Why a Net presence? Because the net is there, and gaining a sufficient momentum: we did not want to be left off. We were not the first, even under an Antiquity title: Peter Toohey (Founding Editor) and Ian Worthington (Editor) at the University of Tasmania began in 1993 an electronic-only journal of classics called Electronic Antiquity. (When we asked him to change his title as it was too close to ours, he reasonably enough declined.) There was, and is, no direct commercial benefit. We hope it keeps us in our readership's (and potential subscribers') eye; and that may be enough cause. Antiquity is a non-profit trust, so usefulness to the archaeological community comes before profit.
What do we put on the web page? Material that will be useful there, and makes a manageable size - without substituting for the journal. So we have there an introductory page about Antiquity, subscription details, notes for contributors, and so on; the main element is an issue-by-issue listing of what there is in each number. This reproduces the full contents list from the issue, plus the first page or so of four articles taken from it as 'highlights' (or 'teasers'). We work to a quarterly rhythm, putting up the new issue when it goes to press; so the web update with full details of this issue was finalized when this issue went for typesetting, about four weeks before its publication. By then, we had good but not full knowledge of what will be in the succeeding issue, so a partial list of what is anticipated in the March 1998 issue went up at the same time. As a reference, we consolidated the three printed indexes to the journal (each covering a span of years) with the annual indexes since the last time it was collected, and put that on the web page. It is the only place the full index exists; there is no printed equivalent. A new aspect began with the September 1997 issue, when we added to the web five files of supplementary material to enlarge on the printed text (already long by Antiquity standards) of Mary Jackes, David Lubell & Christopher Meiklejohn's paper, 'Healthy but mortal: human biology and the first farmers of western Europe'. Since the supplementary material was to be on the web, we put up the printed text from the journal as well; so that is a first Antiquity contribution that can be accessed on the web in full. And since the present Review special section is largely about the Web, we are putting it up on Antiquity's home-page as well.
How do we do it? Colleagues at Internet Archaeology in York, thinking it would be instructive to see this kind of web venture alongside their own, kindly host our pages (which is why our URL is nearly the same as theirs). Ben Horton, freelance, designed our web pages at modest cost in HTML, the layout language the Net uses. We encounter many pages (like the Society for American Archaeology or Plenum Press) in which a fancy graphic taking seconds to load turns out just to be the name of the host in an elaborate form; so we have kept Antiquity's nearly to text-only. We want pages that will load 1?2?3?there, not 1?2?3?4-and-carry-on-waiting. Ben made its colours red and black on cream - the colours of the journal cover - and echoes its text design, so we hope it has the same 'look'.
The design done, one of us (EP) learnt HTML and has looked after page revisions and updates ever since, quarterly alongside the printed book, and in between if there is need. Writing in HTML is getting easier, partly thanks to our growing experience and partly because the programs to write HTML are improving fast. Underneath the surface of what you see on-screen, HTML is intricate. Mixed in with a line in a table which appears on-screen like
is a range of coding characters to specify bold, italic and so on, to write the ± character, and to align the columns; the HTML line that generates the whole effect is:
<tr><th>Stonehenge</th><td align=center>N<td align=center>ditch<td align=center><i>charcoal</i><td align=center>BM-46<td align=center>2450±150</td></tr>
The newer HTML software is more WYSIWYG, 'What You See Is What You Get', like a modern word-processor, so you do not have to deal directly with the coding which creates the bold, italic and so on; still, it can take only one character wrong or missing to derail the whole line.
In other ways, the Internet is pernickety: get one character wrong in a URL, even just by substituting a capital 'A' for a small 'a', and you get the true and unhelpful message of Error 404, 'Access denied, or file does not exist.' For the September issue, we tried to use 'Jackes&' in file-names for the version of Jackes & Lubell's paper that would go up on the Antiquity web-page; then we discovered the '&' character is not permitted in a URL, and had to change them. (By then, we had already typeset 'Jackes&' in referring to the web URL for the printed copy, and had to correct that and reprint a sheet at the last minute.) HTML uses generic coding, which specifies something as, e.g., a third-level heading which will appear in different graphic form on different browsers; so we think it will always be less straightforward than a word-processor where one specifies in the particular as, say, '14 point Helvetica'.
How much does it cost? Our initial bills were for the design and for Alison Gascoigne's patient consolidating of the several indexes into one, a slow job. Now there is just the time EP needs for the HTML work; this gets less with practice, but is to be counted in mornings rather than minutes. Modest cost to Antiquity, free to user; in business terms, just another overhead item. A larger web presence would cost more and, when it began to substitute for the printed journal, start to steal revenue.
How many people use the web page? The first month, 1680 pages were requested, and by the end of 1996, 6478 had been. Our peaks in March and September 1997 have been around 11,000, with June surprisingly low for publication month. The figures are still on an upward trend, with Wednesday our busiest day and 4?8 a.m. GMT our quietest hours.
Who are they? Our visitors include:
Is it worth it? We think and hope so, without really knowing. The same is true of our supplying quite a number of Third World and other universities with Antiquity free of charge or at a reduced rate, where foreign exchange is scarce. With experience, and a pattern emerging of the complementary-cum-competing roles of printed and of electronic in archaeological knowledge, Antiquity may come to a clearer idea. Meanwhile, it sometimes makes us ask, 'Just who is archaeological knowledge for?' 'Just where does archaeologicalknowledge go?'