What the Tech…?!

A recent SHA Academic and Professional Training Student Sub-committee survey asked student members what technologies are necessary in archaeology and as professionals. In continuing support of the identification, discussion, and application of relevant technologies, student member, Tim Goddard, agreed to (re)introduce the concept behind the Technology Room – a great space for students and professionals to engage in one-on-one conversations about current technologies in historical archaeology.

Thank you for the opportunity to blog about the Technology room from/for a student’s perspective. I gladly serve on the SHA’s Technology committee. I am also a Graduate student finalizing my PhD. Several years ago, when I first joined the committee, one of my first conversations with fellow members explored the challenges of presenting the use of technology to SHA members who were not already a part of the “technology crowd”. For many previous years, the same group of colleagues presented the latest technologies they were playing with and composed the small number of technology sessions at annual meetings. Despite the fun of this, rarely did we see new faces – especially people wanting to learn about technology.

The Technology Committee was created to serve the SHA’s needs as they relate to technology. This can include almost anything, which has been the case thus far. Only the Website has remained outside the purview of the technology committee. We serve to advise the SHA board and any interested members on almost any technology-related application, either for the Society, or for use in the field of archaeology. As you can imagine, this is an extensive scope. The diverse technical needs of archaeologists require that the committee have a number of members from a wide variety of technological backgrounds. We cover topics including: social media, geophysics, remote sensing, data collection, data management, GIS, LIDAR, 3D, virtual worlds, network management, etc.

pXRF Technology Leicester 2013. PxRF technology allows us to identify the chemical composition of soils and/or artifacts. The committee regularly offers workshops at the SHA to learn how to use this technology. The following link is an example of one use by one of our committee members David Morgan (http://ncptt.nps.gov/blog/pxrf-presentation-at-lasmaa/).

With some of my own work in WebGIS, I was frustrated that it was not possible to demonstrate my research in a virtual poster session allowing people to view and interact with my presentation via a computer terminal. To do so would have meant me renting a table space, electricity and Wi-Fi, in the exhibition room. Something that is not really feasible for most students! I also know firsthand from teaching that there are a large number of archaeologists that have technology phobias. This fear can be found in young students as well as established emeritus colleagues around the world. So I wanted to know how we could better serve those members at the conferences. We developed the idea of the Technology Room.

Our first experiment with a dedicated technology demonstration space was at the 2011 meeting in Austin, Texas. We decided to focus on three to four key technologies that we felt every archaeologist should know about. We found a handful of our colleagues working with these technologies and invited them to bring the actual technology to our room and to sit down for a block of time to answer questions and provide demonstrations, and hands on experience were possible, for interested colleagues. We strove to recruit archaeologists using technologies in their research projects rather than sales representatives. The idea was great and we got positive feedback, but our execution that first year needed some help.

LIDAR technology Leicester 2013. LIDAR typically comes in aerial or terrestrial applications. This is a terrestrial style scanner being demonstrated in the Technology Room. A good link to see LIDAR uses in heritage is http://archive.cyark.org/?gclid=CPX7m8a13boCFQLl7AodR0oAXw.

In the following years we continued to showcase various technologies by having practicing archaeologists demonstrate the technology in the exhibition room, which was always problematic and also made communicating difficult with all the noise. Last year, in Leicester, was the first year that we had our own dedicated room, making communicating much easier. We saw a drop in traffic indicating that we still need to get the word out there about the Technology Room. An undergraduate student who I supported at Leicester found the Room worth noting in a blog he posted about his first conference experience. There is something for everyone in the Technology Room.

UAV Technology Leicester 2013. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles are popping up everywhere in archaeology. From a simpler Quadcopter to multiple thousand dollar units with multiple sensor platforms are finding many uses every year in archaeology.

What are the purposes of the Technology Room?

  1. Present the latest and greatest technologies being used in archaeology.
  2. Have a practicing archaeologist familiar with the technology to educate others about what did and didn’t work.
  3. Learn what pitfalls to avoid.
  4. The real costs involved.
  5. Share technology driven research that can’t always be demonstrated in a traditional symposium.
  6. Network with various technology minded colleagues

What is the benefit to Students? Students:

  1. learn about technologies that you might not know about through your own institution;
  2. are often our best presenters as they grew up in a technology age and can help others with technology phobias in a professional context;
  3. can learn and see technology in a low pressure environment;
  4. and can network to find projects using a technology they might be interested in working with.

So I challenge you:

What Technology are you interested in? What role do you feel technology should play in archaeology? What are the problems we face with technology? How can we (SHA) or your institution better train you for technology-related applications?

Comment below as well as stop by the Technology Room this January.

Tim Goddard

At a Glance: Student-focused Activities at the SHA 2014 Conference

SHA student members will participate actively in this year’s annual conference. In addition to the familiar, the APTC Student Subcommittee (SSC) is hosting new events. Students in Quebec City will find focused events occurring every day of the conference. Here is a brief guide and links for more details.

A SHA tradition, the Past Presidents’ Student Reception will be held this year on January 9th starting at 4:30. The SHA likes to support its students and this is how the past presidents’ show it. Senior members of the organization, including SHA past and current Presidents, join in the mix. This mixer is an opportunity to chat with them as well as to meet other students.

Earlier on January 9th the SSC will host, in collaboration with the SHA’s Ethics Committee, its first ever Ethics Bowl. Come support competing teams engaged in ethical debates of import to all practicing archaeologists. If you missed out on this year’s competition don’t worry the SSC will be signing up teams for next year.

Don’t know what a Pecha Kucha is? Join us on Friday for this fast paced fun new session format. Suggested by our new friends from University of Laval, each presentation will show twenty slides for twenty seconds and be followed by a brief discussion.

