Robert Hecht

(Research Studios Austria, Vienna, Austria)

In recent years, a lot of archaeological information has been digitized. However, often these data can not unfold their full potential for the following reasons: 1) often they are available only locally at the institution that owns them and thus cannot be accessed (or even found) by researchers from outside. 2) Data bases describing related subjects are often isolated – synergies that could be achieved by joining them are lost. 3) Data are described using different standards or proprietary schemas. 4) Since the data bases are scattered and inhomogeneous, querying them is a laborious task.
The EU FP6 project BRICKS (Building Resources for Integrated Cultural Knowledge Services), a Digital Library for the Cultural Heritage domain based on a trusted peer-to-peer network, aims to overcome these obstacles. The decentralized nature of BRICKS minimizes the administrative overhead for its member institutions. BRICKS also strives to minimize the effort for importing existing data to encourage its members to make them available in BRICKS. However, since we understand that the owners of the data want to control its usage, BRICKS offers fine-grained access control and Digital Rights Management to prevent unauthorized distribution.
We understand that a uniform standard for all fields of archaeology cannot be found due to the complexity of the subject. Therefore we facilitate the use of arbitrary metadata schemas. However, to achieve a basic level of interoperability, we require that all metadata be mapped to the Dublin Core format. Since this format is very simple, the mapping can in most cases be automated. We encourage mapping also to CIDOC CRM, which allows very fine-grained description and search. This will enable retrieving information about data described in different formats with a single query.
We encourage all projects to join BRICKS to enhance the potential of their data.