User experience design in archaeology and cultural heritage

Join us to refine user experience design models and toolkits for the archaeology and heritage sector…

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  • Are you designing digital resources for different archaeological users – specialists and wider audiences alike?
  • Do you deploy – or do you want to deploy – methods from the UX (user experience) and participatory design fields?
  • What workflows do you follow in iteratively developing your digital outputs? How are end users and stakeholders involved throughout these workflows?
  • What evaluation methodologies are you using to assess the successes and failures of your digital work with diverse audiences?

Please join us to explore these questions (and more!) in our Roundtable Session #S36 on User Experience Design in Archaeology & Cultural Heritage at the CAA International Conference in Kraków, Poland, 23-27 April, 2019.

We welcome all contributors who are working to integrate archaeological/heritage data and digital platforms into experiences that are truly tailored to the needs and expectations of their users.

We seek to discuss your iterative methodologies, your users’ experiences, and your lessons-learned in order to develop a more concerted user experience design model & toolkit for the archaeology and heritage sector.

The full abstract for our roundtable is pasted below. This is a discussion-focused session and papers should be ‘flash’ in nature – i.e., no more than 10 minutes – and will be pre-circulated to allow us to delve into specifics during moderated discussion periods.

Deadline for submission of abstracts is Wednesday 10 October 2018.

To apply: Submit an abstract of no more than 250 words, excluding session title, author names, affiliations, and email addresses as well as 3 – 5 keywords. Please go to the CAA conference website to log-in and submit your paper abstract by clicking here. You will need to log-in by going to User Home, clicking on CAA 2019 and then looking for the Submission link at the bottom of the page under the Conference Information header. You can select our session #S36 from the Track drop-down menu.

This roundtable is sponsored by the EU COST ACTION network ARKWORK: https://www.arkwork.eu/

For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact Francesca Dolcetti, me, or Rachel Opitz.

We hope you can join us!


User Experience Design in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage (Session 36)

Francesca Dolcetti (University of York), Rachel Opitz (University of Glasgow), Sara Perry (University of York)

Despite the widespread dissemination of digital tools and applications in both archaeology and heritage, relatively little is known about their real effectiveness and impact on diverse audiences (specialists and lay publics alike). A new iterative design workflow, involving end users and stakeholders from the outset, as well as an accompanying design evaluation methodology, may open new avenues for engagement while, at once, constructively influencing our research objectives and epistemologies.

In this Roundtable session, we seek to bring together a multidisciplinary group looking at different aspects of archaeological knowledge production to discuss theoretical and methodological issues in the field of participatory design and user experience, and to foster a critical understanding of how this knowledge is used and its social impact. Our aim is to convene researchers and practitioners in a dialogue that is focused on examples of interdisciplinary co-creation and user testing of Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Realities (AR, VR, and MR) and related digitally-mediated experiences for museums, archaeological and cultural heritage sites, and varied teaching and research contexts. We are particularly interested in practical experiences around how to integrate archaeological data, storytelling and digital platforms to create experiences truly tailored to the needs and expectations of users.

The format of this Roundtable is a series of flash position papers (10 minutes maximum) followed by periods of moderated discussion. The session concludes with an open floor discussion and a wrap-up report summarising the discussion and suggesting follow-up activities. Position papers will be submitted in advance to the session chairs and shared with all panelists. The session welcomes participants from different sectors including but not limited to digital humanities, archaeology, museology, design research and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI).


 

What does it mean to do good archaeological interpretation?

Some reflections for Cambridge University Press on how we might foster creative & critical interpretations of the archaeological record in the field…

www.conchproject.org
Screenshot from Cambridge University Press of my blog post on doing good archaeological interpretation. The photo features some of our CONCH Project collaborators at Uzikwasa’s offices in Pangani, Tanzania, July 2018: http://www.conchproject.org

After the publication of my heritage interpretation article last month, I had the good fortune of being recommended by the Society for American Archaeology as ‘article of the month’. Yay! This has allowed me to publish a follow up blog post that elaborates on some of my argument (and responds to certain critiques). It’s also triggered a month of open access to the original journal article, which you can read or download here.

My blog post offers examples of some of the most inspiring work that I’ve been exposed to recently. Please read about it here, and if you have time to recommend other interesting and innovative examples of field-based interpretative experimentation, I’d be excited & grateful to hear from you!

I’d also like to acknowledge the following individuals who helped me to further think through aspects of my argument (although, of course, they are not responsible for the contents of my blog post!): Tessa Poller, Oliver Harris, John Swogger, Francesco Ripanti, Peter Dunn, James Dixon, Chris Walker, Bill Caraher and Harald Fredheim.

Six Fieldwork Expectations: Code of conduct for teams on field projects

My living document for guiding my own and my teams’ experiences on fieldwork.

the-team
Team members Jess and Emmeline work together to install signage in Çatalhöyük’s replica houses in summer 2017 – part of a very collaborative & fun recent field season! (Photo courtesy of Ashley Fisher)

UPDATE – 6 JULY 2018

After receiving much significant feedback from practitioners around the world, I’ve updated this code of conduct.

