November 13, 2013 § Leave a Comment
One of the great things about being at a university is that you get to dabble in all sorts of things. Some days, I’m a teacher; some days I’m a researcher; some days, I get to be on committees and pretend that I’m in charge of stuff.
Every now and then I get to pretend I’m a public relations man and write copy for some semi-glossy publication published by some administrative office. It’s fun and gratifying to dash off some public relations copy from time to time. (For other attempts see here, here, here, and here)
Here’s my most recent venture into advertising for myself. It’s for The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota:
Digital publishing is like fracking. Thirty years ago the Bakken was all but abandoned by oil companies because the oil was too hard to extract from miles below the earth. The process of hydraulic fracturing changed that and released billions of barrels of oil from the earth and into the North Dakota economy.
A decade ago publishing was at a dead end. Major newspapers struggled to adapt to a world of blogs and social media. Traditional publishers hesitated to embrace to ebooks, open-access publishing, and mix-media publications. As the second decade of the 21st century dawned, however, all this began to change. The struggles of traditional presses to adapt to the digital world and the rapid development of ebook platforms and print-on-demand publishing created opportunities for a new kind of agile, dynamic, and low-cost publishing.
The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota is a foray into the wild west of of digital publishing. Founded by Bill Caraher (History), Joel Jonientz (Art and Design), and Kyle Conway (English/Communications) and housed in the Working Group in Digital and New Media Lab, The Digital Press is an laboratory press exploring ways to bring content developed both on campus and elsewhere to a global audience.
“It’s still early days,” Bill Caraher remarked about The Digital Press, “but we have the basic pieces in place and have a great group of books in production for the first entries in the catalogue. Our plan is to have these books ready for the holidays!”
The Digital Press is an extension of the mission of the Working Group in Digital and New Media which brings scholars from across campus together to explore the digital world at intersection of the arts, sciences, and humanities. The first round of book in the catalogue will feature titles dedicated to Punk Archaeology, local history, and, of course, the Bakken Oil Boom.
“A press is a basic feature of an exceptional university and The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota fulfills many of the key points articulated in the Exceptional UND vision including collaboration among faculty, experience for students, and expanding UND’s presence on a global scale.”
The Digital Press will focus on works that the small editorial staff finds interesting and exciting and wants to share with a larger audience. Plans are underway to do more than just “traditional” paper and ebooks, and to develop a presence in podcasts and other new media forms as well.
Like the Bakken, the world of digital publishing has untapped resources waiting for innovators willing to take risk. The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota is positioning itself to extract the potential from this major new field.
November 12, 2013 § 4 Comments
If you pay attention to quality teaching articles online, then you’ve undoubtedly lingered over Jennifer Roberts’ recent piece in Harvard Magazine. She describes – in a remarkably SoTL free article – how she encourages students to slow down and look carefully at a work of art. She introduces the idea of deceleration as a tonic against the immediacy and spontaneity of the modern world. Invariably the technology is to blame for the distracted and impatient state of our undergraduate students, and Roberts suggested that making students slow down to contemplate a work of art for three hours can serve to train students to focus their attention on details and to see things that we tend to miss in our fast-paced world.
In a couple of recent interviews, anthropologist Tim Ingold reminds us that modern technology – including the tyranny of the keyboard – carries with it risks to how we create and see the world. He prefers to write by hand and requires his students to do so. For Ingold, handwriting has an aesthetic value that challenges the homogenized, regular world of typed work.
Both of these scholars are encouraging our students to slow down and become more aware of their experiences, and this is surely commendable. At the same time, both of the techniques these scholars employ to encourage students to decelerate and become more patient with how they experience the world are not singular discrete actions, but processes embedded within a much larger and complex learning environment. Learning from a painting over three hours is not something that most students are prepared to do. To make this a meaningful exercise, students have internalized a series of little acts of viewing that they can repeat for a sustained period of time. For students to benefit from an exercise in handwriting they have to know how to produce a handwritten text. This involves additional steps of planning, composing, and revising that most students raised in the computer era have not internalized.
Putting aside the issues of who has 3 hours to do anything in this world, I do think that the skills associated with careful and patient observation are scalable to real world situations. Sustained iterative engagements with texts, objects, and problems is a learned skill.
