and values encapsulated within our datasets are increasingly subject to scrutiny, comparison, and re-use? What are the implications of increasing access to increasing quantities of data drawn from different sources which are more or less open, more or less standardised, and increasingly reliant on search tools with greater degrees of automation and linkage? Given the fundamental – and frequently contested – nature of archaeological data, it is surprising that the implications of open access to those data remain largely uncontested. Instead, archaeology's digital haystack represents a largely unexplored set of practices mixing old and new in the creation of new infrastructures which transform the packaging, presentation, and analysis of the past. Examining this entails revisiting the notion of the 'archaeological record' within the context of the new technological frameworks, and considering the consequences of this digital data intervention.
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    Last Updated:
    3 years ago
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