Next up is the SSC RAP Session. This informal session encourages dialogue directed by students. Panelists join students in small groups or talk one-on-one about career goals, research issues or simply negotiating coarse work. Pop in and meet some SHA members who have made themselves available directly to students for this unique session.

The Conference Committee has been incredibly generous to the SSC this year. Most committee meetings take place very, very, very, early in the morning. This year, however, the SSC meeting has the most favorable slot- lunchtime on January 11th. So grab a sandwich and come join the Student Subcommittee. It is the best way to make new connections, participate in the SHA and gain leadership experience.

Traditionally the SSC and ACUA co-sponsor a special forum for students. This year’s topic, “Reaching Out: Public Archaeology for Students and New Graduates,” will address issues ranging from the practical to the ethical. This dynamic group of panelists should not be missed.

If you’re in the bookroom, stop by and say hello! SSC members will periodically be available at the SHA table. If we’re not there, please snag a flyer, which includes information about how you can participate in the SHA’s only student-run committee.

Finally, if you want to contribute to discussion or follow student-related goings on at SHA, you can search and follow social media tagged with #SHA2014, #SSC, and/or #students.

Here is a quick summary of sessions. Double check event rooms as they may change.

Schedule at a glance:

Jan 9
PAN3-8 Ethics Bowl 301B 1:30-3

Jan 10
PAN-92 Powered by Pecha Kucha Session 207 1:30-3
PAN-106 RAP session 207 3:30-5
Student Awards 200C 5-6

Jan 11
MTG-24 Student Subcommittee Meeting See Prog. 12-1:30 ALL WELCOME
PAN-149 Forum 207 1:30-5

Register for the SHA’s First Student Ethics Bowl

This year the SHA annual meeting has new exciting opportunities for students. For the first time, The SHA and its Student Subcommittee, aided by the Ethics Committee, are sponsoring their own Ethics Bowl. We warmly encourage all undergraduate and graduate students to participate in fun rounds of friendly competition. Students are welcome to form their own teams, composed of three or four students. Individual students are also encouraged to register and we will coordinate them into teams.

Teams will be given this year’s cases in advance so they can prepare their position. The issues posed range from underwater to terrestrial contexts and are based on current challenges students will face if they have not already. We recommend resources for preparing responses to the case and students will have access to “coaches” if they need some input.

The Bowl game mirrors real life – one always has to expect the unexpected. During play, game-changing cards will be introduced. These impact all players. The card contains new information about the case and provides complications all players will need to negotiate. So, quick thinking will be a plus! Regardless, the spontaneous nature of these curve balls will make for some additional fun.

Judges have been selected by the SHA Ethics Committee and represent senior member from terrestrial and underwater backgrounds. Winners will be selected according to the intelligibility, depth, focus and judgment of their analysis of the cases, the game changing cards and answer to the judges’ questions.

Join us for the founding of a new SHA tradition for SHA students. The forum is a fun way to participate in the annual conference, meet new people, prepare for real-world archaeology and participate in a little friendly competition. You may even expand your understanding of issues vital to your future success in the field.

The registration deadline has been extended to December 1st.

For additional information and to receive the registration form for this event, please email shaethicsbowl2014@gmail.com.

We look forward hearing you debate!

Cette année, le colloque annuel de la SHA propose aux étudiants de nouvelles opportunités très intéressantes. En effet, un Ethics Bowl, ou concours éthique, y fait son apparition pour la première fois sous l’égide du « Student Subcommitee » et du « Ethics Commitee » de la SHA. Nous invitons vivement tous les étudiants de premier cycle et des cycles supérieurs à participer à cette compétition amicale. Les étudiants peuvent former leur propre équipe, constituée de trois ou quatre étudiants. Les étudiants peuvent également s’inscrire à titre individuel et ils seront ensuite placés en équipes.

Les équipes recevront les mises en situation préalablement à la tenue de l’événement afin de préparer leur argumentaire. Les cas touchent des situations réalistes relevant autant de l’archéologie subaquatique que de l’archéologie terrestre. L’accès à des ressources et à des mentors sera offert aux équipes si elles en éprouvent le besoin.

Cette activité est qu’elle est à l’image de la réalité puisqu’elle ne permet pas de prévoir l’imprévisible. En effet, durant les échanges, des « game changing cards » seront introduites dans les discussions. Ces cartes contiennent de nouvelles informations à propos de la mise en situation de manière à ce que les participants reconsidèrent leur argumentaire. Conséquemment, les participants devront demeurer vifs d’esprit, ajoutant ainsi plus de défi!

Les juges ont été sélectionnés par le SHA Ethics Committee et sont des archéologues reconnus issus tant des milieux terrestres que subaquatiques. Les équipes seront notées en fonction de la clarté, de la profondeur, de la justesse et du bon jugement exprimé dans leur argumentaire. Par ailleurs, elle seront évaluées sur leur habileté à s’adapter aux nouveaux éléments apportés par les « game changing cards » et à répondre aux questions des juges.

Joignez-vous à nous pour ce qui se veut être une nouvelle tradition étudiante dans les colloques de la SHA! Ce forum est une opportunité amusante de participer au colloque annuel et de rencontrer des collègues issus de différents milieux tout en participant à une compétition amicale. Vous pourriez même améliorer votre compréhension de différents enjeux qui pourraient éventuellement avoir des échos dans votre carrière!

La date limite d’inscription est le 1 décembre.

Pour obtenir plus d’information ou pour demander le formulaire d’inscription, veuillez vous adresser au shaethicsbowl2014@gmail.com.

Au plaisir de vous voir prendre part au débat!