I have thought rather informally about some of the issues of that Ingold and Roberts sought to explode in their methods in my own classes. I agree with them that the pace of the class and of any given activity is an important component of student engagement. My approach was, however, has been the opposite of Roberts’ but I’d like to think had a similar goal. Instead of slowing the student engagement with the course material down, I have worked to speed it up. As I have blogged about in the past, I took some inspiration from Chip Kelly’s uptempo football practices at the University of Oregon. Instead of walking players slowly and deliberately though formations and plays, he taught his offense almost entirely at game speed. When players required additional coaching, he would rotate the player out of the drill and substitute another play in at that position allowing the drills to continue at top speed. Kelly’s system encouraged players to think quickly, to adapt, and to build conditioning at game pace. While this might appear completely opposite to Roberts’ deliberate and patient observation, I’d argue that both methods use pace to make their charges more away of how they engage the world.
To make this happen in my classes, I’ve worked to break assignments into smaller parts and to compress the time allowed for these short assignments as a way to keep students on task. By keeping the class “up tempo” I attempt to drive out the opportunity for distractions. Some of my colleagues complain that students surf the net, Facebook, or text during class. My usual response is to ask why the students have time to do things like that.
Like so much in teaching, I suspect putting students in a place to think consciously about how they engage their own learning is more important than how they actually learn. Being conscious of how we pace learning and alternating between rapid exercises and sustained activities that draw upon these same techniques provides a disciplined environment
November 11, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Two interesting articles landed on my desk over the last few days. D. Pullen’s report in the Journal of Maritime Archaeology on the site of Kalamianos in the the Korinthia and Justin Leidwanger’s article in Journal of Roman Archaeology documented a 2nd-3rd century shipwreck at the site of Fig Tree Bay on Cyprus.
Pullen argues that the impressive coastal site of Kalamianos represented interest of Mycenae in establishing a harbor on the Saronic Gulf in the Late Bronze Age. Situated adjacent to the site of Kolonna on Aigina and perhaps representing the decline in that polity’s political and military influence in the area, Kalamianos was a substantial and apparently urbanized (ing?) site situated at a peninsula that provided two relatively secure anchorages. Above the anchorages near the important Byzantine church of the Panayia at a place called Stiri stood a contemporary fortified site. This site clearly provided security for the harbor town as well as offering impressive views of the Saronic and its coastlines.
The site of Kalamianos expanded rapidly between LH IIIA to the LH IIIA2/B period, and Pullen suggests that the growth of this town must have been spurred by an external power, probably Mycenae, at this precise moment. The similarities in construction and architecture of both the site of Kalamianos and the nearby fortified site of Stiri as well as the site’s location suggests that Kalamianos established a Mycenaean presence on the Saronic perhaps to compete with a similar, contemporary site a Palaia Epidavros to further south which likely served the needs of states at Tiryns, Asine, or Midea.
In contrast, the world described in Justin Leidwanger’s study of the small shipwreck at Fig Tree Bay in eastern Cyprus was shaped, in part, by small scale coastal commerce that depended upon local producers, small harbors, and small ships. The shipwreck documented by Leidwanger was a mere 5.5 tons and found in shallow waters amidst shallow reefs and eddying currents. The maritime world represented in the small wreck at Fig Tree Bay was substantially decentralized and dominated caboteurs. The range of amphora in the ship suggest that its contents derived from the coast of Cilicia or southwest Syria, but the presence of relatively unusual amphora (Gauloise 4) suggests ties to Western Mediterranean as well. The destination for these vessels was unclear, but I’d like to think it planned to stop at Pyla-Koutsopetria before making its way along the south coast of the island. It seems likely that the assemblage of material onboard this small trading craft reflects stops at small ports throughout the region.
