I am Nicole Beale (nee Smith), a PhD student at the University of Southampton, looking at the impact that the Web is having on professional practice in the cultural heritage sector. As with every weekday, my morning has begun with some toast, a cup of tea, and my RSS feeds. I have a meeting with my supervisor later today, so I’ll mostly be spending time with my own thoughts this morning, but there’s still time to do a few little fun ‘archaeology’ themed jobs.
Firstly, after I have brushed my teeth I am planning to clean up a blog that I set up for a great project that is run by two insanely motivated archaeologists, between Southampton University and Zupanja Museum in Croatia. The blog is quite dusty and needs a spring-clean before the next load of students begin to populate it with this year’s fieldwork data (they survey/dig through August). The blog aims to give updates about the fieldwork season as it goes on, but invariably has been updated at the end of a season with a few personal thoughts and then a season summary. I’m going to try to encourage more ‘raw’ content this season, but don’t know if those digging and surveying will be able to find time to contribute content.
In an attempt to lessen the frustrations of visiting a blog that doesn’t have regular content updates, I have tried to fashion it more like a static website. Not sure if that does actually make the lack of new content less frustrating for the subscribers, but it certainly does lessen my guilt for not spending much time cleaning it up as I should have last year (or the year before). Time is the biggest barrier I think to the success of communication avenues like the blogs we set up every year. Along with persuading team members that content can be brief and still worthy of inclusion.
Next up; the semantic web and art gallery data sets…
Ruth Tringham (professor) – “Busy day today at the SF Presidio. Usual San Francisco fog, then sunny with wind – lovely summer… Today we started off the discussion of how we are going to share our project to create microhistories about archaeology and cultural heritage at the SF Presidio. Since this is a class on Digital Documentation, it’s no surprise that we chose digital on-line platforms. We started off with Erica’s [Pallo] experience of her yummy foody blogs and do’s and dont’s of blogging. This was followed by Elena’s [Toffalori] technical guide through the ins and outs of WordPress. What a coincidence – unplanned – with the Day of Archaeology. Pure serendipity. There are no coincidences, you say; well maybe not…….Then plotting with dreams and realistic visions of what our tour of El Presidio, Funston Ave and El Polin will look like on the Web, on an iPad, and/or iPhone. Michael [Ashley] and I brainstorming very constructively and loudly as usual, making dreams come true.”
Michael Ashley (instructor) – “I was psyched about a ‘day in the life of’ archaeologists worldwide’ since I first heard about it from Lorna and friends. We spend the day digging deep into digital archaeology in our course at the Presidio of San Francisco. The student team had fabulous ideas on how to put together a virtual visit of past Presidio life with new technologies such as gigapixel imaging and Google Earth. I was pulled into a great discussion with Presidio staff about how to plan a 3-way documentation of the Officer’s Club, originally an adobe structure that’s spent most of its modern life shrouded in wood and sheetrock. Cyark will laser scan the interior, and CoDA will work with Presidio staff to produce color accurate photogrammetry and gigapixel imaging. We are working to meld practical digital techniques with real world archaeological problems, and have a lot of fun in the process. Thanks, Lorna and all for getting the Day of Archaeology rolling, and congratulations!
Erica Pallo (CoDA intern) – “Digital Documentation for Archaeology: Documenting, Representing, and Interpreting Cultural Heritage at the San Francisco, California Presidio. So much is said in a name, and this one just so happens to be the title of the academic course we are hosting at the University of California in Berkeley. Teaching students of Archaeology the nitty gritty of the discipline, carrying out our official work-related projects both past and present, and in general just being excited about the implications and applications archaeology has to offer are all in a day’s work for us, so heck, we here at CoDA are chuck full of bright ideas for making archaeology happen habitually. Organizing our class for a special undertaking such as today’s – though it was a complete coincidence that this occasion fell on a pre-scheduled class day – where all of us Archaeo types can get together via the World Wide Web to celebrate all the ideals we hold dear, sounds like sweet success to our virtual ears!
As a constant way to chronicle our class’s documentation of El Presidio de San Francisco , I write a weekly blog that assesses the skills learned, trials and tribulations of making archaeology digital, and feedback from the voices of the students themselves as they enter (sometimes with trepidation) into the multi-faceted world of cultural heritage preservation. Today I gave a crash course on blogging as a way to educate, but also to ease some fears and stir up excitement for future possibilities in the field. Below I carry on with my routine methodology of having the class participants – students, interns, professors, other CoDA staff – share a little insight into their stance on digital documentation of cultural heritage, only this time I am pleased to say it includes their general enthusiasm for the Day of Archaeology. Welcome to the class!”
