Sunday, 4 January 2015

2015 Intro to our "I-ing the Past:Digital Archaeology and Digital Heritage" Course Blog



Greetings, and Happy New Year!

So this is our course blog for this wintery part of 2015. Second time round you would think I have a good handle on how the course will proceed, but I find that I am still struggling to come up with the specifics of the course. There are a number of challenges to something like this course, because the subject matter could be, well, anything in the early 21st century to do with archaeological practice and theory! In a sense, then, we get to define what Digital Archaeology means to us as we work our way through this course.

That is not to say there are no examples out there to follow. In fact, "Digital Archaeology" as a concept on the web has been used in very different ways, ranging from "excavating " and re-discovering lost or abandoned web pages and content, to photographic analysis, to various kinds of data mining, to oral history projects, to, yup, archaeology. In fact, when I Google the phrase "Digital Archaeology" (DA) I get more about digital archaeology of the internet or in computers, than I do in doing archaeology digitally, which is surprising, since Google tends to tailor searches based on user preferences.

But I think that DA is more than just a clever term for web based exploration, exhibition, and data mining. For us in archaeology, it is a not well explored dimension of practice that changes practice as it is being employed in practice. From making data accessible, to how it is presented, to engaging with wider audiences, to others using that data, to all the issues of loss, distortion, and mis-representation, I think there are implications to archaeology becoming digital that are worth considering, especially since we are actually trying to go in this direction at Western and at Sustainable Archaeology (SA). So that is what I'm hoping we get to explore and become a little wiser about in this course.

There are, of course, people who blog about digital archaeology (the way we are going to talk about it) and a digital heritage. For some early examples, here are some blog pages worth checking out:

Shawn Graham is the closest in Canada to advancing a Digital Archaeology. It is interesting that he tends to overlap a Digital Archaeology and a Digital Humanities, but that is likely a function of where he works (History dept at Carleton). His blog page is worth reviewing, cuz many ideas he raises we will be talking about:

Bill Turkel is a History Prof here at western, and very much all about Digital history and humanities. His blog is a very helpful exploration of how things like databases, web sites, etc. work, and is written for people who are not computer scientists. Worth checking out:


Lorna Richardson is a PhD student at UCL who is interested in the social media and public engagement dimensions within the Internet. Her blog is more exploring these concepts than how-tos, and nicely explores a range of issues we'll no doubt be spending a fair amount of time on in this class:


Nicolò dell'unto is a PhD Student at Stanford, I believe working with Ian Hodder, and very much interested in the 3D virtual representation of site locales and artifacts. He is mostly working on data from Catalhoyök and other such sites in exploring how to create 3D representations, working through meshes, etc. He is the dominant contributor to a blog that offers a little how-to, and a lot of cool videos:

Doug Rocks-MacQueen maintains a web page that is fairly diverse, but has a lot to do with digital archaeology, and offers a good source of sites to explore:


Sustainable Archaeology lastly, we do have a blog page, but ours is not too informative, and more about us stumbling along and trying to figure out what and how we get to do things:

Well, that's it for now. Please start cruising the internet and add pages you think are worth looking at in posts. That’s a good way, too, for you to start planning what you might like to post about, which you should consider start doing as of now. I've left up a few posts from last class as a bit of an example, but anything from links that inspire... or anger... you, to cutting edge technologies, to cool toys being announced at CES 2015, to online exhibits, etc., are all fair game to talk about, though try keeping within the confines of the course itself… the challenge of a Digital Archaeology, as is the challenge of the digital age, is being overwhelmed with information and not really knowing what to do with it.

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