These two article represent the two prevailing (and in no way mutually exclusive) models of maritime trade. Pullen argues for Kalamianos that administrative and political imperatives exerted a significant control of trade in the Saronic Gulf, and the rapid growth and short life of Kalamianos is a direct result of Mycenaean policies. Our site of Pyla-Koutsopetria near Fig Tree Bay on Cyprus likewise expanded quickly in the late Hellenistic and Roman period. The location of Pyla-Koutsopetria at the margins of the of the powerful Iron Age kingdoms of Kition and Salamis limited its development. The site’s location was both militarily vulnerable, as the fortification at Pyla-Vigla demonstrated, but the presence of borders in the area likely limited the economic catchment available for the development of the harbor. The political, administrative, and economic restrictions on expansion of the site only abated with the end of the Iron Age political autonomy and the arrival of Hellenistic and Roman control over the island. The site does not seem to have ever been officially part of the larger administrative structure of the island. The small coastal trader who lost his ship at Fig Tree Bay was taking advantage of the political cohesion of the Eastern Mediterranean and stoping at small sites like Pyla-Koutsopetria that emerged outside of direct administrative control.
November 8, 2013 § Leave a Comment
The slow slide from Fall into Winter seems to have accelerated this week in North Dakotaland. The mornings are below freezing and yesterday we enjoyed a short snow shower.
Soon, we will get to that place where we have to deliberately go outside and it becomes easier to relax, read, and write by the fire than the brave the elements. In the spirit of that transition, I offer a short list of quick hits and varia.
- R.I.P. Henry Boren. I never met the man, but his Roman Society (1977) was my first Roman history textbook in college. It opened up the world of antiquity to me in new ways.
- New Cyprian Broodbank: The Making of the Middle Sea (2013).
- A nice primer on how to use Stanford’s ORBIS tool in the classroom.
- A cool article on Pontic Greek.
- The Acropolis Museum in Googles (h/t Dimitri Nakassis).
- Have you checked out this week’s 3D Thursday? If you haven’t, you should.
- This is an interesting (and vaguely disturbing way) to think about the impact of scholars.
- And, have you checked out the survey data from the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project on Open Context?
- Punk Sociology? Excuse me?
- This is not news.
- The end of a Waffle House.
- Notes on Coltrane’s A Love Supreme.
- Town as a panopticon.
- Provisional discard.
- And if you’re into that stuff, you should definitely support 99% Invisible’s Kickstarter campaign for season 4.
- What I’m reading: T. Tartaron, Maritime Networks in the Mycenaean World. (2013)
- What I’m listening to: Death Cab for Cutie, Transatlanticism; Los Campesinos! Now Blues.
November 7, 2013 § 2 Comments
This is the ninth in a series of posts exploring 3D modeling in Mediterranean and European archaeology. For more in this series click here. We hope these papers will start a discussion either in the comments of the blog or on Twitter using the #3DMedArch hashtag.
Andrew Reinhard, Director of Publications, American School of Classical Studies at Athens
I have been the Director of Publications for the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA) for just over three years, and am responsible for publishing our quarterly journal, Hesperia, as well as excavation monographs for Ancient Corinth, the Athenian Agora, and affiliated sites, plus Hesperia Supplements on special archaeological topics, as well as guidebooks and limited series. The views that I express in this post are my own, but it is my hope that various, official ASCSA boards and committees will agree with me on at least some of these points, creating new policy and modifying the old, as the press works with archaeologists to create the next generation of archaeological publications.
Historically archaeology has been limited (and some could argue continues to be limited) to two-dimensional publication in print. Journals and monographs are traditionally printed and include commentary, catalogue, concordances, various front and back matter, tables, photographs of objects and of sites (mostly black-and-white, but occasionally color), drawings (plans, sections, profiles, etc.), and maps.
In recent years, some journals and books have been released as “digital editions” onto platforms such as JSTOR, Cambridge Journals Online, and through various publisher websites. By and large, these digital editions do not take advantage of any of the possibilities afforded by appearing on the Internet, being merely one-to-one digital reproductions of their original print counterparts. Readers can choose to read articles in print or on-screen. Those readers who opt to read on-screen do so either because they are traveling (or are away from their offices/libraries), or because their libraries only have digital versions of publications. These digital publications are either served online in an HTML page-view or as PDFs, occasionally in other formats, rarely sharable or even printable because of outdated digital rights management (DRM) and copy protection “safeguards”. In the case of PDFs (and devices and apps used to read them), readers are generally unaware of added functionality offered to these “flat” publications: document-searching, bookmarking, note-taking, emailing. I argue that for your average reader of archaeological scholarship, they are, and will remain oblivious, stuck in Flatland, unable to comprehend all the practicality that extra-dimensional publication can offer (and is already beginning to offer).
