It Belongs on the Internet – Communicating Archaeology Online

Posted on October 7, 2015

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Image of Donna presenting Coning

A month ago I was in Glasgow for the EAA conference. As per my modus operandi I filmed some of the sessions. Here is a session I put together with Tristan and Chris. I might be biased but this is a great bunch of presentations. Donna might take home the best conference paper title too- “Does Anyone Really Think that A Raised Plinth will Deter Drunk Glaswegians?”. If you are interested in more conference videos than see Recording Archaeology and subscribe there to receive updates when more videos become available.

CA13 It Belongs on the Internet: Communicating Archaeology Online

Mr.Tristan Boyle, Landward LLC. Mr.Chris Webster, Digtech LLC

Social media is a complete and utter mess, stringing together marketing strategies, rants about sports or news or politics, and pictures of food. Often our Facebook feeds are scattered with adverts alongside what’s happening in our friend’s lives but what about the pages we like? What place does social media have for archaeology? Is social media just for headlines, for news or discovery? Or can we develop online archaeology to bring fresh perspectives to the public and discipline? Should we be interpreting at the tweet’s edge? Serious issues in archaeology need a platform, like the discussion of legislation’s effect on archaeology and cultural heritage, is social media that platform? This session will focus on presenting online archaeology through any media, whether it is on Youtube, in podcast form or other on other platforms. We are calling for papers describing experiences and thoughts on this form of outreach. Any perspective on online archaeology i.e. Blogging, Podcasting, Social Networking, Crowd Sourcing, Crowd Funding, Wikis, email lists, or anything that involves digital engagement, from all over the world is welcomed.

It Belongs on the Internet: Communicating Archaeology Online- Introduction

Tristan Boyle

Social media is a complete and utter mess, stringing together marketing strategies, rants about sports or news or politics, and pictures of food. Often our Facebook feeds are scattered with adverts alongside what’s happening in our friend’s lives but what about the pages we like? What place does social media have for archaeology? Is social media just for headlines, for news or discovery? Or can we develop online archaeology to bring fresh perspectives to the public and discipline? Should we be interpreting at the tweet’s edge? Serious issues in archaeology need a platform, like the discussion of legislation’s effect on archaeology and cultural heritage, is social media that platform? This session will focus on presenting online archaeology through any media, whether it is on Youtube, in podcast form or other on other platforms. We are calling for papers describing experiences and thoughts on this form of outreach. Any perspective on online archaeology i.e. Blogging, Podcasting, Social Networking, Crowd Sourcing, Crowd Funding, Wikis, email lists, or anything that involves digital engagement, from all over the world is welcomed.

Explorations of New Approaches to Online Public Outreach Archaeology in the Age of Pseudoscience

Alexis Jordan
UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MILWAUKEE
The growing number of diverse free online media platforms have to some extent, democratized the ability to share one’s content with the wider world. The Internet has become a tool for the dissemination of both professional and alternative archaeological content. Consequently archaeology found on the Web ranges from professional to avocational, to blatant pseudoscientific appropriation and misrepresentation. The online prevalence and accessibility of misrepresentations of archaeology increase the probability that pseudoscientific content may serve as the public’s most likely exposure to the discipline. The long-term consequences of this trend are likely to involve the growth of negative perceptions regarding the validity and importance of archaeological research. As academic disciplines must increasingly justify their existence and relevancy to the wider world, such perceptions can have far reaching impacts. The question is no longer should archaeologists address this phenomenon, but how. In an effort to address this phenomenon, I will explore proactive rather than reactive responses to the proliferation of online pseudoarchaeology through the generation of new approaches to online public outreach archaeology endeavors. These include: the centralization and promotion of online archaeology resources; archaeologists as public figures utilizing online social and news medias; and updating and expanding quantitative survey studies to obtain better insight into public perceptions and interests in archaeology. Only through improved communication efforts in web-based medias can we hope to communicate with larger portions of the population and better articulate the realities and significance of professional archaeology.

