Keen on digital media applications? Seeking reviewers!

Contribute a (paid) critical review of archaeology-themed digital media to the journal Advances in Archaeological Practice…


I’m very excited to announce that the Society for American Archaeology‘s (SAA) journal Advances in Archaeological Practice has recently launched a new section to appear in all future issues of the publication. We’re calling this section “Digital Reviews”.

You can read more about these Digital Reviews here (via the journal’s online presence) or on my profile. The reviews will be short, critical commentaries on digital media produced for archaeology and heritage audiences. By digital media, I mean any computer-based communication form meant to engage wide groups of people. These could include YouTube videos, podcasts, Snapchat or Facebook or Instagram or Twitter sites, subReddits, TED talks, apps, video-games, blogs and other online forums, digital TV programmes or news channels, online collections, virtual museums, SoundCloud accounts or other audio files delivered through digital means. Effectively any kind of digital communication platform that’s been deployed in the name of archaeology / heritage is open to review.

The intent of these reviews is to critically evaluate archaeologically-themed media with the same rigour as we apply to book reviews. We’re following a model akin to the reviews section of Internet Archaeology, with a concern for the full range of media being produced for public audiences about heritage/archaeology. Every issue will focus on a specific type of media: August’s Advances will feature a review of Minecraft applications at heritage institutions by Eleanor Styles; November’s Advances attends to online news reporting about archaeology, authored by Adrian Maldonado.

We are in the fortunate position of being able to offer authors a payment for their contributions – to be distributed upon final publication of the review in the journal. We’ve established a flat-rate fee for authors, so please approach me if you’d like more detail.

Following publication in the journal, authors can upload an openly-accessible copy of their reviews on their own webpages or other online profile (with credit to Advances in Archaeological Practice as the original publication venue). And we are amenable to any and all suggestions about types of digital media to review. I’m particularly keen to see a selection of impactful heritage-themed blogs, e-books, online collections, virtual museums, YouTube (or other) videos, podcasts (or other audio products), and mobile apps subject to critical reflection through Digital Reviews.

I’ve reprinted our author specifications, as outlined on the SAA’s webpage, below. As I’m now the Digital Reviews Editor for the journal, please contact me if you’re interested in writing a review, if you’d like to talk through possible review subjects, or if you know of others who we might approach to prepare future reviews. Very much looking forward to reading your reflections on archaeology’s various digital applications and otherwise building the presence of the SAA’s Advances in Archaeological Practice journal. I hope to hear from you!

Digital Reviews

Digital Reviews are 1500-2000 word assessments of digital media applications that have been produced to engage general and specialist audiences with archaeology and heritage. Going beyond standard book or exhibition reviews, these commentaries are intended to subject current initiatives directed at archaeology’s digitally-savvy publics to comparison and critical reflection. They might explore discipline-relevant blogs, YouTube videos, virtual reality or augmented reality applications, TED talks, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat sites, web-based crowdsourcing projects, online collections, video games, virtual worlds or other media of interest to wide markets. Review authors will provide constructive, professional and courteous – yet critically-engaged – appraisals of the content, significance and impact of these media. Each review should be oriented around a discussion of one, two or three medium-specific digital initiatives (e.g., mobile apps or virtual museums), briefly summarizing them, contextualizing them against one another (and against related initiatives), and offering thoughtful critique of their presentation, methods, objectives and emotional, physical and intellectual effects upon audiences.

Reviews should be written for a wide readership and at a level that high school students can comprehend. Authors are encouraged to reprint their reviews on their personal or professional webpages (giving clear acknowledgment to Advances in Archaeological Practice as the original publication venue), in order to broaden the reach and accessibility of the commentary. Reviews should (1) rigorously evaluate archaeology’s digital media; (2) showcase to readers the breadth and depth of relevant digital media production today; and (3) provide a space of comparison between – and critical engagement with – such productions to enable others to build upon them.

Objects and Images, Visual Ethics, et al.

I’m off to the field in a couple of weeks and will be free (or deprived, depending on your point of view) of extended use of the internet for much of August.  For that reason, I’ll make a couple of posts in relatively quick succession, summing up what’s been happening lately.  First, Katherine Leckie and I have finalised our session at the European Association of Archaeologists conference in September, and we’re really very excited about the interest that it’s generated, and hence the breadth of contributions.  If you happen to be in The Hague, near the Royal Conservatoire on Friday, 3 Sept, from 9.00-12.30, come see us.  We’ve built in plenty of time for discussion over the course of the morning — here’s a note of the topics and people that you can expect to guide the dialogue:

Objects and images in the history of archaeology

9.00-9.10, Introduction
Katherine Leckie, University of Cambridge, UNITED KINGDOM

9.10-9.25, The visual grammar of ruins: between ‘discovery’ and ‘un-concealment’
Fares Moussa, University of Edinburgh, UNITED KINGDOM

9.25-9.40, The eBusingatha Puzzle: a digital restoration of a painted rock shelter
Justine Wintjes, University of the Witwatersrand, SOUTH AFRICA

9.40-9.55, The Logic of Archaeological Science – Some Remarks on Objects and Images and their rule in early concepts of Archaeological Time
Undine Stabrey, University of Paris I/ Bern, SWITZERLAND

9.55-10.10, The historiography of bracteates and the animal style and its impact on current archaeological studies in Scandinavia
Nancy Wicker, University of Mississippi, UNITED STATES

10.10-10.25, Objects and images: Sir John Beazley’s potters and painters
Tyler Jo Smith, University of Virginia, UNITED STATES

10.25-10.40, Discussion

11.10-11.25, Dr. Bawtree’s Collection: Images and Objects from Indian Sepulchral Pits
Catherine Sutton, York University, CANADA

11.25-11.40, A Museum on Paper
Heather Sebire, English Heritage, UNITED KINGDOM

11.40-11.55, Exploiting the visual: Graphic media and academic archaeology in mid-20th century London
Sara Perry, Southampton University, UNITED KINGDOM

11.55-12.10, “Animal, Vegetable, Mineral?” and its Effect on British Archaeology in the 1950s
Pamela Jane Smith, Mcdonald Institute for Archaeological Research, UNITED KINGDOM

12.10-12.30, Discussion

In other good news, Jonathan Marion and I have learned that the article we’ve prepared on visual ethics (see my discussion of the matter here) has been accepted for publication in Visual Anthropology Review.  We’ve got a couple of additions to make before final submission of the paper (due for print in the fall 2010 issue), but we’re keen to see our efforts on the annual visual ethics roundtables at the American Anthropological Association meetings get translated into print.  We’re always interested to learn how others are grappling with such ethical issues, so please do connect with us about recent and related work.

Lastly, as is evident from the content of my blog, I use this forum to comment on my studies and interests, and describe my various activities, but not to emulate the critically-incisive and methodologically-rich blogging archives of other archaeologists and anthropologists.  Among my favourites are Quentin Mackie @ Northwest Coast Archaeology, and Colleen Morgan @ Middle Savagery, both of whom have been recognised by Archaeology Magazine as top bloggers in the field.  Check them out!