Those of us who work with data often bear the brunt of criticism from post processual archaeologists. We have a tendency to work in a way that ‘scientificises’ and formalises what is essentially interpreted data. Especially in the field of site recording systems, our tendency is towards abstraction and removal of the voice of the excavator. We cannot claim to have totally answered these criticisms, but in our work we are certainly aiming to target those areas in which we can have most success.
Multivocality, for example, is one of the key areas that ARK can approach. It should be possible to record different interpretations for the same data and groups of data. We realised that ARK ought to provide these tools for readers and users, which can in turn empower the reader to become the interpreter and to contribute to the project.
Reflexivity is also something that ARK can easily address. The instantaneous nature of ARK and its web-based front-end means that people working on the project can interact with each other’s production on an almost immediate basis. ARK also makes it possible for individuals to group and interpret data in their own way, to present conflicting and differing interpretations of the same data.
Making multiple narratives possible
A result set in ARK can also saved out as a fixed snapshot or ‘group’. Groups then become ARK ‘items’ themselves, and can have other fragments or interpretations attached to them. This is essential as the project begins to build narrative, as stratigraphic groups or other groups can be commented on as a unit.