Developing a guidebook to help archaeologists create “good” websites

Lisa Catto, Virginia Butler
PORTLAND STATE UNIVERSITY

Websites have become a relatively common way to share findings from archaeological research with the public. They are easily adaptable, can reach a wide audience (e.g. location, age, education levels), and can supplement other outreach programs. What makes a “good” one? Answering this requires that one has established goals; and that one has developed ways to assess whether the goals have been met. In our background research, explicit goal-setting and assessment of archaeological based websites has scarcely been attempted. We recognize that archaeologists may not have formal training in public relations and public outreach, nor can many projects afford to outsource these services. Therefore we are developing a guidebook to help archaeologists create “good” websites. This tool will help website builders establish goals for the site and use those goals as a guide to develop its content. The guidebook will explain how to work within budgetary, skill and time constraints to create a website of an appropriate and manageable scale. It will cover several software options (e.g. WordPress, Dreamweaver, Weebly) and how to choose what is appropriate for your project. Drawing on previous social media and education research, we will share instruments to assess whether the goals have been met (e.g., visitor tracking, focus groups, and online surveys) in order to further refine the website.

Experiences of online archaeology – the urban excavation of the early modern town of Nya Lödöse

Clara Alfsdotter
BOHUSLÄNS MUSEUM /VÄSTARVET

The excavation of the town of Nya Lödöse is the largest urban archaeological excavation ever undertaken in West Sweden. The town was active between 1473 and 1624 and was situated where Gothenburg lies today. The archaeological project has been ongoing for more than two years and is nowhere near drawing to a close. This has given us the unique opportunity to engage in a long-term public outreach programme with updates straight from the field. The public project is forefront in Swedish archaeology, and is widely recognized. Aside from physical guided tours, a series of paper magazines, developing teaching materials for schools and organizing theme days, information material etc., we have a strong focus on communicating through different social media, as well as our own webpage. I will discuss our experiences of using Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and our webpage to directly reach a vast public. Our aim is to develop a transparent and easily accessible archaeology for society at large, and not merely a project that goes on behind closed doors until the final line is written.

Traditionally archaeologists have operated everything themselves within projects, however we are glad to have engaged professionals from other fields, such as photographers, web designers and editorial staff. Our transparency towards the public has generated goodwill, which has not only helped us gain interest from locals, but has also helped us become more attractive within the field of contract archaeology. For archaeology to be legitimate, communication is of the greatest importance!

Podcasting Archaeology – a Tool for Starting Conversations and Education

Chris Webster
DIGTECH LLC

Since the first podcasts were available on Apple’s iTunes in June of 2005, podcasting has become a powerful way for anyone to deliver information to the world from the comfort of their home. Podcasts can be informal conversations to expensive productions from major networks. Archaeology podcasting has seen shows come and go and has had a rocky past. The only podcast focused on issues related to CRM Archaeology has been recording since February of 2013 and has tackled everything from ethics on the job to issues specific to women in archaeology and in the workplace. We’ve found that podcasting is a great way to engage with thousands of professionals and the public alike. We don’t run conversations, we start them. Podcasting is a medium that is here to stay and the archaeological community should recognize it as a valuable and useful resource.

“Does Anyone Really Think that A Raised Plinth will Deter Drunk Glaswegians?” Traffic Cone Preservation and the Online Democratisation of Heritage

Donna Yates1, Gavin M. Doig2
1UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW, 2LAY SCHOLAR

For 30 years Glaswegians have, through pouring rain and drunken hazes, bravely scaled a Duke of Wellington statue to place a traffic cone on his head. The cone-ing of the statue has come to symbolise many of the qualities that residents see in themselves: cheeky fun, delight in the absurd, and not taking anything unnecessarily seriously. Wellington-plus-cone is emblazoned on mugs and T-shirts and is a stop on bus tours. The cone has become a salient part of Glasgow’s identity. In 2013 when the City Council announced plans to spend thousands of pounds to prevent the cone-ing, we were shocked. We discuss how an online petition by the authors (who probably had better things to do) turned what would’ve once been an unseen planning decision into an international media storm. Within 24 hours we had 10,000+ signatures and the council relented. In this example of the success of direct action for preservation of heritage we believe the digital medium is what is important, especially because the heritage in question was threatened by the body tasked with protecting it. Online, signers were able to leave long comments articulating exactly what made the cone important. Rather than leaving heritage to be defined by those in power, the internet is a means for alternative, wildly popular conceptions of identity to be factored into planning decisions. We believe that despite the puns and silly photos the Glasgow Cone was a challenge to opaque decision making and a call for a more democratic heritage preservation process.

