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!