Specifically:

>> I’ve made changes to the wording of points #4 and #6 to clarify my intent, to acknowledge more clearly where responsibility lies, and to reiterate the professionalism that should underlie all aspects of field practice.

>> I’ve changed the name of this blog post – and the code overall – to reflect the fact that it is seemingly relevant to all field projects, not merely to archaeology and heritage. (Thanks to the many of you from different disciplines who’ve encouraged me to do this.)

>> I’ve added links to several additional resources authored by others that have been recommended to me. These relate to specific matters that have affected my teams or colleagues, but for which I’ve previously lacked meaningful guidance. I hope to be able to integrate these directly into the code after I’ve had an opportunity to apply their recommendations in the field. If you have further links to share, please send them to me & I’ll add them!

>> I’ve created a Google Doc with the revised code of conduct in full, which you can access here and use in your own practice if it seems appropriate. If you implement it or modify it, I’d be really appreciative if you could let me know what worked and what didn’t. I’d like to keep track of this and ideally build a repository of best practice. NOTE: the Elizabeth Castle Project has done just this, modifying the code in a way that helpfully specifies the responsibilities of different groups of participants, and adding a couple more important points.

I’m very grateful to everyone who has circulated this code and provided truly constructive critique. I would like to explicitly thank Claire BoardmanCat Cooper, Sue Ann McCarty, Sarah May, Gabe MoshenskaLucy Shipley, and Dav Smith for taking the time to guide me towards relevant materials or otherwise help me rethink the phrasing I’ve used. I hope I’ve done justice to their generous feedback. 


 

Like many archaeologists, I am readying for a summer of fieldwork abroad in multiple places with various teams. The issue of how to prepare one’s team members for these fieldwork opportunities is something that’s often on my mind, and I’ve been prompted to think critically about my approach lately, as a result of three productive influencing forces.

Firstly, I’m enrolled on a leadership training programme at York (Leadership in Action), which I’ve found very meaningful so far, and which has forced me to revisit (and be coached through) some of my most challenging supervisory experiences. These are experiences that are now past, but I still ruminate on them, continuously questioning my actions and wishing I could turn back time to negotiate them in a more skilled fashion. My leadership training has encouraged me to think about the expectations that I set for myself and others (then, now and for the future), and how I communicate these to everyone who’s implicated, and how to enforce them when things go off track.

Secondly, I was very affected by reading Lisa Westcott Wilkins’ recent post ‘Notes from the Unemployable’ where, amongst other important matters, she discusses the Learning Agreement that DigVentures (DV) has drawn up for their students. As Lisa writes, “The ‘Dignity on Site’ part of this agreement is also signed by every staff member, subcontractor, and dig participant that comes into our orbit,” effectively turning the document into a set of expectations – a code of conduct – to which everyone is bound. I’ve been really inspired by the language and scope that DV have adopted here, and it prompted me to pull out the Fieldwork Expectations (copied below) that I drafted last year for use with my own teams. I prepared this after a challenging fieldwork season in Egypt when I realised I had few guidelines and had been naively operating primarily on trust. After reading DV’s agreement, I’ve now tweaked my own document to broaden its focus, adding points around witnessing (alongside being subjected to – or perpetrating) threatening behaviours, and extending the agreement to include online and mobile phone-based engagements in the field too. I’d encourage you to read DV’s agreement, because I’d previously struggled to find any models that I felt were useable or adaptable for me (indeed my university had no guidance at all at the time).

Thirdly, I’ve been speaking with a great friend and colleague at York who is preparing for her own fieldwork this summer with a large and diverse team. We discussed the options for codes of conduct, and it’s encouraged me to publish my own Six Fieldwork Expectations below for your thoughts and *constructive* feedback. I’m interested to make this agreement more robust – I consider it a living document in the sense that I aim to renew it each year and with each new team of collaborators. Please don’t hesitate to share your respectful ideas about what’s worked for you and what you’ve seen applied successfully elsewhere…


 

Six fieldwork expectations.

First published 4 May 2018. Revised 1 June 2018.

(1) We are committed to working as a team. All aspects of our professional contributions to the project are discussed and agreed upon together, and all tasks – although they might be led by individual team members – are developed through collaborative practice. Devotion to supporting the team, working as a team player, providing constructive critique to your team members, and respecting the interests of the team as a successful working group (without compromising their safety or security, as described below), are paramount.

(2) We are committed to prioritising and championing the people and communities that host us. Our work is driven by local needs, and decision-making is grounded in evidence and robust data gathered in local contexts. We are critically aware of the existing evidence. We attend events and participate in activities that are organised by our host communities. We respect, care for and create long-lasting friendships with our hosts. We aim to abide by local expectations around dress and custom, and if working in communities where the primary language is not our own, we are committed to learning the language. We maintain links with our hosts after the project ends and we support their future professional endeavours.

