Job! Researcher for Transforming Data Reuse in Archaeology Project

Come join me and the team at MOLA as a Research Associate on our new European project TETRARCHs….

I’m over the moon to have received Arts & Humanities Research Council funding via the European CHANSE scheme for the 3-year project Transforming Data Reuse in Archaeology (TETRARCHs). Starting in October 2022, TETRARCHs is an international collaboration between myself and colleagues at MOLA, and some of my favourite scholars in the world at the University of York (Dr Holly Wright, Dr Colleen Morgan, Dr James Taylor), the Research Centre for the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (Dr Dr Edisa Lozić, Dr Benjamin Štular), Lund University (Dr Nico Dell’Unto), the University of Antwerp (Dr Hélène Verreyke, Dr Piraye Hacigüzeller), Ghent Centre for Digital Humanities (Dr Christophe Verbruggen), and Vilnius University (Dr Rimvydas Laužikas).

We seek to examine how archaeological methodologies in the field, the lab and the archive can be changed to support storytelling with archaeological data. And we aim to fundamentally modify archaeology’s standard processes to enable more and better re-use of data, priming these data from the earliest possible moment to tell stories and share findings in ways that are democratic, engaging and just.

TETRARCHs doesn’t officially start until next week – so there’s much to come (including a dedicated website) – but in the first instance I’m looking for a Research Associate to join us. Do you know anyone with a background in human-centred design or expertise in ethnography and audience evaluation? If so, please get in touch!

The post runs for 2.5 years at £35,433 per annum. It is based out of our London office, but flexible working options are available. We would welcome applications from people outside of the UK using the Global Talent Visa method of entry.

Please view the full job description here and apply here, and email me with questions. I have copied the advertisement for the role below.

Do you have a passion for digital heritage, digital humanities, or the critical use of cultural data to benefit different audiences? Keen on the potentials of storytelling to transform how we understand the world around us? Interested to experiment with how we can embed creativity directly into data records, associated metadata, and controlled vocabularies?

We are seeking an enthusiastic and talented candidate, ideally educated to PhD level, to join the CHANSE-funded Transforming Data Reuse in Archaeology (TETRARCHs) Project, led by Dr Sara Perry, Director of Research & Engagement at MOLA.

The successful post holder will have a track record of developing and applying human-centred design methodologies in different contexts with multiple audiences, as well as supporting others in their use and evaluation. You will have demonstrable experience of gathering quantitative and qualitative data, as well as experience in analysing qualitative data and conveying it in forms that are meaningful to different constituencies. 

Whilst supporting the Project Leader in implementing and monitoring key project work packages related to User-Centred Development and Evaluation, Storytelling and Creative Reuse, and Communications, you will:

  • Collaboratively develop and implement a human-centred design and evaluation methodology to enable TETRARCHs’ partners and collaborators to prime archaeological data for storytelling, and evaluate the efficacy of the approach with key audiences over the life of the project
  • Assist with compiling and monitoring the values and ethical frameworks under which the project will operate
  • Develop or support others in the development of knowledge exchange, communications, promotions, and educational material for the project, with a focus on reaching the project’s key audiences (creative practitioners, memory institutions and their constituencies)
  • Liaise with international partners and internal MOLA colleagues on the delivery of their project activities, as well as supporting the project’s Critical Friends’ User Group and Ethical Advisory Board

The successful candidate will have proven experience of critically applying research techniques and methodologies related to user-centred design, ethnography, and/or audience profiling and evaluation. You will have skills in working with people with multiple needs and people who may be facing a range of barriers to participation in heritage.

You will be skilled in communicating with – and listening to – people from a range of backgrounds in sensitive and supportive ways, and in preparing associated media to convey information in appropriate formats to targeted audiences. Competency with collaborative tools such as Miro, Google Jamboards or Padlet is required, as is self-motivation and a desire to go beyond the state of the art. A passion for matters of equality, diversity and inclusion is also a must.

