My research examines the use of Internet technologies in archaeological communities involved in public engagement and outreach work, with an emphasis on the UK.
In the UK at least, Public Archaeology and community engagement projects take place in distinct areas; within commercial archaeological companies, as community-led archaeology projects, university and higher education projects, and within local government or grant-funded (usually via the Heritage Lottery Fund) heritage organisations. Some of my main research aims are:
- To examine the financial, technical, legal and archival restraints and barriers presented by the use of Internet technologies specific to archaeological communities, technical issues of navigation and website structure and impact of real-life events on website traffic
- To examine social media technologies used in archaeology, and issues of reliability, reputation, ownership and trust
- To examine the impact of archaeological digital public engagement projects on their intended audience
- To examine the issue of raising public awareness of digital outreach and the opportunities for participation in digital and social media within public archaeology programmes
- To explore existing and future provision for archaeologists and community groups using/interested in exploiting new media technologies for public archaeology and outreach work
I hope that this research will address the need for diverse archaeological communities to widen participation and engage new audiences on a more collaborative platform. This research will provide reliable data that can be used to improve user experience, engagement and participation with archaeology and other heritage subjects via Internet technologies, and embed usability and sustainability within digital archaeological projects. Understanding the impact of participatory media will aid archaeologists and those in the heritage outreach and volunteer fields to promote the advantages of digital outreach and public collaboration, in terms of economic benefit, social justice, learning outcomes, diversifying audiences and the promotion of social inclusion.