Critique of Archaeological Reason
11. Data handling


Giorgio Buccellati – May 2017

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Operational sequence

The approach to the creation of the CAR website relies in the first place on basic ASCII format input files. The entries are governed by specific formatting rules and are identified by simple codes. A proprietary but publicly available program (DABI) integrates the input in a set of overall intermediate output files, that serve as a cumulative database, on which the same program creates the display version that appears on the website.

This approach builds on the experience gained with the Urkesh website.

Following are the major goals of this methodology.

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(1) Ease of input

The system envisages the collaboration by different individuals, not necessarily with any experience in website formatting. To this end, the input format is designed with two major aims.

The first is that contributions may be as short as desired: this means that one may include in any given input file a simple bibliographical reference, or even a single note. This makes for the utmost flexibility in submitting entries at any given time.

The second is that there is an easy track record of contributions, each if which remains in the archives as a distinct file.

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(2) Portability of data

The basic data, both in the form of the original input files and in the form of the cumulative database, or intermediate output, remain available in a plain ASCII format, which will remain as the most durable in time. While the ASCII files are not per se available online, they are stored for potential future reworkings through any program language and any digital platform that will emerge to replace the current ones.

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(3) Multiple outputs

From the intermediate output or database a multiplicty of additional outputs are possible. The ones that are currently available are the files in the section of authorship and in the indices.

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Access to the input files is not public: their content matches exactly what is displayed in the browser rendering. They are, however, archived, and they remain available as the basic data from which the website is constructed.

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