I have two archaeological hats to wear, I am a Partner in L – P : Archaeology and I am also undertaking a PhD at UCL.
It is an amazing position to be in and the straddling of the academic and commercial world really makes my archaeological life interesting and the constant crossover gives some pretty cool insights into how things work together. That and my five-week old kid means I am pretty busy most of the time!
Today I am sitting in both seats. This morning I have been working on the PhD, I am looking at using Augmented Reality (AR) to aid in Phenomenological Investigation of Landscapes. What that means in the real world is that I get to play with iPads and gaming-engines, making archaeological information appear in the landscape. AR is slowly becoming a widely-used technique (especially in the advertising world) and indeed many archaeologists are getting in on the act. The Museum of London has just released StreetMuseum Londinium which allows users to wander around the streets of London with their smart-phone, ‘seeing’ where various artefacts, etc. have been discovered. Today I have been attempting to move some of my AR work over to a new SDK released for iOS by Qualcomm to aid in marker-based AR. Ideally later today or at the weekend I will take the iPad out into the landscape (the local park with my boy in his buggy) and actually make some stuff appear outside – instead of having to sit at the computer futzing around. Before I do that though, I have to get my head around quaternion mathematics, accelerometers and gyroscopes, then meshing this all with GPS and vision-based analysis. It’s pretty fun in a sick masochistic kind of way, but it does seem quite far from archaeology at the moment!
This afternoon I will have to move seats and put on my L – P : Hat. It is the end of the month and therefore its time to take a good look at the finances for the past month and what contracts we currently have on, etc. As L – P is owned and run by the partners themselves, it means that we all have to do a bit of everything – this is a great way of working and means we can really turn our hand to anything. Although we are spread over 4 offices in the UK, we are all great friends and working with everyone here is an absolute pleasure. It is great fun working with such amazing people in a very dynamic sector and doing work to a highly academic standard in a commercial framework. I mean doing archaeology, constantly learning new things, working with mates AND getting paid for it – not a bad Day!
However, times have been a bit rocky recently for commercial archaeology, and although it seems as if UK PLC. is pulling itself slowly out of the recession, new planning laws are being drawn up that may or may not make it better for archaeologists. There are constant stories of planning departments closing, units going bust and people out of work. We are all really at a turning point at the moment in commercial archaeology and so this afternoon I will also be taking the time to look over the new proposed National Planning Framework and seeing how this is going to affect the sector. I urge everyone else to do the same, the Government is asking for consultation responses, so please do take a look and contact the IfA and let them know what you think about the document and how we can change it to make it better for the needs of the sector.
Right back to my seat… front or back?