CSS for success? Exploring Browser-based Data Collection Using Tablets and the Archaeological Recording Kit (ARK)

Presenter: Andrew Dufton (Brown University)

The Archaeological Recording Kit (ARK) is an Open Source system for flexible, web-based archaeological data management. Designed to facilitate simultaneous data creation and dissemination through a simple web interface, ARK faces new challenges with the growing use of tablets for on-site recording. How do mobile systems interact with ARK’s single-server functionality? Should the ARK team develop a stand-alone tablet application?

This paper looks at a range of projects exploring mobile data collection using the ARK system. The scope of these projects ranges from a traditional research-driven excavation at Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli, to a crowd-funded community project in the British countryside, to commercially-driven rescue work in the heart of London, to a methods class taught on the Brown University campus. A discussion of the potentials and pitfalls of various integration techniques used in these case studies will provide insights on the most fruitful future directions for the ARK platform, and on the benefits of browser based data collection more generally for a paperless archaeological practice.