IfA Conference Recap

Posted on April 25, 2012

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Last week while most of North America was at the SAA conference, well many of its archaeologists, I was at the IfA conference in Oxford. It was a good conference and I got to see some of the Oxford campus, we were at the town hall next to it. The campus is as amazing as you see on TV or in the movies.

But back to the conference. I presented the first day at the Where is IT all Going 2 session. The session was really good and I recommend you check out the wiki. http://ifa-information-management-sig.wikispaces.com/Where%27s+IT+All+Going+2%3F

My presentation was on how to create a website in 10mins. Which was an interactive session in which I and the audience build a website in under ten minutes or at least it was suppose to be. The Wifi died moments before I was going to build a website with weebly (a online website builder). Luckily, I saw this coming and made a screencast of the process before hand so I ended up playing a video of process. Of course the Wifi came back during the tea break and I made the website then. You can see it here- http://witg2.weebly.com/ 4 pages in 10 mins, not bad. I will be making some edits to the sceencast and post it here in the next few days so you too can make a website in under 10 mins.

The rest of the session was very interesting and great to see. Lots of geeking out about the future of tech. and archaeology. Interesting presentation of results of a survey too. I recommend you look at it, its on the wiki.

The next day I saw the session on Southport (big ideas for the new laws about heritage management being put together at the moment in England) which was very different. It was a debate about various issues surrounding the proposals with one person taking one side and another taking the opposing view. After each ‘debate’ questions were asked and the crowd was polled. It looked like the better speaker usually was able to sway the crowd. Very interesting format and one that I would like to see more at conferences.

The afternoon session I attended was the Ivory Tower of Academia and Commercial Archaeology. Some interesting presentations were mixed in there. The debate was also very good. One of the speakers made the statement that universities train students how to think not skills for the real world. I bit my tongue and did not point out that they actually fail miserably at teaching students how to “think”. I would add in myself in that category as well, at least my class based work, the field is another story. One of my major concern with this attitude was brought up the next day in the session on graphics and surveying when one of the audience members pointed out “Yes, employers will train you in skills BUT if you don’t have any skills they will never hire you in the first place“. This was is response to a discussion about professional development and training relating to illustrators and surveyors. Lots of lively discussion around that subject. That session also had presentations by fellow bloggers Sarah and Lorna, both of which were excellent. I won’t say to much about their presentations in case they want to blog about it themselves.

A theme throughout most of the sessions I attended was trying to obtain training for archaeologists, either new to the field or a 20 year veteran. Interesting to see in anything happens in the next year on that.

Overall good conference, more so because of the people you meet and talk to. However many of the presentations were good as well.

Posted in: Wildcard