linkedARC.net

My doctoral research focuses on the subject of Archaeological Digital Data Management. Archaeology has a somewhat dysfunctional relationship with digital data. It is great producer and consumer of the stuff but the methods that are used in these processes of creation and use tend to be so heterogeneous to verge on the level of chaos. Essentially, there are many archaeological projects and individual scholars out there operating within the digital domain but for the most part they are playing by their own rules. There are many historical reasons for this (perhaps the most pertinent being related to the old chestnut of whether archaeology is a science or an art) and the cumulative effect is of a field that is held back by its internal knowledge flow deficit.

My own research into the topic was provoked by a number of years working within this data environment. I felt that something could surely be done to address the problem and given my ICT background, I initially felt that the solution would be found in the technical world. My first suggestion was that a standard could be formulated. All archaeological agents would adopt the standard and these would assuage the current impasse. Unfortunately, I soon learnt that standards had been previously tried in archaeology and that that they had largely failed, at least in the context of their employment across a broad spectrum within the discipline.

I then realised that the use of digital data had a moral aspect. Good digital data practice should be seen as a moral imperative and on this basis I feel that the onus is on each individual creator of archaeological digital data to manage their data needs in a sustainable manner. And by sustainable, I mean that the data produced by a morally upstanding agent should be as accessible today as it is possible to make and that every effort should be made to ensure that this continues into the future.

On this basis, I have created the linkedARC.net system. Initially, I am using it to host the digital data of the Priniatikos Pyrgos and Atsipadhes archaeological projects, which are both concerned with the material record of sites on the island of Crete. linkedARC.net implements the tenets of Linked Open Data practice using the RDF data model. linkedARC.net is a data server and a suite of data clients. Currently, linkedARC.net is in development and only one client has been developed. This is the linkedARC.net web app but plans are already in place to increase this range of clients to include iPhone and other smartphone apps.