(3) We are committed to the working hours, professional expectations and responsibilities defined by the overall project directors. We typically work as part of a larger project team guided by wider goals than ours alone. We are aware of their responsibilities, we have read the necessary guidance documents, we have understood and signed the necessary insurance and risk assessment documentation, and in all cases, we respect and abide by the instructions given by the directors. This includes zero tolerance in relation to behaviour that compromises the wellbeing, equality, security or dignity of other human beings, as described below.

(4) We are representatives and extensions of the University of York and its staff, and of the professional bodies to which we and our project leaders are subscribed. We recognise our duty of care to, and our responsibility for professionalism in, not only the communities where we work and reside, but the university and host of surrounding organisations to which we and our project leaders are accountable. Our behaviours reflect on these institutions and we acknowledge that our direct supervisor is (and therefore we too are) bound by the ethical and professional codes of both York and her other institutional affiliations (the Society for American Archaeology, the American Anthropological Association, the European Association of Archaeologists, the CAA: Computer Applications & Quantitative Methods in Archaeology). Considering these obligations, you agree with the following:

I will come to my direct supervisor the moment that I experience problems, challenges or trouble of any kind. I will keep her informed of any issues that I feel may manifest themselves in relation to myself, my teammates or affiliates while in the field. If I feel I need support beyond my direct supervisor, I will turn to the 2nd lead for their advice. I have already disclosed to my direct supervisor any potential matters of concern (which may include matters relating to health, psychological and physical wellbeing, security, equality, confidence, interpersonal relations, previous travel or fieldwork experiences, etc.) so that she is aware of them and can mitigate them prior to departing for – and during – fieldwork. If I have not yet disclosed such matters, I agree to do so as soon as possible. I have shared this information in confidence, with an expectation of complete privacy unless urgent medical, safety/security or other legal intervention is required.

(5) We recognise that fieldwork can be intense, emotional and tiring. We understand that things can go wrong, that we may need to compromise, and that in exceptional circumstances, we made need to shorten or modify your work on site to help manage these circumstances. In such cases, we will have a series of conversations about how to deal with difficulties, led by your direct supervisor and/or the 2nd identified lead. If the difficulties are not resolved within 7 days of identification, we will consult with the university for their guidance. If it is agreed with the university that the difficulties are unresolvable in the field, we will help you to organise your safe return home.

(6) We have the right to a safe, secure and non-threatening working and living environment. We do not tolerate any form of discriminatory, abusive, aggressive, harassing, threatening, sexually- or physically-intimidating, or related problematic behaviours that compromise the wellbeing, equality, security or dignity of other human beings (whether those humans are our peers, colleagues, supervisors, collaborators, local community members or any persons at all). Our supervisors are trained in supporting those who have experienced or are experiencing harassment. They are obliged to investigate and respond to observed, implied or directly reported harassment. Considering this zero-tolerance policy, you agree to the following:

I will not engage in behaviour that compromises the wellbeing, equality, security or dignity of other human beings. I recognise that if I am implicated in such behaviour I will be required to leave the project at my own expense and may be subject to criminal investigation.

If I witness others being subjected to such behaviour, I will report it immediately to my direct supervisor. If I feel I cannot speak to my direct supervisor, I will report it to the 2nd identified lead. If I feel I cannot report it to either my direct supervisor or the 2nd lead, then I will contact the University of York Department of Archaeology’s Manager.

If I myself feel unsafe or uncomfortable, I will report it immediately to my direct supervisor. My supervisor will support me and will implement actions to keep me safe while working to stop the behaviour. If I feel I cannot speak to my direct supervisor, I will report it to the 2nd identified lead. If I feel I cannot report it to either my direct supervisor or the 2nd lead, then I will contact the University of York Department of Archaeology’s Manager.

My commitment to creating and maintaining safety and security for all extends to my online (web and social media) and mobile phone interactions, and I recognise that the process for reporting and acting on threatening online/mobile phone behaviours is the same as above.

Direct Supervisor (name and contact): ……………………………………………………………

2nd Lead (name and contact): …………………………………………………………………………

Department of Archaeology Manager (name and contact): …………………………………


 

Important University of York links.

Health and Safety: https://www.york.ac.uk/archaeology/intranet/dept-info/health-and-safety/

Code of Ethics: https://www.york.ac.uk/staff/research/governance/research-policies/ethics-code/

Code of Practice On Harassment: https://www.york.ac.uk/admin/eo/Harassment/code.htm

Personal Relationships Policy: https://www.york.ac.uk/admin/hr/policies/hr-procedures/personal-relationships/policy/

Drug and Alcohol Policy: https://www.york.ac.uk/admin/hr/policies/health-well-being/alcohol-drug-substance/policy/

 


 

Key resources for fieldwork directors. Please suggest others by contacting me.

Inclusive and representative field practices: 

Alcohol consumption and hosting dry digs:

The Elizabeth Castle Project’s adaptation of this code of conduct for their fieldwork and engagement programme in Jersey: