Technology and Archaeology: A Difference of time

Posted on August 24, 2011


For my research I have been looking at the various agent based modeling software programs available. There are quite a few out there, I have looked at around 80 so far, and I am having  filter my list down. One of the criteria for filtering is if the model or website has been updated in the last 2 years (really 2011). If not, it probably means that the software is unsupported and has been left to die and go on to software heaven.

This has got me thinking about publishing in archaeology and how current time scales are just not sufficient for work involving new technologies. 1 year and a software is dead but that is about the time it takes to get most papers published in archaeology. Books are even worse! One, I just read, was created out of a conference hosted in 2002 but the book was not published till 2006.

The book I recommended as the greatest book a new archaeologists could buy took roughly 5 years from idea to publication. That is from the class which is was based on till its release this last winter. Furthermore, the open access book I recently posted about, took several years from the conference to publication.

If archaeology is going to be serious about incorporating technology into our work we have got to improve publishing times or create different avenues of publishing. If not everything we publish will already be obsolete and maybe useless.

I actually do not think the peer review process is the best avenue for this since technology advances so fast. Really publications, in this case, are just the first experiments with new technologies. You can’t really review a test into something new or that is a basic exploration since there is no previous literature to draw on. Probably an online newsletter or group blog would be the best. A place were someone could publish a few hundred, maybe a couple of thousands, words on what they tried and how it worked out. Get it up in a couple of hours or days while the technology is still relevant.

Just my thoughts.

Posted in: Wildcard