On Thu, 27 May 1999, Authorised User wrote:
> As to 'much ado about nothing' one has to consider the major issues of, for
> example, who is to pay for the additional 'processing' of data and archive
> to make it usable in electronic format, problems of availability now and in
> the future, not to mention the possibility of archive and data being
> 'cleaned up' to be consistent and coherent for in electronic publication.

I have a different perspective on this issue.  In my experience, the
typical data cycle goes from field notes to computer (in various forms)
and then to paper for publication, where it is consulted by other
researchers, who, if they find the data sufficiently interesting, key it
back into the computer for reanalysis.  In my opinion, one of the great
prospects of electronic publishing is the possibility of including with a
"paper" or report all of the basic data and the (preferably open-source)
software used in the analyses.  Interested researchers can then re-run the
analyses to verify that the reported descriptions are accurate and
complete, and re-analyze the data with a minimum of duplicated labor. 

In my opinion, this model of publication would go a long way toward
changing the situation described for archaeology by Gaffney and Exon in
Vol. 6, where the "word synthesis carries an implicit suggestion of
control of access to data, partial interpretation of information and a
potential for the projection of normative or totalising views."  The
contrast between this view of synthesis, and the view of sythesis that
might hold in a discipline that published electronically as sketched above
are fairly substantial.  One can't predict the future with any confidence,
but I imagine a fairly strong analogy with the experience of software
engineers, who have developed two contrasting methods of creating software
systems, characterized by Eric Raymond in an interesting electronic paper,
as the Cathedral and the Bazaar
(  Our present
situation in archaeology, described by Gaffney and Exon, resembles
Raymond's Cathedral; electronic publishing in archaeology might more
closely resemble the Bazaar, which if Raymond is right and the analogy
holds, would make our interpretations of prehistory more robust and
possibly more useful than they are currently.


Thomas S. Dye, Ph.D.             
Home: 813 16th Avenue, Honolulu, Hawaii 96816.  Voice (808) 734-2087.
Work: International Archaeological Research Institute, Inc., 2081 Young St.,
      Honolulu, Hawaii 96826. Voice (808) 946-2548; Fax 943-0716.