Being FAIR when archaeological information is MEAN: Miscellaneous, Exceptional, Arbitrary, Nonconformist

Submitted by Isto Huvila on Mon, 04/03/2017 - 10:48

Presentation at the Centre for Digital Heritage 2017 conference in Leiden, the Netherlands.


The importance of increasing findability, accessibility, interoperability and reusability of archaeological information has been acknowledged widely in the literature and the professional archaeological community. At the same time, there seems to be an almost equally widespread conviction that this cannot be done because archaeology is distinct from other disciplines within which the contemporary principles of data management and reuse have been developed. Archaeological information is so miscellaneous, exceptional, arbitrary and nonconformist that it is impossible to make available in similar terms than information in other disciplines.

Based on the findings of empirical research on archaeological information work, the presentation shows that there are indeed major differences in how information is used and knowledge is made in contemporary archaeology and, for instance, many science, technology and medical disciplines but that it does not necessarily mean that archaeology could not be FAIR in its own terms. The presentation argues that focus of contemporary information practices in archaeology is not in discipline-wide naming of entities and following a shared agenda of explicating interactions between these named entities, the FAIRness of archaeological information repositories is more focused and acted out in the interactions between the specific makers and users of archaeological information.

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