Once a Romanist, now Associate Professor of Digital Humanities, Dept of History, Carleton U http://twitter.com/electricarchaeo http://carleton-ca.academia.edu/SMGraham

Open Context & Carleton University Prize for Archaeological Visualization

As the day of archaeology winds to a close, I find myself making promotional images and sample lesson plans for a contest that I cooked up with Eric Kansa. (I’m not very good at marketing. Or design. I’m an archaeologist, dammit!) Eric and Sarah Kansa run Open Context, a data repository for archaeological data. We were wondering how we could encourage more students and more folks interested in archaeology generally to explore the data and find the wonderful materials within. So we cooked up a contest. So, while I work on ways to help instructors use our contest pedagogically in their classrooms, I’ve taken the liberty of posting here more information about it, in case this interests you (and I hope it does!). Feel free to contact Eric or myself (@electricarchaeo)

The Contest

Open Context & Carleton Prize for Archaeological Visualization

Increasingly, archaeology data are being made available openly on the web. But what do these data show? How can we interrogate them? How can we visualize them? How can we re-use data visualizations?

We’d like to know. This is why we have created the Open Context and Carleton University Prize for Archaeological Visualization and we invite you to build, make, hack, the Open Context data and API for fun and prizes.

Who Can Enter?

Anyone! Wherever you are in the world, we invite you to participate. All entries will be publicly accessible and promoted via a context gallery on the Open Context website.

Sponsors

The prize competition is sponsored by the following:

  • The Alexandria Archive Institute (the nonprofit that runs Open Context)
  • The Digital Archaeology at Carleton University Project, led by Shawn Graham

Categories

We have prizes for the following categories of entries:

  • Individual entry: project developed by a single individual
  • Team entry: project developed by a collaborative group (2-3 people)
  • Individual student entry: project developed by a single student
  • Student team entry: project developed by a team of (2-3) students

Prizes

All prizes are awarded in the form of cash awards or gift vouchers of equivalent value. Depending on the award type, please note currency:

  • Best individual entry: $US200
  • Best team entry (teams of 2 or 3): $US300 (split accordingly)
  • Best student entry: $C200
  • Best student team entry (teams of 2 or 3): $C300 (split accordingly)

We will also note “Honorable Mentions” for each award category.

Entry Requirements

We want this prize competition to raise awareness of open data and reproducible research methods by highlighting some great examples of digital data in practice. To meet these goals, specific project entry requirements include the following:

  • The visualization should be publicly accessible/viewable, live on the open Web
  • The source code should be made available via Github or similar public software repository
  • The project needs to incorporate and/or create open source code, under licensing approved by the Free Software Foundation.
  • The source code must be well-commented and documented
  • The visualization must make use of the Open Context API; other data sources may also be utilized in addition to Open Context
  • A readme file should be provided (as .txt or .md or .rtf), which will include:
    • Instructions for reproducing the visualization from scratch must be included
    • Interesting observations about the data that the visualization makes possible
    • Documentation of your process and methods (that is to say, ‘paradata’ as per the London Charter, section 4)

All entries have to meet the minimum requirements described in ‘Entry Requirements’ to be considered.

Entries are submitted by filling a Web form (http://goo.gl/forms/stmnS73qCznv1n4v1) that will ask you for your particulars and the URL to your ‘live’ entry and the URL to your code repository. You will also be required to attest that the entry is your own creation.

Important Dates

  • Closing date for entry submissions: December 16, 2016
  • Winners announced: January 16, 2017

Criteria for Judging

  • Potential archaeological insight provided by the visualization
  • Reproducibility
  • Aesthetic impact
  • Rhetorical impact
  • Appropriate recognition for/of data stakeholders (creators and other publics)

Attention will be paid in particular to entries that explore novel ways of visualizing archaeological data, or innovative re-uses of data, or work that takes advantage of the linked nature of Open Context data, or work that enables features robust/reproducible code for visualizations that could be easily/widely applied to other datasets.

Judges

The judges for this competition are drawn from across the North America:

Resources

Sabbatical Games

This day of archaeology I’m on sabbatical. This does not mean, contrary to the popular belief amongst my family, that I’ll be sitting at the pool sipping margaritas.

I prefer rum and coke.

