Exploring Archaeology on the Social Web

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Guest post by David Connolly and Maggie Struckmeier of Past Horizons & BAJR Federation

With the increase in social networking and interactive web-based systems over the past few years, archaeology has in general been slow on the uptake, however, there were those there at the start and those that are catching on to the potential, with more appearing on a weekly basis.  They range from the stunning, innovative and genuinely useful (which get filed under favourite) to those that may have the best intentions but miss the point completely.

Not wanting to focus on the negative, it goes without saying that Voices of the Past, Past Horizons and BAJR Federation are great examples of technological openness and creativity, but it would be unfair to put them into our top ten sites.  So, without further adieu, these are the websites we feel add to the experience, by utilising the social web that now has become so much a part of lives.

Facebook Groups & Fan Pages

There are several hundred ‘archaeology groups’ and pages – however, the secret is in the interactivity, rather than just sitting there, with a never ending procession of people advertising their own pages, which then contain a list of other people advertising their page or group.   There are three stand-out groups/pages that make a good start to any day, are unique in their content and also have an active membership who contribute, comments, photos and useful links.

The Official Movement To Bring Sexy Back To Archaeology: Funny, irreverent and with attitude–a great supplement to the main website/blog.

Arch PointsEverything you never thought you wanted to know.  One nugget of information a day, from how to survive a charging buffalo to recording painted plaster.

How to be an Archaeological FieldfashionistaAn outlet for both those moments of archaeological fashion genius as well as those archaeological fashion disasters. Good fun and a way to keep connected.

Flickr

Flickr is another site with a plethora of groups dedicated to archaeology from the local through experimental, aerial and world views.  But my current favourite:

Archaeology Travel PhotosLove this group as the photographs are constantly being added (over 22,000 at last count) and this means that you can travel the world of archaeology and find places and sites you may have never heard of.  Many images are complete with locations and detailed descriptions, which means you can learn a little more each day.

Canmore: Search over 275,000 buildings, archaeological and maritime sites across Scotland. Discover what photographs, drawings, manuscripts and books are in their collections and view over 100,000 digital images

And now our favourite bit: Add your own contributions to Canmore. Search for a site, register, and upload an image or add some information. Next time you go for a walk, and take a good image of a site … upload it! Next time you see a site and feel that it could do with a better description, or want to update the condition, or have additional information from local studies … add it! This is the way that National Records are supposed to be!

YouTube/Vimeo

You would think that archaeology and video would go well together, but strangely, this is a desert in as far as dedicated channels are concerned.  We are always on the look out for new ideas and inspiration from videos on YouTube, but can go for weeks without a single decent upload. But there are 3 exceptions!

Archaeological Institute of America channelVideos about archaeology by the Archaeological Institute of America — excavation, site preservation, interviews with archaeologists, and more!

Penn State Abington AnthropologyFor students in the Anthropology and American Studies courses taught by Dr. P.J. Capelotti at Penn State Abington College. Here you will find videos related to the history and archaeology of polar exploration methods in historical archaeology and more.

Thames Discovery on VimeoWe love theses, because they range from the informative and very, very watchable, to the very, very funny! All created by Anies Hassan of Tollun Films, he has a slew of videos that show what can be done in archaeology, with a bit of imagination and an eye for a show.  Training videos on the Thames Discovery Programme, Timelapse at Catal Hoyuk, records of an excavation and even a bit of dance.  What more do you want?!

Scribd

A document sharing site that links to every other social network from Twitter to Facebook, allowing the easy sharing of documents, reports and articles with a mass audience, as well as creating a stored archive.  The early adopters of this technology have remained the leaders so as we have to ignore the BAJR reports and guides, we will point towards a specific Archaeology Scribd contributor, that always has something fresh to read:

Wessex Archaeology: With 317 documents and reports online, they are doing their best to make archaeology accessible. And with over 17,000 subscribers, they must be doing something right.

Teaser photo elements courtesy of webtreats and Wessex Archaeology

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