Elena Toffalori (CoDA staff) – “Today I had the chance to cut in on the conversation about blogging and archaeology in this amazing course. Based on my experience of web development with the CoDA Website I followed Ruth Tringham and Erica Pallo and gave a first introduction to Content Management Systems and more “geeky-technical” details involved in blogging and publishing contents on the web, as I have done already in a series of posts on our blog section. Having to work with media and building narratives, and especially when handling cultural heritage-related data, it is particularly important to take care of our data and metadata, so that details such as copyright attribution, contextual information, and tracking to the original file are made possible and lawfully pursued. This is one of the major challenges young cultural heritage specialists have to face to help dragging the discipline into the XXI century!”
Ioan Chelu (student) – “We’ve all been in that class with the instructor who’s lectures consist of reciting monotonously from dry, old textbooks. BORING. How do you make archaeology interesting for the greater public? How do you form connections with them, at large? How do we connect this dry, old subject of archaeology with new, modern technology? These are the questions we’ve been asking and answering today.”
Chris Fussell (student) – “Organizing multiple angles of history via interactive multimedia feels a bit daunting and exciting. Using Google Earth to generate a tour of the Presidio with images, text stories, movies all while placing all of this information spatially with the ability to travel vast distances will allow one to virtually travel to the past. There is so little of the original Presidio left at the site in San Francisco. Most of it is sealed under a parking lot or a part of the WWI era officers club. I think what we are doing is allowing as much accesses to the past as possible at this time and perhaps more. A historic place or artifact cannot simply speak for itself; it needs a touch of humanity, a story, something that makes it relevant to today, a connection that unites current residents of San Francisco and visitors from around the world. People generate history through events, through action. We are often left with the result but not the need, the idea, the planning, the consequences, the effort and use of what was made in the past. How do we bring this out in our project for the Presidio? I guess that is what I will be finding out through my and my teamates efforts and actions.”
Cyrena Giordano (student) – “What did I do today? I learned about blogging and how intricate and interlaced blogging communities can be. Also, how blogging can be a faster and semi-professional way to get one’s writing out to the public. Moreover how blogging can be, in a sense, a replacement for a resume or even a book. This was really interesting to me.”
Luke Morris (student) – “Determination of blogging value, enhancing dissemination of digital data and its interpretation: clearly the future of archaeology.”
Adam Grab (student) – “Today was an informative session in digitally codifying archaeological information. We experienced the benefits and disadvantages of proprietary versus open source blogging, as far as customization and access to data is concerned. It’s amazing how much free reign is possible when you know the right kinds of editing.”
Francesca Favila (student) – “My mind was BLOWN by the discussions of html and php and blogging that took place in class today. My capabilities using the internet are limited, to say the least.”
Nicholas Joy (student) – “Today was a great class. We learned about how to digitize our data in either a blog, html, or .org format. Today was important because not only does this information pertain to just archeology, but with so many digital links we learn they can be used in many areas out in life. Happy Archeology Day to all.”
Debbie James (student) – “Hml, css, php…what? Okay, I understand what a blog is…sort of. Very interesting, but still need to catch up with the modern world. Happy Archaeology Day!”
Cheryl Guerrero (student) – “Acronyms flying fast and furious today, but think I was able to hang on to a few of them…HTML, CSS, and PHP, which used to be ‘personal home page’ but I don’t think that applies anymore. Still learning about techie terms, hosting sites and blogging, but seems to be a slow process…”
Connor Rowe (CoDA staff) – “Well, today was a lovely day experimenting in the latest panorama viewing technologies coming out of the German-speaking world. Trying to get around the Apple/Adobe wars and get our panorama to view in the iOS Safari is so far unsuccessful, but we will persevere! In a side note, I came across a neat little trick that allows those of us running Macs to turn our desktop Safari into an iPad/iPhone Safari emulator. Try Safari > Preferences > Advanced and check the box that says “Show Develop menu in menu bar,” then, at the top of the screen you should see Develop, from which you will change your User Agent. For the good news, we finally remembered to bring the Magic Gold Cable (DV/FireWire 800) from our Berkeley lab out to the Presidio so that we can finally get started on the log&capture&compression process for the student vids.”