But seriously folks…

I’m gearing up for year two of the NEH Advanced Institute in Digital Archaeology at MSU. Over the winter the 30 participants have been learning various digital skills and outlooks, and creating some amazing projects. You should, once you’re finished with this site, go over and check out what this talented group have accomplished. My contribution this year will be to talk about failure. Failure is complicated, and like any good archaeologist, I’ll be using a taxonomy of fails to help the participants understand the ways a ‘fail’ can be turned around. This involves a bunch of text analysis of the participants blog posts & tweets from over the year (as a group, we’ve tweeted over 6000 times at one another, displaying in the open how we learn and support each other!)

A topic model sliced by post and user from the #msudai gang

So that’s the first thing I’m doing, gearing up for #MSUDAI yr 2.

I’ve also been working on ways of communicating the past that are playful and game-infected. Not necessarily games, but using game platforms or mechanics. Pokemon Go? Pshhaw. Here, build your own AR game! (These are the materials I put together for the first iteration of the Advanced Institute. Fork ’em! Build on ’em!)

This is a bit more exploratory, a bit more experimental. I’m not sure where it’s leading, but I’ll share it with you right now. For starters, I’m trying to keep an open research notebook of everything I get up to this sabbatical year at smgprojects.github.io. Somewhere along the line, I began transcribing a traveller’s diary to Egypt; the unnamed woman travelled through Europe in the autumn of 1874, on her way stopping at Pompeii and other wonderful places. I was interested at first because I wanted to see how she understood these places, what she looked for, how they affected her. I’ve been using various digital humanities’ type tools as I explore the diary. I’m also starting to explore how to share what I’m finding. I’ve even made a wee prototype of a smartphone or tablet app that’ll do this (although it’s very bare bones at the moment). If you’d like to try it out, go to my owncloud site and download and install the package (Android only at the moment; 22 mb). If you’d rather see it on your computer, you can download here for Mac, Windows, and Linux.

It’s a work in progress, but lots of fun. I might even sonify the topics in the diary someday, and add that to the mix. (sonify, you ask? basically, you find patterns in the use of words such that discrete-ish topics can be found; then you map the relative proportions of those topics against the 88 key keyboard. The results can be strangely compelling; if this sort of thing floats your boat, I wrote a tutorial here). In this digital day and age, I see no reason to always adhere to print-modes of scholarship.

And that’s what my sabbatical is all about, and that’s why this year’s Day of Archaeology finds me daydreaming about what might be…

(and lest ye think I’m not doing any so-called *proper* archaeology, I’m also doing research into the very dark world of the illegal trade in human remains with Damien Huffer, tracking and tracing some really nasty stuff. More on that later, perhaps).

 

On the Necessity of Being Practically Perfect In Every Way

Photo of an Emptied Piggy Bank, by Eden, Janine and Jim

Emptied Piggy Bank, by Eden, Janine and Jim

I had hoped that on this Day of Archaeology I’d be able to report to you from the field.

I had hoped I’d be able to tell you about a fantastic project that would be using augmented reality to understand something of the cognitive landscape of the Roman world, of how sound helped structure and order space in the landscape outside of Rome.

I had hoped to be sitting in a Roman bar typing this, frankly, rather than from the dreary fly-specked suburbs of southern Ottawa.

Alas, some things are not to be. There were 438 applications to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for archaeological funding, of which 97 received some coin. I’m sure they’re all excellent projects. Actually, they’d have to be because my scores were:

Challenge: 3.00 Good

Feasibility: 2.67 Very Good

Capability: 3.00 Good

Total Weighted Score: 2.93 Overall rating: Good

The lower the final score, the higher up the results you’d get. There are three categories of result: 4 (which means: funded!) 4a (which means: close but no cigar but if anybody drops dead, you might move up the list) and then the rest of us. So even if I had had two Very Goods and a Good I’d still be only on the reserve list.

To get the funding, you have to be Excellent on every axis. Practically Perfect in Every Way.

Mary Poppins, Archaeologist

On the one hand, this is a good thing. You only want the best, path-breaking, important research ideas to get a kick at the can when there’s only so many dollars to go around. On the other hand, it’s a bit frustrating, given the amount of time we all spend every year writing grant proposals (I reckon at least a month of otherwise productive research time goes to writing grant proposals, annually).

I can’t imagine it’s a cakewalk either for our peers who sit on the annual committees. I don’t envy them that job in the least. But if I can take any lesson from this year’s competition, it’s that I need to get out more. They release the names of everyone who sat on the various committees every year; it would probably be a good move for me to start attending more Canadian archaeology conferences (for Canadian, as opposed to say, Roman, archaeology rather than a conference happening in Canada) so that I become more of a known quantity within this country. If you can’t be perfect, being better known might get you over the hump.

