Welcome to the New Year! What are your Goals for Archaeology?

Wow, look at the time, it’s a new year already!  2017 was such a strange year for me personally, I experienced some of the biggest changes in my personal life, and also learned some hard lessons.

Now that this whirlwind of a year is ebbing, I am excited to look forward toward my goals of the year to come! While I do reassess and reset my goals throughout the year, this is a motivating time to look broadly at what I hope to accomplish.

Goals for HUX

1. Start my own Business

I originally thought I would put this off until after I had completed my thesis, but I changed my mind. I’ve got a list of professional development to get through, but this year is the year!

2. Finish my thesis project

I have a leave of absence scheduled for the spring semester, and then it’s back to work! I completed the first phase of my research this year, and have four phases to go!

3. Develop more reflective and helpful content

My blog was, up until this point more of a passive archive of random posts, but now my goal is to develop content that helps archaeologists engage with the public. I have some exciting topics planned for 2018, so stay tuned!

Goals for Archaeologists

Continuing on that note, I thought I would also share some of the goals I have for archaeology for 2018. These goals are aimed at improving how we interact with each other and the public on the internet. I am, of course, biased in my choices since I am mostly interested in archaeology on the internet and social media so feel free to share your version too!

1. Be Seen

I’ve spoken with quite a few archaeologists who have websites and social media profiles that just sit there stagnant. This does little for you or the users you want to reach.

Social media feeds are dynamic, and often curated by a mix individual user choice and algorithms. Therefore, consistent and targeted use is key for your exposure in socials and blogging. How do you do this? Be shameless! Share your page and ask for likes!

2. Be Engaging

This may be news to you, but for many, we are the public face of archaeology. If you’ve called yourself ‘archaeologist’ in your profile, you will show up in a search (unless, of course, you’ve got your privacy restrictions set in which case I would assume online engagement and exposure is not your goal). Archaeologists can be more engaging by posting comments on articles in their feeds, sharing and reflecting on articles in your own feed, and writing articles or creating content to pitch to media outlets. As they say, archaeology is a small world, so I encourage you to look beyond the usual archaeology publications to reach a wider audience.

3. Be Collaborative

This goal is, to me, the most essential. The current political climate and the potential job market has wreaked havoc on the lives and careers of many of us, so it is now more than ever is when we should promote one another’s work together to reach mutual goals. I recently joined up with a support group for women archaeologists, and it has been such an inspiring group so far!

If you are looking to collaborate, feel free to get in touch! I am more than willing to exchange guest blogs and help with content development!

What are your goals?

Of course, there are many more things our field can work through to improve so share your list in the comments below. What goals would you like to see all archaeologists work toward?

CoDA Training TIPS Archive

While I was interning for the Center for Digital Archaeology (CoDA), I wrote a series of short blogs based off a few of their webinar classes. Writing these Training TIPS was a fun learning experience for me because some of these topics were things I knew nothing about. It is always humbling to me how a little bit of knowledge can spark brand new hobbies and interests. Browse through the links below to read my posts on the CoDA blog!

Photography and Photogrammetry

Photography and Photogrammetry for Archaeologists

Lighting for Photogrammetry

Stop a Moving Lens with Tape

Placing Coded Targets for Photogrammetry in the Field

Projects and Data

The Art of Narrative in Your Workflow

Always Have A Backup Plan

Questions for Clear Communication in your Project

Digital Software and Equipment

Introduction to GIS for Archaeology

Choosing Your First Drone

To find out more about the Center for Digital Archaeology, you can visit Digitalarch.org

An Introduction to User Experience for Archaeologists and Heritage Professionals

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You never know who your users could be until you ask..

In our contemporary era of archaeology, methods and theories that were once considered specialized into a subfield of digital archaeology have now become common practice. Technology such as databases and geographic information systems are already integrated into many archaeological project designs, and researchers are using the internet to gather data and form online discussion groups. Museums incorporate virtual reality into their exhibits, and resource management work can be completed without paper, on a tablet.

With the rapid pace of change in the field, how can we examine standards and provide multivocal interpretations? The field of User Experience or UX presents an iterative methodology that can be useful for archaeologists and heritage professionals in developing interactive ways of sharing their interpretations.

What is User Experience?

User Experience refers to the total experience of designing a system to solve user needs. It studies the experience people have when interacting with a product at all stages of its development (using, fixing, upgrading etc.). Some of the primary questions involved in UX research include assessments of product value, usability, adoptability, and desirability.

User experience is commonly used as a synonym for usability research, however, it encompasses a more holistic perspective. Usability, according to Jacob Nielsen, is a multi-component concept. Nielsen breaks down usability into five attributes: Learnability, efficiency, memorability, errors, and satisfaction (Nielsen 2010). Nielsen stresses the importance of clarifying these measurable aspects of usability, rather than aiming to broadly define what may be deemed “user-friendly.”

UX research methods resemble anthropological research methods (in fact, many anthropologists have found their niche working in UX). The key difference in approach is that the goal of research for UX is directed at improving a bounded system through iterative research design, versus gathering describing a more open cultural context.

How does UX fit into archaeology?

This is an important perspective for archaeologists who are concerned with public outreach and interpretation. Digital systems such a websites and social media are becoming one of the essential forms of public engagement.

Design philosophies such as UX are important for an archaeologist to consider because, for many archaeologists, coding and web development is not our specialty. There are services like WordPress and Squarespace that make simple websites a possibility for public interaction without the need for extensive design experience. Applying UX methods allows archaeologists to provide a multivocal platform for inclusion for all of their audiences by considering questions such as:

  • Who is going to be using our website?
  • What sort of systems are our users already comfortable interacting with that we could apply?
  • What expectations do our users have for content?
  • What constraints do we have in terms of budget, data restrictions, copyright, etc…

How do I start?

UX has many methods to choose from, ranging from simple survey to in-depth usability testing. Contextual queries, combined with usability design principles are a great place to start for archaeologists and heritage professionals who are looking to create more dynamic and engaging online spaces, fieldwork products, or even to improve workplace culture of your CRM firm.

Liminal Anthropology is now Heritage UX!

Greetings, and welcome to the new website!

After many years of general blogging on Liminal Anthropology, I have decided to take a more specific and specialized focus. From now on, I will be blogging more about digital public archaeology, and of course, how UX (User Experience) relates. I am very excited to move in this direction, and invite you all to follow along this new endeavor. Please bear with me in the next few weeks as I redesign my website, and feel free to send any comments my way!

You can find now find me on twitter through my updated handle @HeritageUX