By: Eric Kansa
Twenty-first century archaeology must make data preservation and dissemination a regular partof its workflows. Better data dissemination can promote analytic rigor and transparency, reduceinefficiencies and duplication of effort, and open new research opportunities for larger scale andmultidisciplinary inquiry. At a time of cutting fiscal austerity, such efforts can reduce costs andexpand the equity and effectiveness of archaeological communication. While programs in archaeological data preservation and access continue to attract a great deal of excitement and funding, they face steep challenges. Long-term sustainability is a major concern,as are issues in interoperability, semantics, data longevity, and professional incentives. In order to face these challenges, we need to better understand the emerging social, professional and technical context of digital archaeology. One of the most important features of this context is the Web. The rise of the World Wide Web represents one of the most significant transitions in communications since the printing press or even since the origins of writing. To many researchers, the Web offers great opportunities for expanding the accessibility, scale, diversity,and quality of archaeological communications both for current research and, through data preservation efforts, for future generations. Understanding the Web, and how it interfaces with the changing and more fluid nature of professional life, is a vital first step in securing a vibrant future for the digital past.