Presentation at the CAA 2024 conference in Auckland.
Studies of data documentation and reuse point to the need of documenting not only the whatness of data but also the processes and practices of how it came into being. Data can be truly open and FAIR only if it is known how it came into being, has been (re)shaped and used during its lifetime. Such process information is conventionally termed in archaeological literature as paradata (Huvila 2022). At the same time with underlining the need of more openness, there is extensive evidence in the literature of how radical transparency can also backfire and how it is frequently at odds with other equally central ethical and practical principles and legislation. The risk of unwelcome repercussions is especially apparent with paradata, which is often available in personal notes and commentaries and requires understanding and identifying actors who participated in data making and processing. A part of the problem is that as research shows, demands for exhaustive openness can paradoxically lead to reduced transparency when data creators and data creating communities feel necessary to mitigate actual and potential problems of increased disclosure. In the end, however, many of the typical objections against transparency do not necessarily imply that it needs to be abandoned as a goal but rather to consider what forms could be achievable and how (Elliott 2022).
This presentation discusses the limits and extents of process transparency drawing on on-going research in the research project CAPTURE (www.uu.se/en/research/capture). The findings point to that there can be, in different senses, problematic types of paradata and controversial kinds of openness and transparency depending on the frame of reference from which they are approached. Aligning the different views and landing on paradata that would be both FAIR’ful and CARE’ful might not be impossible but requires mitigation through architectural rather than disruptive forms of innovation (Henderson and Clark 1990) that seek to make not only paradata but its guiding principles interoperable with each other in both technical and social senses.
Elliott, Kevin C. 2022. “A Taxonomy of Transparency in Science.” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 52 (3): 342–55. https://doi.org/10.1017/can.2020.21.
Henderson, Rebecca M., and Kim B. Clark. 1990. “Architectural Innovation: The Reconfiguration of Existing Product Technologies and the Failure of Established Firms.” Administrative Science Quarterly 35 (1): 9–30. https://doi.org/10.2307/2393549.
Huvila, Isto. 2022. “Improving the Usefulness of Research Data with Better Paradata.” Open Information Science 6 (1): 28–48. https://doi.org/10.1515/opis-2022-0129.