S10 Archaeology at large: embracing massive audiences for online applications
Chairs : J. Andrew Dufton 1, Müge Durusu-Tanrıöver 1, Susan Alcock 11 :
Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, Brown University (JIAAW) United States
As we reach over 20 years since the Internet truly arrived to a wider public, it is no longer a mere tool for the dissemination of information. Online applications are now also easily used for the active engagement of massive audiences. Although archaeologists have long relied on the web for the spread of archaeological data, have we been as successful in creating a sphere of online interaction for the general public? To achieve the democratic potential available online, archaeologists need to not only present information to a passive audience but also to encourage the direct involvement of this audience with archaeological materials.
As online technologies continue to develop, some new phenomena have emerged aimed particularly at fostering this type of direct involvement. For example, Massive Open Online Courses – or MOOCs – have the potential to drastically alter the way in which previously ‘academic’ information is conveyed. What ethical questions does the spread of ‘MOOC fever’ raise about the impact of opening up the academy to an unpaying audience? Crowdsourcing and crowdfunding initiatives similarly look to existing public interest to support archaeological projects. Yet how can we maintain professional standards or legitimacy when archaeological work is undertaken by the general public? Interactive museums open collections to a global community, but how can we structure the archaeological narrative to such a varied audience? With the positive trend toward greater and greater engagement, we must also take time to ask the hard questions about the potential impact of our choices to embrace these new online tools.
This session invites contributions from projects using digital media specifically to actively engage larger groups. Of particular interest are discussions of successful – and also unsuccessful – techniques for harnessing global communities or untapped potential. This may include examples of online teaching, crowdsourcing initiatives, interactive museums, or other approaches. We ultimately hope to open a timely dialogue on the potentials and pitfalls of these new online tools for a truly interactive online archaeology.