Different digital archaeologies for and by different audiences
ARKDIS project held a workshop on Digitisation and communication in Kalmar this week in association with the recently started Graduate School in Contract Archaeology (GRASCA) at the Linneaus University in Kalmar. The invited speakers included prof. Vincent Gaffney (University of Bradford) and Dr. Henry Chapman (University of Birmingham) ARKDIS project visited in spring 2014 in Birmingham, and Dr. Lorna Richardson (Umeå University) together with members of ARKDIS project and GRASCA. The different presentations discussed the role of digital technologies in archaeological documentation, research and communication from widely different perspectives ranging from the use of underwater survey data acquired from oil and gas industry (Gaffney), wetland archaeology and how digital technologies serve different stakeholders in archaeological community, VISTA and Digital Humanities Hub in Birmingham (Chapman) to the links of digital archaeology and digital sociology and a number of examples of practical projects of using digital techniques for communication and documentation. Gaffney talked also about the history of archaeological science and visualisation research in Bradford and new Bradford projects building on crowdsourced and web scraped data on heritage sites.
What I found perhaps most interesting in the discussion was an embryo of a real attempt to problematise the question of audiences and uses that has been for sure sometimes touched upon in the literature but that still seems to be rather uncommon in digital archaeology. What kind of archeology and what kind of archaeological information comes out of the use of specific types of digital technologies, it is relevant or good (and for what aims it might serve) and for what purposes and what kinds of audiences it works (and how). In this sense the work Chapman described at the Birmingham Digital Humanities Hub on understanding audiences and audience engagement is extremely important. Digital technologies change archaeology (and archaeological information) as it is done and produced by archaeologists, and archaeology as it is conceptualised and understood by non-archaeologists. The problem and interesting issue is that these different archaeologies and archaeological knowledges changes in different ways and to different directions.