At least, that’s my theory for now.

So, on this Day of Archaeology, I’m ruminating on other ways I can obtain the funding that would let me return to the field.

 

I hear dead people

I’m preparing for the upcoming Advanced Institute on Digital Archaeology Method and Practice at MSU. I’m really excited about it; I’m one of the instructors! I’ll be talking and teaching augmented reality for archaeology:

Low cost and low friction methods, tools, and best practices to capture and present archaeological materials in 3D for research, publication, teaching, or public engagement. Special emphasis on physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, digital imagery or geospatial data and information.

So what does that mean in practice? I was thinking on this the other day, and I’ve been building a demo application to put some of my ideas into practice. I’m tinkering with it during quiet moments today, but this ‘diary in the attic’ will give you some idea of the flavour of what I’m after:

Shawn dusted off the old diary. ‘Smells of mould’, he thought, as he flipped through the pages.

Hmmph. Somebody was pretty careless with their coffee.

I think it’s coffee.

Hmm.

Doesn’t smell like coffee. 

What the hell…. damn, this isn’t coffee.

Shawn cast about him, looking for the android digital spectralscope he kept handy for such occasions. Getting out his phone, he loaded the spectralscope up and, taking a safe position two or three feet away, gazed through it at the pages of the diary.

My god… it’s full of….

~o0o~

The thing about hand-held AR is that you have to account for *why*. Why this device? Why are you looking through it at a page, or a bill board, or a magazine, or what-have-you? It’s not at all natural. The various Cardboard-like viewers out there are a step up, in that they free the hands (and with the see-through camera, feel more Geordi LaForge).  I’m trying to make that hand-held AR experience feel more obvious, part of a story. That is, of course you reach for the spectralscope – the diary is clearly eldritch, something not right, and you need the device that helps you see beyond the confines of this world.

Without the story, it’s just gee-whiz look at what I can do. It’s somehow not authentic. That’s one of the reasons various museum apps that employ AR tricks haven’t really taken off I think. The corollary of this (and I’m just thinking out loud here) is that AR can’t be divorced from the tools and techniques of game based storytelling (narrative/ludology, whatever).

In the experience I put together above, I was trying out a couple of things. One – the framing with a story fragment, so that the story that emerges from the experience for you (gestures off to the left) is different from the story that emerges from the experience for you (gestures off to the right). (More on this here). I was also thinking about the kinds of things that could be augmented. I wondered if I could use a page of handwritten text. If I could, maybe a more self-consciously ‘scholarly’ use of AR could annotate the passages. Turns out, a page of text does not make a good tracking image. I used a macro in Gimp (comes prepackaged with Gimp) that adds a random waterstain/coffeestain to an image. The stained diary actually made the best tracking images I’ve ever generated! So maybe an AR annotated diary page could have such things discretely in the margins (but that takes us full circle to QR codes).

Augmented reality works best when it fits seamlessly into our interactions with the world. If you tried out the experience above (you needed to download and print out the pdf, and then install the app on your Android phone; point your phone at each page from about two to three feet away) you’ll see that I chose to augment via sound rather than whizbangy visual effects (although one such effect is really rather neat). We often think of our smartphones and tablets in terms of visuals (retina displays and so on), but the visual is only one sense; hearing the past via AR makes for a much more visceral experience. Visuals can cause ‘breaks-in-presence’ because when things are ‘wrong’ somehow, it is immediately apparent. We get kicked out of the experience easily when the 3d model doesn’t sit on the page correctly, or it flickers because the phone isn’t powerful enough. Audio on the other hand requires us to pay attention in a way that is more subtle. Generations of movies have taught us how to respond emotionally to certain sounds. So I want to experiment with an aural augmented reality for archaeology. That’s my agenda here.

Another element in the calculus of AR is framing the approach. One of the things I tell my history students who are interested in video games, the mechanic of the game should be illustrative of the kind of historical truth they are trying to tell. William Urrichio pointed out in 2005 that game mechanics map well onto various historiographies. What kind of truth then does an augmented reality application tell? In the very specific case of what I’ve been doing here, augmenting an actual diary (a trip up the Nile, from New York, starting in 1874), I’m put in mind of the diaries of William Lyon MacKenzie King, who was Prime Minister of Canada during the Second World War. King was a spiritualist, very much into seances and communing with the dead (his mom, mostly). I can imagine augmenting his ‘professional life’ (meeting minutes, journals, newspaper accounts), with his diaries such that his private life swirls and swoops through the public persona, much like the ghosts and spirits that he and his friends invoked on a regular basis. King was also something of a landscape architect; his private retreat in the Gatineau Hills(now a national historic site) are adorned with architectural follies (see this photo set) culled from gothic buildings torn down in the city of Ottawa. MacKenzie King might well be a subject whose personal history, or whose historic estate, might be very well suited indeed for an exploration via augmented reality.

