Day of DH: Perspectives from the Campus Archaeology Team

Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 8.21.03 AMAs part of Day of Digital Humanities (DH), we are going to be sharing perspectives of what doing digital means for various members of the Campus Archaeology team. Digital Humanities covers a large body of work, but primarily refers to the application of digital tools and technology to humanities problems and questions. This page will be updated throughout April 8, 2014 with new posts and updates about our digital tools during the day.

You can visit our official Day of DH page here, and learn more about Day of DH here.

12:30 pm: Katy’s Perspective

My work with Campus Archaeology has been very digitally focused- that is until this year. I’ve done work to help create a more robust mapping system for Campus Archaeology using geographic information systems. As the Campus Archaeologist (2011-2013) I usedFlickrTwitterFacebook and WordPress to engage with the public and share our findings. I developed an Omeka site for Campus Archaeology to create online museum exhibits. But I’ve been a little more analog this year. My current project is to accession all the Campus Archaeology artifacts, which entails giving unique numbers to artifacts in order to keep track of them and organize them by location found.

My dropbox for applying for site numbers, collaboratively done by using the cloud
My dropbox for applying for site numbers, collaboratively done by using the cloud

Despite the fact that the bulk of my project is analog, we’ve made the process easier by sharing documents about sites in Dropbox and our database of artifacts is all digital. I’m also helping others to make their work a little more digital. I’ve been working with intern Josh to improve the GIS by adding more attributes and adding all the survey points. I’ve also been helping with Dig the Past, this past weekend I volunteered at the event and tweeted throughout the it. By keeping track of these tweets, I was able to create a Storify version of the day.

So even though I’d say I’m not doing digital projects, digital tools are still an essential part of my workflow and help to organize my work with Campus Archaeology. I still find it fascinating of how helpful new technology is for understanding the past and engaging with the public.

11:30 am: Campus Archaeologist Kate’s Perspective

Kate screening while shovel testing under sidewalks for Campus Archaeology
Kate screening while shovel testing under sidewalks for Campus Archaeology

Field blogging has become commonplace for archaeologists; creating field journals that describe the day-to-day happenings of the field season. Blogs allow the archaeologist to connect to a larger audience and interact with new communities of followers. The general public can be awe inspired to learn about archaeology while fellow colleagues can offer insight. Blogs create a transparency for excavations which encourages public trust. Additionally, this transparency provides a grounding for the general public to understand what real archaeology is, rather than what is portrayed on the silver screen. Field school blogging has become an ever more popular tool used to insure learning.

Blogging has the power to strengthen a student’s field experience by encouraging the student to be fully engaged in every aspect of the field season, by allowing the student to share his/her experience with a wider, captivated audience, and by creating a system the ensures the student is understanding the archaeology. While classroom blogging fosters interactions between students, blogging in the field fosters interactions between the student and the excavation. By encouraging the student to think critically about what the artifacts and features are saying about the site, blogging lets the student interact intellectually with the archaeology. While the typical non- digital field journal is used to remember numbers, depths, coordinates, etc…the field blog is a less formal format that gives the student an opportunity to be creative and think outside of the box…or in this case the unit!

11:05 am: Digital is all around us!

Campus Archaeology Tweet

10:30 am: Erica’s Perspective

Dig the Past
Dig the Past

When I first heard about April 8, Day of DH, my first thought was, “What is DH?” Similar to anyone with access to a computer, email is second nature to me and I have fun playing on my Facebook page, but this is where my technology experience ends. When I learned about Day of DH, I wondered, “who are a digital humanists and what do they do?” This is precisely why I would like to participate in Day of DH: to explore, to experience, and to understand what DH is all about.

Recently, I became active in a public outreach program, Dig the Past, which introduces people of all ages to what archaeologists do through hands-on activities. Participation in Dig the Past enabled me to join MSU’s Campus Archaeology Program, the parent program of DTP. By being an active member in CAP, I am learning how various forms of social media are used to educate the public about the important work that archaeologists do. I am excited to participate in Day of DH and write about my new experiences using social media to communicate about Campus Archaeology activities.

9:30 am: Adrianne’s Perspective

Dig the Past
Dig the Past

My work for the Campus Archaeology Program has largely involved creating and overseeing the “Dig the Past” monthly series of hands-on educational workshops that CAP hosts at the MSU Museum. “Dig the Past” is an education and engagement project sponsored by the Campus Archaeology Program in which kids learn what archaeologists do by doing it. Workshop participants dig, sift, and sort their way towards learning about how archaeology builds knowledge about the human past. The program involves hands-on activities targeted towards children as well as adults which promote learning and disseminate information about the history and archaeology of MSU and its campus. Because the program is, very intentionally, about physically interacting with cultural material and hands-on learning activities, my digital heritage activities for the project have not been particularly in-depth. I have used social media platforms like Twitter (@archaeoAD) and Facebook to promote the program and to connect with other content experts and public programmers interested in informal learning. I’ve written a few blog posts describing and reflecting upon aspects of my experience working with the program, which can be read on the CAPBlog. I have also created a Flickr account to archive photos taken at Dig the Past sessions, which can be viewed here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/97088955@N02/sets The blog posts and photo archive are valuable records of the activities, especially as they have evolved since Dig the Past started, and will complement the wealth of other content developed for the program since its inception.

8:30 am: Amy and Nicole’s Perspective

For our Campus Archaeology projects, we rely on the MSU Archives to supplement the artifacts we find during excavations on campus. Fortunately the Archives have digitized some of their collections, which can be found on their searchable website “On the Banks of the Red Cedar”.  This site contains oral histories, documents, newspapers, and photographs detailing early campus life. The Archives also has a public flickr account which includes many photographs from MSU’s early history. An upcoming exhibit by Campus Archaeology on the origins of research laboratories on campus will be featured in Chittenden Hall, which will soon be the new home of the MSU Graduate School.

In order to benefit future researchers interested in the historic campus, we catalogue all notes regarding historical documents, photographs, and artifacts in a digital reference database. Campus Archaeology uses the Zotero software to share and disseminate this information. Our integrated project demonstrates the usefulness and importance of combining archaeological excavations and archival research to further our understanding of MSU’s rich academic and social history.

7:15 am: Good Morning and Happy Day of DH!

Campus Archaeology Day of DH tweet

6:00 am: Doing Digital Campus Archaeology: Andrew’s Perspective

One of my functions within Campus Archaeology is to monitor and disseminate scholarly archaeological content via our social media outlets.  While tangentially related to DH, it does bring the field or archaeology, from various perspectives on various subjects around the world, to our readers who might not otherwise have found the same content. As professional archaeologists, it is our connection to the scholarly community which allows us to bring interesting and informative content to readers who may not be professionals, in a way that is easily understood and accessible.



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