Live from the trenches – The Social Media Presence of the Meillionydd Excavation, Wales, United Kingdom

Katharina Moeller
BANGOR UNIVERSITY
Since 2010, Bangor University has been conducting excavations at the Late Bronze – Iron Age double ringwork enclosure of Meillionydd near Rhiw on the Llyn peninsula in North-West Wales (UK). In the same year a website (http://meillionydd.bangor.ac.uk/ ) and a Facebook page (http://facebook.com/meillionydddig ) were created; these have been continually used to share our research through social media. Furthermore, in 2014, a twitter account (https://twitter.com/Meillionydddig ) was set up to share the latest news live from the trenches. Maintaining an internet presence of any kind is a lot of work. It needs to be updated regularly and new content has to be created to keep the audience interested. While it might be easy enough to post regular news while excavating over the summer, it is much harder to create new content during the winter when there are no spectacular new finds to share. After more than five years of maintaining a social media presence, we have consulted our Facebook statistics and conducted a survey to see if and how our social media activities have paid off. Who are the people that we reached via the internet? Why
did they decide to follow our work and, most importantly, what can we do to maintain or increase their interest in archaeology?

Archaeology in the virtual: Day of Archaeology 2015 in Poland

Alicja Piślewska, Michał Pawleta
INSTITUTE OF PREHISTORY

Popularization and social comprehension of archaeology in Poland is now beginning to be a popular issue. A project of virtual
event of Day of Archaeology, regarding additionally newest ways of communication via tools of web 2.0. area., is trying to answer this growing social interest in archaeology. Our paper presents a summary of project outcomes and evaluation of its organization. It discuss the preparation phase of this event which has preceded the culmination point held in June 2015, namely the Day of Archeology. Taking into account the need of examination of trends appearing in social way of comprehension and desired way of exposition of the past, we also carried an online survey in which we asked respondents if they have ever taken part in only virtual event. Furthermore we have also researched the background of popularization of archaeology in Poland in the past. We underline pros and cons of the whole process, and define our ideas in the light of gained experience for the next year edition of the virtual Day of Archaeology event. For now we are operating within international European project NEARCH, which assumes culmination point of the Day of Archeology undertaking in 2016, but our goal is to initiate Day of Archaeology as an annual event serving popularization of archaeology within widely ranged Polish society.

Digital Public Archaeology in Italy: what is changing and why it is important

Domenica Pate, Antonia Falcone, Paola Romi
INDEPENDENT RESEARCHER

At the beginning of 2013 a structured network of archaeologists who focused on the popularisation and online communication of archaeology was still missing in Italy. Since then much has changed, with old and new ventures trying to make up for deeply felt deficiencies in the way archaeology is communicated to the wider public, off- and online.

The ever growing network of Italian “archaeobloggers”, as they called themselves from an idea by Cinzia Dal Maso, met for the first time during the XVI Mediterranean Exchange of Archaeological Tourism in 2013: the declared goal was not only to take stock of the situation, but also to decide upon shared objectives. As a result, they organised participation in the fourth Day of Archaeology and from that experience a new editorial project ensued, “Archaeostories. Unconventional Handbook of Experiencing Archaeology”, edited by Cinzia Dal Maso and Francesco Ripanti, that will be released in March 2015 and is thought as a trait-d’union between off- and online experiences in communicating archaeology.

Simultaneously, Italian archaeobloggers became aware of their role in giving voice, alongside professional associations, to the day-by-day issues of archaeologists all over the country, taking part in the ongoing debate about the profession and workers’ rights.

This paper will outline the changes made in communicating Italian archaeology online and describe how in Italy the Internet is becoming more and more the framework in which to address concerns about the profession as well as a fruitful laboratory for the inception of spontaneous and organised communication experiments.

 

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