After all, the man lived an augmented reality daily.

~o0o~

If you’re interested in finding out more about how to use AR or how to build your own, watch my research blog. I’ll be putting up some tutorials in a couple weeks. I’d love to connect with folks interested in trying out similar things.

[parts of this post are nicked from my research blog, Electric Archaeology; you can also find the credits for the augmentations there].

 

This Post Will Change Your Life!


I’m a digital archaeologist. But I’m also on extended childcare duties at the moment. Lemme tell you, that’s a lot of work. But, hey – you’re “working” from “home” aren’t you? Aren’t you just sitting in your underwear surfing the web?

What if I was? Would I find anything interesting or useful about archaeology?

Maybe. Maybe not. One of the things I’m actually working on right now is a book about big data for history. I’m not a historian, but I am used to the idea of layers, and a ‘big data’ outlook is just one more layer. So – what do you actually see if you start looking at the structure of knowledge about archaeology on the internet?

I’ve submitted an article recently along those lines; here’s the abstract:

“Increasingly, if we wish to make signal in the noise of the internet, we need to understand its emergent structures and its non-human actors. Every world wide web looks different; there is no ‘one’ web. What we see, what we find, what we are exposed to, is a result of the web looking back at us, giving us what we ‘want’. When we blog, we enter into a game of influence and diffusion over various network structures. In this paper, I examine some of the ways we share authority with our algorithms to create an archaeological blog-o-sphere, a universe of archaeological knowledge which intersects yet remains parallel to, other universes of knowledge. I map the effectiveness of our archaeological blog-o-sphere. I conclude by arguing that algorithmic agency, where algorithms interact with other algorithms in unforeseen and undesirable ways, will foster (needs to foster) a return to the human curated web, albeit in partnership with our former servants, the algorithms.”

One thing that I saw in the maps of archaeological knowledge created were the invasive tendrils of advertising and monitoring. The rise of clickbait, as parodied in the tweets yesterday morning (reproduced above) are killing the web, like a creeping vine slowly strangling its host tree. Digital parasitism, decay, and death. Themes I’ll be exploring. (If you’re interested, I spoke earlier this year on all this, slides are at: Shouting into the void by Shawn)

So that’s what I’m doing on this Day of Archaeology, writing about the shape of archaeological knowledge, changing diapers, and if I’m lucky, I’ll be allowed to play in the sandbox with my son.

Making Sausage

All of my days, lately, revolve around the sleep and play needs of toddlers and preschoolers. That means, that on any given day (including a day of archaeology), I have approximately 1 hour in the morning (before kids get up) and 2 hours in the afternoon (nap time) and however long I want to stay up after supper, to get through everything that needs doing.

Right now, we have nappage happening, so I’m taking the time to write this post. I looked over the previous entries I made on earlier days of archaeology. Seems a lot of my professional life revolves around the problems of juggling children (don’t try that at home?). In the winter, I teach, and my days are much more typical. I haven’t done fieldwork in ages, so my summers are mostly writing and course development, and meetings.

God, are there ever a lot of meetings.

In September, I’m teaching a course on video games and simulations for historians (I’m a digital archaeologist emerging from classical archaeology who lives in a department of history where the focus is on public history and canadian history, for the most part). It’s a great course (but I would say that) – it confronts their notions of what history is and how we communicate it. I made some promo material for it (which should be embedded below; if not, try the link):

and an interactive fiction version (again, it should be embedded below; if not, try the link):

I’m also going to teach a full year seminar course on the illicit antiquities trade, and a third year course on visualizing big data for historians. This last one could be very exciting, as it’ll use the book that I’ve been writing with Scott Weingart and Ian Milligan. We decided to write the book in public, warts-and-all, since it was about digital methods – we wanted/needed instant feedback, to get things right, rather than wait for reviews years after publication! (Indeed, fixing citations and tracing down image rights is what I’m supposed to be doing right now). We signed the contract this time last year, and I think by next week we’ll be ready to send the complete manuscript (some 92 000 words) to the publisher. It’s been a bit like making sausage – you enjoy the final product, but it can be a bit stomach-churning to watch ’em being made.