This job will offer the opportunity to work both with MOLA’s own archaeological experts, and with partners and interested researchers around the world – networking, publishing, and presenting at conferences, as well as developing testimonials and content for wider audiences.

iN Deep – Reprised!

Join us in August for our session on ‘Cultural Presence in Immersive Educational Experiences’ at the Computing Applications in Archaeology conference…

Testing the multi-user Çatalhöyük VR experience developed as part of the EMOTIVE project (Autumn 2019).

After two years of postponement, Elaine Sullivan (University of California Santa Cruz), Paola Derudas (Lund University) and I are looking forward to hosting a long-planned session at the next CAA (Computer Applications & Quantitative Methods in Archaeology) conference in Oxford, UK from 9-11 August 2022. Please join us for S01: iN Deep: Cultural Presence in Immersive Educational Experiences!

The session description is below, and you can register via this link. Deadline for submissions has been extended to 6 April. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you want to talk through ideas or ask any questions.

iN Deep: Cultural Presence in Immersive Educational Experiences (Session 01)

Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (XR) technologies are increasingly incorporated into university classrooms and public education in the GLAM sector (galleries, libraries, archives, and museums). The potential to use these technologies to engage students and the public with archaeological knowledge (such as site reconstructions, artefacts, or re-imagining the activities of past peoples) is exciting, but these forms of representation, including the use of individual headsets, tablets, and personal mobile phones, come with particular challenges.

In his book Critical Gaming (2015), Eric Champion argued that virtual realities should express ‘cultural presence,’ the meaning and significance of a time, place, or object to people of the past. Hyper-reality, photogrammetry, and ever-increasing levels of ‘accuracy’ in 3D models do not inherently convey aspects of cultural significance and meaning, and many VR/AR/XR experiences fall dramatically short of the goal of expressing the importance of past places and things to their original communities. Emphasis on technological and (especially) hardware innovation often deflects attention from critically engaging with questions of meaning-making. This panel asks those creating or intensely using Archaeology VR/AR/XR to focus NOT on software, hardware, or the latest technical innovations, but on how we as archaeologists can better design, create, or curate experiences that inspire and educate students and the public on the cultural importance of archaeological spaces, objects or themes.

What are successful techniques to aid a visitor to better understand the original context of an object now placed in a (often far off) museum or gallery? How can university instructors incorporate the (problematically individual) headset or mobile experiences into pedagogy to provide meaningful and active student learning? How can complex data be usefully layered or curated so that multiple types of museum visitors or classes could find it informative and emotionally resonant? How can we turn these increasingly popular technologies into serious spaces of cultural learning and curiosity, moving beyond the initial ‘wow’ factor?

Instead of traditional 20 minute talks, we request that participants present 8-10 minutes in depth on one VR/AR/XR experience they have designed and/or utilized in a university or GLAM setting (not a general review of multiple types of work). We ask participants to present and explain aspects of design and interaction and their intent in that experience; or, if the content was not designed by the presenter, how content was incorporated, curated, or enhanced for the classroom or GLAM experience. Specifically, we ask presenters to think thoughtfully and critically about how we might collectively learn to use these technologies in more informed ways, including: What types of interactions with students or the public have shown promise, and how might we build on those successes? What practices have not worked, and how might we learn from our failures? What particular aspects of archaeological and cultural heritage knowledge are best emphasized in the VR/AR/XR experience? What is key to re-using content created by others, including content created by non-archaeologists?

The session will be divided into four sections:

  • 1st group of presentations, ~five presenters (10 minutes per presentation)
  • a ~30 minute ‘hands-on’ period** where participants and the audience will be able to engage/interact directly with the presented content from both presentation groups
  • 2nd group of presentations, ~five presenters (10 minutes per presentation)
  • concluded by a ~30-minute Q&A session for the full group of presenters and audience

We hope this format will allow the audience to engage directly with the content before opening up the session for questions and comments. The goal is to turn this session into a workshop that helps all present work more critically with VR/AR/XR content and improve how we communicate scholarly information at the university and GLAM setting.

