Winghardt, Stefan [Editor]; Niedersächsisches Landesamt für Denkmalpflege [Editor]; Institut für Denkmalpflege [Editor]; Puppe, Josefine [Oth.]
Arbeitshefte zur Denkmalpflege in Niedersachsen: Archäologie und Informationssysteme: vom Umgang mit archäologischen Fachdaten in Denkmalpflege und Forschung — Hameln: Niemeyer, Heft 42.2013

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Archäologie und Informationssysteme

Opening access to heritage resources: risk, opportunity or paradigm shift?
Anthony Beck

'Open' has captured the Zeitgeist. It is argued that by
providing clear and transparent access to knowledge
objects (data, theories and knowledge (open access,
open data, open methods, open knowledge)) and
enhancing collaborative and Creative input 'open'
approaches have the potential to revolutionise Sci-
ence, humanities and arts. Open approaches require
active engagement and are as much a social and
organisational issue as a technical one. This requires
engagement from a broader societal base. For exam-
ple, primary data creators need the appropriate incen-
tives to provide access to Open Data - these incenti-
ves will vary between different groups: contract
archaeologists, curatorial archaeologists and research
archaeologists all have different drivers. Equally
important is that open approaches raise a number of
ethical issues. A UK focus has been taken: the author
appreciates there are differences in application outsi-
de the UK. This is a shortened version of a paper that
is published in the Journal of World Archaeology spe-
cial issue on open Archaeology in Autumn 2012.

Heritage resources within landscapes are at risk from
a variety of natural and anthropogenic forces. The loss
of some of these resources is inevitable, but the deci-
sion making process is a delicate balancing act bet-
ween different cultural, industrial and economic issu-
es which can be enacted at different scales: from the
local to the international. Data, and the subsequent
information and knowledge that is derived from an
integrated data corpus, should be used effectively to
produce realistic policy (i. e. policy which can be
enacted and produces the desired impact) and deve-
lop effective governance strategies (be they local,
regional, national or global). The underlying ethos is
that better decisions are made when users can access
appropriate parts of the knowledge base in a männer
which is relevant to the problem they are solving. The
Problem is that decisions, policy or research is not
enacted with .perfect' knowledge. Current approa-
ches mean that research and decision making is
undertaken on a sub-set of the corpus of data. This
leads to a Rumsfeldian System of knowledge availabi-
lity (see Figure 1):



Things that

we are aware of



or potential)


Things that we are

unaware of that

may be important

for the problem

The 'potential* knowledge cloud

for a problem

1 The 'potential' knowledge cloud for a problem (re-used under a CC-By licence from Anthony Beck:
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