For my money, that’s one of the most important things though about something like Day of Archaeology, or any public archaeology / history project. Folks need to see how it all works, not just the pretty stuff we offer up at the end. Without understanding the process, how can anyone trust the knowledge?

That pretty much sums up my philosophy of teaching, too – everything in public. If any of this interests you, follow me on twitter this fall to see what my students get up to.

….ah nuts. Kids are up. There goes my two hours.

Take this course!


Put down that trowel and pass me the mouse: on digital archaeology

Can you guess what it is yet?

There are at least 7 dead emperors, 3 dead kings, 2 dead queens, some dead generals, and one wonderdog following me on Twitter.

This is an occupational hazard, when you put ‘digital archaeologist’ on your business card. Any day of archaeology for me involves standing up at my standing desk, pounding the keyboard in frustration as something that should work, at least in theory, does not. But what on earth do I do? Here’s the quick version:

Archaeology generates incredible volumes of information. A lot of that information is in fact information about the information.  The description of the relationship between two contexts? The description of a subgroup of contexts? The spatial and chronological patterns? When the excavation is over, all we’ve got are our records. What I’m working on right now are ways of mining that data (and especially its metadata) for new insights. I’ve recently come back from the world digital humanities shindig, #DH2013 in Lincoln Nebraska. There was an entire session devoted to digital archaeology there; I presented a paper called ‘topic modeling space and time‘.

Topic modeling is a technique that uncovers patterns in unstructured text. It’s a kind of unsupervised clustering routine. Tell the computer, ‘go find me 15 topics in this data, and tell me the relative percentages of each topic in each context record’. This lets me see patterns in the ways the archaeologists themselves worked with the original data whilst excavating.

Very meta. I don’t do much field work any more; hard to do much Roman stuff when I’m here in the Ottawa Valley. But I think I’m finding ways of pulling out meaningful patterns from old excavation notes. You can see – and hear – for yourself where I’m going with all of this at the website for our session. One of the things that is coming out, though there is some disagreement amongst those with whom I’ve shared these thoughts, is the voice of the individual excavators again. The final monograph, the final site report, is always written in a kind of vanilla pablum-esque-ese (to coin a word) that glosses over all of the personalities and social factors that go into that great cauldron, the excavation project (especially the academic ones). I’d like to figure out ways of returning some of the subjective bits back into things.

That’s what this digital archaeologist has been working on, on this day of archaeology, when there was a down moment. Next week, I gear up for back-to-school in September. I’ve got two classes to write more-or-less from scratch. One, ‘Roman Archaeology for Historians’, will have a significant open access portion to it – feel free to drop in, or ping me for more details.

Looted Heritage

Earlier today, I mentioned that one of the nice things about digital work was that, well, I could timeshift as necessary. So now, with kids in bed, and a quiet moment, I return to another project of mine that I’ve been working on since January – Looted Heritage.

This isn’t funded, or part of anything larger – just one guy and some students, as time and energy allow. I started this project partly as an exercise in some of my classes, but partly out of an interest in the shady side of the interest in the human past – the market for illicit antiquities. By some counts, it’s the third largest black market out there, after drugs and guns. With Looted Heritage, we use the Ushahidi platform to grab and monitor tweets, blogs, news aggregators, and various social media streams for notices of looting, cultural heritage vandalism, or other items of interest. We turn these into reports, and pin them to the map. Periodically, we download all of this information (and you can too!) and mine this data for trends in this market.  There’s an ios and android app available too, so if one happened across a field where tombaroli were active, you could snap a pic and send it to us.

We’ve already written up our results from the first quarter of 2012 here; our data is all there too if you’d like to explore it. If you’d like to keep an eye out for anything happening in the illicit antiquities market, it’d be great if you could submit reports on Looted Heritage. They say ‘many eyes make for better code’; many eyes can also help bring the illicit trade into the light.

You should also take a look at WikiLoot and Loot Busters, who are working with more of the primary materials related to this trade. Me, as a digital guy, well I’m sifting the dirt of social media…

A Digital Archaeology Day

It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten my fingernails dirty, drank a cup of cold tea in a trench, or gotten lost trying to find some site that was last visited in the 1960s. Yep, not much call for a Romanist here in the Ottawa Valley. Fortunately what there is call for, is a ‘digital archaeologist’.

Learn more about Canada’s Greatest Culture* at Canadian Geographic! http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/magazine/so05/indepth/
*I’m biased, yes.

…and what is that, exactly?

