November 28, 2012 by Lorna Richardson
My qualitative research into digital Public Archaeology projects takes place each year in the winter months, with the aim of collating a simple yet definitive list of the number and variety of digital Public Archaeology projects in the UK and the type of media represented by each project – i.e. blog, website, Facebook page and so forth. The first survey took place from December 2010 to January 2011. The first one was a bit of a pilot, and I only included England and Wales (sorry Crown Dependencies, Northern Ireland and Scotland, please don’t take it personally, I was pushed for time).
The data was gathered with the help of the then CBA Community Archaeology Support Officer, Dr Suzie Thomas, and David Connolly from BAJR, to whom I am very grateful for their kindness and support. The types of projects I counted in the survey were any website, blog or social media platform that included information about public participation or Community Archaeology in any of the areas of the archaeology sector covered by my research focus: within commercial archaeological companies, community-led archaeology projects, university and higher education projects, and within Local Authority or grant-funded projects (such as the HLF).
This first survey showed that, as of January 2011, there were 384 individual archaeological organisations and projects in England and Wales that were using some form of Internet technology such as websites, blogs and social media platforms, for Public Archaeology and public engagement.
These online projects belonged to a variety of Local Authority archaeology projects, commercial archaeology companies, charities, Heritage Lottery Funded and other grant-funded projects, but the majority belonged to local and regional voluntary ‘amateur’ archaeology groups.
Some of these projects had adopted social media technologies alongside their project website: 43 projects out of 384 (that’s about 11%) of all known projects used the following social media: 12 used Twitter; 9 used Vimeo or YouTube; 23 used Facebook; 15 had blogs alongside their conventional websites; 4 organisations were using Flickr or Picasa for photo storage and management and 5 organisations were using other participatory platforms and tools, such as MySpace (amazing) and Scribd.
How times are changing. These figures were already hugely out of date by January 2012, and as I am about to embark on another round of data collection, I expect these figures to have increased. It is still my plan to create an open searchable map of these websites and social media, but as I seem to have so much going on in my life, this has drifted a bit. So my New Year’s resolution is to get this information available online, so anyone interested in finding out more about what is available in the world of digipubarch, comparing projects, or wanting to pick up new ideas, can get a UK wide perspective.
Any thoughts, as ever, please leave a comment or tweet me.