**We therefore ask participants to commit to bringing their discussed content uploaded or downloadable in some format that can be shared directly with others: including (but not limited to) VR headsets, Google cardboard, AR apps pre-installed on tablets or smart phones, etc.

Champion, E. (2015). Critical Gaming: Interactive History and Virtual Heritage. Ashgate Publishing.

Digital Code of Conduct

MOLA’s community rules for safe and constructive online interactions

MOLA’s Digital Code of Conduct – our community rules for safe engagement on our digital channels (launched 9 September 2021)

I am very proud to say that this week at MOLA we launched our Digital Code of Conduct.

The code presents our public-facing community rules for audiences who engage with us on social media, on our apps and elsewhere. It has taken more than a year to develop, including 14 iterations and feedback from dozens of team members across MOLA. You can read more about the context for it on this blog post, including links to the many people and organisations who have inspired it.

This Code of Conduct grows directly out of requests and feedback from my colleagues and others who interact with us online, and the current version has seen many additions after multiple rounds of consultation. Some of you will know my own experiences of many years of persistent and extreme sexual harassment through web/social media, which left me feeling quite helpless as I was expected to act in a public-facing role without tools to manage the associated problems that come with such visibility.

I have published on my personal experience, done collaborative research on the extent to which others in the profession have been subject to such harassment, taught on multiple massive open online courses focused on safe digital engagements (e.g., Becoming a Digital Citizen), and follow along with the work of others who continue to decry the lack of safeguards around archaeology’s digital social practices and who advocate for change (e.g., Chris WakefieldLorna RichardsonMeghan Dennis). I’ve developed field-based codes of conduct, and have been profoundly influenced by the work of others doing the same in their contexts of work (e.g., Ben Marwick, DigVentures).

Since moving to MOLA, I’ve been learning how to roll out such policies and other initiatives at a much broader scale. So for those of you who are interested in the process of development of something like this, which has organisation-wide implications, not to mention impacts on MOLA’s many followers, we created a very early rough draft last summer. (Note that the Code sits alongside a MOLA internal social media policy.) It went through several versions and then was circulated simultaneously to our leadership team and to representatives of key groups in the organisation (e.g., our Network for Ethnically Diverse Staff, our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Working Group). A new draft was then circulated to the full engagement team (around 25 people), who are at the front lines of our public work. Further edits were made and a final round of feedback was sought from those who had provided extensive input into the process.

The current version of the Code has

  • Revised wording to be clear about what we will not tolerate, and to increase the readability of the code
  • Headings for different sections of the code to make it easier to digest, and to group together common themes
  • A specific section that makes clear who our audiences should contact if they have concerns or want to report matters that we haven’t yet attended to
  • New points about the occasional instances in which we might screenshot and archive posts, when these screenshots would be anonymised (most of the time), and when they would not be anonymised (if documenting threatening or discriminatory behaviour)
  • A point to acknowledge that in commenting on or otherwise engaging with others’ posts, MOLA may draw more attention to individuals. If they experience problems, we ask them to contact us so we can do our best to support them
  • An extension to include other platforms like the CITiZAN app where audiences are contributing content that could be threatening or discriminatory to others or to MOLA’s own team
  • An extended distribution plan to account for suggestions from staff about making better use of pinned posts, profile descriptions, and client networks and professional documents
  • A section in the code that makes it clear what we consider reasonable working hours for those engaged in monitoring our platforms
  • A point about personal privacy to make explicit what would happen if particular forms of personal data are shared

Per the bullets above, we created a distribution plan that also went through several rounds of development and elaboration. With this in mind, we will see the code included in inductions, in our training programmes, in future media skills development sessions, and in documentation for clients and collaborators.

I wanted to give a special shout out to Emily Wilkes, the CITiZAN team, the Thames Discovery Programme team, and our new Head of Communications, Andrew Henderson-Schwartz, who were essential in bringing the code into being. If you have questions, ideas or past experience in embedding such codes into everyday practice, I really welcome your feedback, as do the team at MOLA.