The politics of paradata in documentation standards and recommendations for digital archaeological visualisations

Abstract
Digitalisation of research data and massive efforts to make it findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable has revealed that in addition to an eventual lack of description of the data itself (metadata), data reuse is often obstructed by the lack of information about the data- making and interpretation (i.e. paradata). In search of the extent and composition of categories for describing processes, this article reviews a selection of standards and recommendations frequently referred to as useful for documenting archaeological visualisations. It provides insight into 1) how current standards can be employed to document provenance and processing history (i.e. paradata), and 2) what aspects of the processing history can be made transparent using current stan- dards and which aspects are pushed back or hidden. The findings show that processes are often either completely absent or only partially addressed in the standards. However, instead of criticising standards for bias and omissions as if a perfect description of everything would be attainable, the findings point to the need for a comprehensive con- sideration of the space a standard is operating in (e.g. national heri- tage administration or international harmonisation of data). When a standard is used in a specific space it makes particular processes, methods, or tools transparent. Given these premises, if the standard helps to document what needs to be documented (e.g. paradata), and if it provides a type of transparency required in a certain space, it is reasonable to deem the standard good enough for that purpose.
Year of Publication
2020
Journal
Digital Culture and Society
Volume
6
Number of Pages
191-220
DOI
10.14361/dcs-2020-0210