Assessing the Future Landscape of Archaeological Communication

Put your meta-mega education nerd hats on! A couple of months ago the Center for Studies in Higher Education here at UC Berkeley (with help from the Mellon foundation) conducted an intensive survey about digital media in education. It’s titled: Assessing the Future Landscape of Scholarly Communication: An Exploration of Faculty Values and Needs in Seven Disciplines and is freely available to browse or download. The seven disciplines that the survey incorporated were Astrophysics, Biology, Economics, History, Music, Politics, and Archaeology!

I will out myself as saying that I was one of the 160 anonymous interviewees–perhaps skewing the Archaeology sample as I have a fairly deep investment in digital media.  There is a lot of frank talk regarding scholarly success, publication, and collaboration within our field, including publication in online-only journals.

One of the most interesting bits of the assessment is the finding that younger scholars tend to be more conservative than older colleagues in digital publication.  This is attributed to concerns about jobs, tenure, and stolen work, whereas older, established archaeologists have more room to “play.”  There is the concern that “younger colleagues do not necessarily seem to be attracted to new initiatives and digital technologies, for fear that they do not constitute part of their ‘legitimate archaeological training.'” I have found this to be true in part, but some of the grad students seem to actively hide their knowledge and interest so that they will not be appearing to waste their time in front of their advisors. I sometimes de-emphasize this aspect of my research because I am very much a field archaeologist and do not want to be stuck behind a computer out in the field.  Finding a happy medium between these two aspects of my research is a question very central to my dissertation.

Anyway, a lot of great information in the study, certainly something I wish I’d read before I entered grad school!

Author: colleenmorgan

Dr. Colleen Morgan (ORCID 0000-0001-6907-5535) is the Lecturer in Digital Archaeology and Heritage in the Department of Archaeology at the University of York. She conducts research on digital media and archaeology, with a special focus on embodiment, avatars, genetics and bioarchaeology. She is interested in building archaeological narratives with emerging technology, including photography, video, mobile and locative devices. Through archaeological making she explores past lifeways and our current understanding of heritage, especially regarding issues of authority, authenticity, and identity.

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