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Presented at Society for American Archaeologists, 78th Annual Meeting (http://www.saa.org/AbouttheSociety/AnnualMeeting/2013Program/tabid/1498/Default.aspx), 3-7 April 2013, Honolulu, Hawaii (USA).
Abstract: Archaeologists face major changes in the ways they collect, use their own and reuse others’ “data” in the digital era. Spreadsheets documenting finds, digital journals linked to images of a site, CAD drawings side by side with GIS shape files documenting the site over time are all increasingly common data appearing on archaeologists’ laptops. The importance of all this descriptive information is underlined by archaeology’s often destructive methods and cultural property policies that may restrict the accessibility of finds for later study. On the flip side, digital data is deceivingly easy to share with colleagues; yet at the same time it also creates new complexities for data reuse, i.e., the use of data by someone other than the original collector. This presentation will discuss four aspects of archaeological work that affect the reuse of digital data: documentation practices, data sharing norms, contextual information needs, and digital preservation. We will then contrast archaeologists’ experiences with those of quantitative social scientists who have shared digital data for over fifty years. Our findings are based on interviews with 66 archaeologists and quantitative social scientists and the data reuse and preservation literature.