Interoperate with whom? Archaeology, formality and the semantic web

Isaksen, Leif, Martinez, Kirk, Earl, Graeme, Gibbins, Nicholas and Keay, Simon (2011) Interoperate with whom? Archaeology, formality and the semantic web. In, Proceedings of Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology. Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology 2010 , Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology.


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‘Interoperability’ is often cited as a fundamental end-goal for archaeological information systems, but the highly abstract nature of this supposed benefit sits uneasily with the task-oriented realities of day-to-day data management. The approach most frequently advocated is to increase the number of formal standards used by the system. This increases the possibilities for system integration, but raises additional barriers to entry that reduce the potential pool of systems to interoperate with. Semantic technologies in particular (and associated ontological approaches, such as the CIDOC CRM) have frequently faced ac-cusations that the costs associated with development outweigh the perceived benefits of use.

This paper identifies several different communities that publish Cultural Heritage information and argues that in order to encourage contribution across the spectrum, a multi-level conception of digital semantics should be established. This is especially necessary for data-driven microproviders – the group within which most archaeologists fall – as they are currently poorly served by most of the semantic technologies developed to date.

We discuss this problem in reference to current doctoral research being undertaken in archaeological data integration. We argue that technologies that either heavily front-load or defer dealing with semantic complexity are unlikely to be viable across the user spectrum. An approach which offers multiple ‘pay-off points’ is inherently more attractive to potential adopters.

Item Type: Book Section
Related URLs:
Keywords: semantic web, linked data, collaboration
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA76 Computer software
Divisions : Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering > Electronics and Computer Science > Web & Internet Science
Faculty of Humanities > Archaeology
ePrint ID: 204523
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
2011In press
Date Deposited: 30 Nov 2011 15:21
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 13:47
Further Information:Google Scholar

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