Buried by paperwork….

…and almost killed by a cold.

OK, I exaggerate a little, but I seem to spend my life sifting through paperwork which should have been organised better in the first place. Why don’t I learn? I’ve had my own business for 8 years now - you’d think I’d have the hang of it by now.

To make matters worse I’ve been suffering from a stinking cold this last week. I finally gave up on Friday and spent most of the day in bed - and finally got some descent sleep to boot. I was zonked!

Anyway, I’ve been mulling over an idea in my head for a few days now (not seriously mulling it over, but its popped into my line of thinking once or twice), so I thought I’d pop it up here and see if anyone else has any opinions. I don’t expect anyone will have any opinions, but you’ve gotta keep on trying for a response…

So the idea is roughly this: the Open SMR. SMR stands for “Sites and Monuments Record”, and Open means it is based on open standards, is Free (in some sense), and is transparent (as in a community lead effort). Back when I did my archaeology degree every council planning department had to keep and SMR. An SMR is basically a list (usually kept in a database or GIS) of all the archaeological and historical points of interest in the administrative area covered by the SMR. This could be anything from a spot where a Roman coin was found by a man out walking his dog to the site of a large prehistoric monument.

My dissertation was about possible methods of getting a publicly accessible SMR online, because I believe our archaeological heritage belongs to all of us (well, tax payers at least…), and information relating to it should be easy to find, search and peruse. Since writing that though, the Internet has changed vastly, and I’m sure that using current popular technologies such as blogs, wikis, microformats, mashups with Google or Yahoo! maps, and a minimal amount of jiggery-pokery, it would be possible to create a pretty nifty application.

Perhaps someone has already done this? I don’t know - it’s years since I’ve looked into such things - but I would be interested in seeing it if they have…

Anyway, my tea should be brewed now, and I have bank statements to order so must press on.

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2 Responses to “Buried by paperwork….

  • Bruce Howard
    October 15th, 2007 13:59


    Things have moved on a lot in the last few years with a number of records being available in one form or another online - SMRs are now mostly transforming themselves into broader Historic Environment Records (HERs), dealing with Historic Buildings, Designed Landscapes, Characterisation, Maritime archaeology etc in additional to traditional archaeological sites and monuments.

    The development and maintenance of an SMR or HER has never been a statutory responsibility for local authorities in England, but in the recent Heritage White Paper this is suggested and is likely to happen once a Heritage Bill is passed by Parliament.

    You can find out more about developments, standards and guidance for HERs in the online manual Informing the Future of the Past: Guidelines for Historic Environment Records (Second Edition - 2007) at www.ifp-plus.info


    Bruce Howard
    National Monuments Record
    English Heritage

  • Sharon Sweeting
    October 18th, 2007 20:57

    Hi Mark! :)

    I just wanted to drop in and say Hi!
    Oh don’t even mention paperwork.. it certainly is my downfall! And yes I should be more organized.

    Hope your tea was good, I just had my afternoon cup of Cuban Coffee…

    Have a wonderful day, and I hope you are feeling better !! :)

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