Taking the aforementioned elements of print publication of archaeological material, let us first apply a three-dimensional filter, followed by a fourth-dimensional one:
It would seem obvious that text is text, that it is by its nature two-dimensional. The writer writes what the reader reads. Writing an article or a monograph is a one-way form of communication. However, if one extracts this text from its two-dimensional setting and places it online, that text has the native ability to become something more. The content gains context. One can embed links reaching out to Open Access data repositories for people- and place-data. Making this publication available online also facilitates linking in the opposite direction, making the author’s content discoverable by anyone in the world, provided the text is given a stable URI. Widgets are now available that enable readers to roll over a placename and retrieve a pop-up window with a map and data along with a clickable link. In time, I hope to see a similar widget crawl through bibliographies and citations in notes, allowing readers to reference cited material as they proceed through the book or article. How often have you, as a reader, wished to check a reference or look up a place, but have instead put it off, not wanting to trek to the library or even run a Google search? Embedding these links and reading tools are a service to readers and are becoming increasingly easy to implement from an author’s/publisher’s perspective.
This “multi-dimensional” text takes what is good about the printed word, and adds practical improvements that help deliver more robust content more quickly to the reader:
Note-taking on the printed page is limited to the space in the margins or between the lines. Note-taking on a digital document allows for notes of massive length that can then be emailed/shared outside of that document. If you lose your book, you lose your notes. Digital editions allow you to save a “clean” copy as well as an annotated copy, and if you email/share your comments, losing your annotated copy is only an inconvenience, not a disaster.
What if we could go one step further, making the author’s primary text “four-dimensional?” In physics, three dimensions incorporate length, width, and depth. Add time to a three-dimensional thing, and it now has a fourth-dimension. All objects exist in space-time, and as the arrow of time moves us forward year by year, those three-dimensional objects change. While this observation will be more readily applied to imaging artifacts, we can apply the four-dimensional concept to an author’s text.
A published monograph is like a finished temple. It’s as good as the makers can produce at the time. As time moves along, things happen to the building. It can receive additions. It can be shored up. It might be demolished, lending its parts as spolia to other structures in future times. As archaeologists, we can also reduce the structure to its individual parts, seeing how the whole was completed, and also understanding how that building changed over time, from realized vision to revered monument, or derelict footprint.
It is a misconception that a published monograph or article is the “final publication” of archaeological material. Upon publication, that text (and its related content of photos, maps, tables, etc.) becomes the starting point for rigorous discussion and dialogue. In the past, some journals have published rebuttals to earlier articles in later issues, a kind of time-delayed chess match. By integrating online publication with mature social networking/commentary technology, those discussions can be opened to a global audience. Should a counter-argument be made successfully, it is also possible for the author to make a change to the main text, or to add new bibliography, and to update notes over time, keeping current with future scholarship. The content of the published piece must change over time, and opening that content up to scrutiny can help to either preserve and promote excellent scholarship, or to mend, repair, or demolish research.
Seeing text as four-dimensional also allows the readers to uncover the foundations of an archaeological publication. In the instances of preliminary excavation reports or “final” reports of a class of objects from a site, I would strongly urge authors to provide their readers with complete data sets. This data can be checked, and can be used as a reference by readers. Should errors be discovered in the math and logic of tables, these can be corrected right away. And should there be a difference of opinion between author and reader, the data can be consulted, and a dialogue started. With traditional publication, the reader is presented with the author’s interpretation of the data, and that interpretation might or might not be reliable and might include biases, either conscious or unconscious. Opening up the data, and opening up the dialogue can help an author’s argument become more objective.
A mixture of text and graphical elements (i.e., lines, shading, etc.), tables convey quantifiable data to support the author’s arguments, and to also relay in a readable form what was found over the course of a season, or of a decades-long excavation. In two-dimensional publishing, the table is printed on the page, or over one or several spreads, with a caption, headings, and notes. In three-dimensional online publishing, that table becomes a live data element able to be manipulated by the reader. With an interactive table, one can choose to sort data within columns, can rearrange columns, and can conceivably perform mathematic operations with the data, treating the table like a live spreadsheet. It’s likely that readers will have questions that the author did not think to ask, and providing the data in this interactive way can help readers ask and answer queries independent of the author’s commentary on the static table.
