Digital Engagement in Archaeology

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Clip from Digital Attica project: 2-evaluate, Swansea University

I have been attending the “Digital Engagement in Archaeology” conference at the Institute of Archaeology in London. There were some excellent papers, and constructive “tweetenvironment“. I was asked to chair one of the panels and to sum up today’s papers (along with Professor Gary Lock, School of Archaeology, Oxford University).

I had to reflect on audience. One of the things that I gained from my Swansea undergraduate and postgraduate students was that however good the technology was, if they could not see the value, then they would not be keen to use it. So we need to be pragmatic about how we use technology. My Swansea postgraduate students on my “Digital Antiquity” module made me realise that we have to anticipate changes in the technology. We need to learn how to evaluate and to apply to our research and our projects.

Mobile computing has changed. How many people at the conference would have had an iPad (or smartphone) a year (or two) ago? How did the virtual interactions enhance the papers? Did those tweets lead to (unexpected) face to face interactions? For example, I had a helpful discussion about authority and reliability of Twitter. Do we expect Twitter to be “reliable” – or dies it point us to reliable Web 2.0 sites?

Open Access was a major theme with a very positive presentation from Ubiquity Press who publish Papers from the Institute of Archaeology. Will future REF exercises insist on Open Access? There was related discussion about IPR, not least over the publication of e-offprints on personal websites.

There were great insights into the use of social media, in particular Facebook, to engage with archaeological projects. Those interested in crowdsourcing and crowdfunding should look at the DigVentures project at Flag Fen.

On a final note I was struck with the inspirational quality of the “Adopt-a-Monument” scheme from Archaeology Scotland. It brought the best of Web 2.0 and community archaeology together.

Are archaeologists creating digital environments and engaging with new audiences? The workshop clearly showed that they are.

When is the next meeting?

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