Archaeologists have always been at the forefront in riding the latest technology in the pursuit of better understanding of the past. It’s not for nothing that you’re reading a post on a website called ‘Day of Archaeology’, rather than ‘Day of Sociology’ or ‘Day of Canadian History’. So what do I do? I’m not a GIS guy, or a database guy. I’m in the history department at Carleton as their ‘digital humanities’ guy, so I try to work through what new media imply for both the doing of history/archaeology and for our understanding of history/archaeology. I normally blog what I’m up to over at Electric Archaeology and I’d be pleased if you went over there and took a look. Topic Modeling, Agent Based Simulation, Game Based Learning, Augmented Reality, Crowdsourcing, Open Peer Review… all these things are in my baliwick.

Today, I’m lesson planning for the fall. My philosophy of teaching has always been to get students doing real work, in the sense that all assignments always contribute to the generation of knowledge. I try to find projects to which their formative and summative assessment exercises may contribute. I’m off in a few minutes to meet the University Archivist, to see if we can use my class (ca 200 students) to crowdsource online transcription and annotation of documents and photographs.

Then, I’m looking into buying an autonomous aerial drone for survey work and photography. I want to use the photographs to create 3d immersive worlds that other archaeologists or the public may then explore, for both outreach and research. Then, polishing up an agent-based simulation of Greek amphorae imitation practices.

But, given that it’ll be over 30 C today, I think I’ll just end up taking the kids to the river to play, and I’ll come back to my work in the cool of the evening. That’s one nice thing about being a digital archaeologist – I really can time-shift my hours. On the downside, no regular archaeologist I think has ever had months and months of their work destroyed in an instant, as I did earlier this year.

Above is yours truly talking about some augmented reality + museum cataloguing I did with my first year students this past spring.

 

Seeing with archaeological eyes

2.30 am. Change diaper. Feed baby.

4.00 am. Change diaper. Feed baby.

6.00 am. Tell toddler to go back to sleep. Change diapers just in case. Fed the cat… or was that the baby? Woops, put diapers on the cat.

8.00 am. Go to work.

Having a baby and a toddler has completely changed our lives. It’s also changed the material culture of our house. Diapers! Who knew they came in so many different varieties? What is common to all of them is that they are branded. Here an Elmo, there a Big Bird, woops, here’s a Dora and Diego… These are the things I notice in the early morning, as I sing ‘Morningtown Ride‘ for the umpteenth time. Does the branding go with age? Is there a gender difference? In the store, do Elmos get better shelf space than Oscars? There’s certainly a spatial component within our house…

Archaeology isn’t just a job, it’s a way of seeing the world.  You start to look for patterns, you start to see patterns, in places where others see nothing at all. You wonder why is it that *this* building faces *that* way, when the rest of the street seems to be on a different alignment. You stand in forest clearings and notice the presence of lilac bushes, indicating an abandoned farmhouse. It’s a bit like poker – the landscape, the social environment, all have little tells, and we’re trained to see ’em.

I’m now the first – and only – archaeologist in my department at my University. We’ve got a long hallway on the top floor of the building. There’s no common area (if you don’t count the stair landing). The layout of the department reflects the way that historians have often traditionally worked – in isolation. The contrast with the archaeology department at Reading (where I did my PhD work) is striking. There, all of the offices and work spaces are arranged around a communal atrium. From one office door you can see pretty much anyone else’s door, and the workrooms – and the doors have windows in them.

Atrium in the Reading University Archaeology Department

I’m still new here at Carleton. There are other archaeologists squirreled away in other departments, somewhere on this vast sprawling campus. I really must make contact, some day.

On the other hand, being the only archaeologist amongst the historians means that my archaeological eyes are seeing things they wouldn’t otherwise see, which has its benefits! One of which is a project I’m working on this morning, ‘HeritageCrowd’, a project using the Ushahidi crisis-mapping platform to solicit memories and knowledge of the historic landscape. It’s a crowd-sourced map of the tangible and intangible memories and erasures in this region. Of course, the map is as wide as the world, so if anyone else wanted to use it in their own neck of the woods, there’s no reason they couldn’t – please check it out!  This project is an outcome of the great conversations I’ve been having with the oral history folks and public history folks here at Carleton.

My student assistants and I were to go out to the ruins of the Ottawa Electric Company, (Google map pic) but it looks like we’ll have to reschedule. In which case, I guess I’ll spend the rest of my day planning my syllabi for next year’s courses: Digital Antiquity; The Historian’s Craft; and Augmented Reality & Public History.

 

HeritageCrowd.org Screenshot