Monday, 1 May 2017

A true innovation

Sometimes you just hope you had got the idea. But somebody else did when it did not even occur to you. However, it does not make you marvel the quality of the original innovation any less. On the contrary, it makes you appreciate the originality of the thinking and the work put into realizing the plan.

Basically, it was a simple idea. A group of scholars take turns in tweeting under a unique hashtag. Everybody gives a presentation in a set time with more or less set number of tweets on their selected subject under a common theme. The other scholars follow the hashtag or like the presenters in order to follow the presentation in real time – or return to an earlier presentation. Naturally, it took an advertising campaign, selecting or approving from abstracts the final presentations and circulating a timetable and people’s handles. The timetable took into account the time difference between Europe and the Americas so that it started with more British presentations and finished with the American ones. This was a set put together by someone who understands how Twitter works, what is possible and how people communicate there.

This was the archaeological Twitter conference on public archaeology, i.e. Public Archaeology Twitter Conference (#PACT) that was imagined by Lorna Richardson. It run on Friday starting at 9.30 am British time and finishing only at 11.30 pm. Everyone got a 15 minute time slot and the subject matter covered everything from the accessibility of archaeology and the gender relations in archaeology and the exploitative nature of labour in early career archaeology to gaming as heritage to the endangered sites in the Middle East and presentations of more traditional field projects. The key note lectures took place the evening before and were given by Professor Shawn Graham from Carleton University and Dr Colleen Morgan from York University. They had slightly more time to their topics about bots in archaeology and a personal view to the poetics of digital archaeology.

Lorna was inspired by the World Seabird Conference so it was not totally original thinking but applying it to archaeology required quick reasoning and adaptation. This all was against a background of some fierce critique towards archaeologists twittering from some corners. As one participant commented, you could take part into a conference from your own kitchen. You can still check the programme and work through the conference now.

I can only say that I did retweet some of the advertising material along the process. I did enjoy the resulting conference as a spectator. Now I have to see if further ideas come out of this.

I should remind people that I and Philip Mills have got the 20 years of taskscapes volume out, but that will require a blog post of its own next week.

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