Dealing with data than cat be played with in a tabular format is not enough. To be a truly useful, living archaeological publication, its tables need to become four-dimensional, introducing the time element. Archaeology is notoriously messy and inexact, and our publications do their best to make sense of the mess. It’s likely that some material gets left out of a publication for whatever reason, or in the case of some excavations, material (e.g., lamps, coins, etc.) that is assigned only covers a range of years from that excavation. Any material excavated after the time period assigned to one researcher is dumped into a future publication. With an online “monograph”, newly recovered material (or material from years after an original assignment) can be added to the data set from which our interactive tables produce information for the reader. By allowing a publication to remain open, new data can be entered upon discovery.
These kinds of edits and on-the-fly make it difficult to identify the “version of record,” that version which is cited by other scholars when completing their own research. I propose that we follow the model used in wikis where a date/time-stamp and author ID are assigned whenever a page changes, and that the researchers citing that page include the date on which that page was accessed. If that is too extreme, then perhaps the software model can be followed wherein iterations (updates) are assigned incremental numbers whenever something changes in the code.
Maps work perfectly well in two-dimensional, print publications, but being able to bring them online in 3-D is a necessity, especially when trying to understand the topography of a settlement, city, or region. By visualizing the geographic setting, both authors and readers can begin to draw conclusions about the placement of settlements (or structures within them), and how they relate to natural features in the landscape. Authors can also choose to indicate on maps where artifacts were recovered, where features like graves, pits, wells, etc., are located, all on a sliding scale for granularity depending on the kind of access granted to the reader. It’s possible that sensitive data such as findspots can be abused, so it may be that some level of security will need to be supplied to screen readers, or more simply, the excavation, its authors, and the publisher exercise common sense in determining how fine a grain is good enough for most readers while giving them the option to contact the excavation for permission to access to-the-centimeter map data.
While three-dimensional maps are crucial to archaeological publications, again, adding the element of time to online maps should be required. Some sites existed for periods of months or years, while others spanned decades, centuries, and millennia. For those sites that have experienced long periods of occupation, their maps should include a “timeline slider”. Readers can use the slider to watch the site change dynamically from decade to decade, period to period. Stopping time on the map, one can then observe features, and could conceivably tap or click on those to drill down to more information. As excavation proceeds and more data are collected and published, these maps will change automatically, including the new data input by the excavators over the course of a season. Three-dimensional maps are important and provide a snapshot of a site or region in time, but making the maps temporally dynamic can provide maximum use for readers and they consider new questions or conceive new hypotheses based on their observations of the maps and the data they provide.
Traditional, two-dimensional drawings are extraordinarily useful when communicating the profile of pottery, of the preserved letter forms in an inscription in stone, and designs and decorations, among other things. Print publications make frequent use of these, complementing the black-and-white drawings with black-and-white photos (aka “halftones”) that provide additional visual data of excavations and their artifacts either as they are, or as they were. Printing in color is expensive, and archaeologists are often charged by their publishers should they wish to have some “art” appear in color for their article or book. It would seem that economics has had an adverse effect on imaging archaeology in print, preventing color from being used when it might have provided additional (or different) data not communicated from an image in grayscale. Online publication completely removes economics from the decision-making process of choosing whether something should be illustrated in color or not.
I defer to other authors whom Bill Caraher has invited to write about 3-D archaeology and imaging to write about how they use it and the technologies employed to create 3-D maps, scans, reproductions, etc. It should be obvious to the reader that a 3-D scan of an artifact provides information that a 2-D drawing or photograph cannot. There are Open Source utilities now available that can rotate two-dimensional pottery profiles, creating a three-dimensional image to allow the reader to fully visualize what pottery, lamps, etc., would have looked like in the round. The problem remains that even with three-dimensional views and reconstructions, they are still viewed through two-dimensional media: screens. This is not unlike printing a three-dimensional image in a book, although at least with online 3-D imagery, one can pan/zoom/rotate.
I propose that for 3-D images to be truly useful to the reader, that they be printed via 3-D printers, based on printer specs provided to the reader by the author/publisher. Imagine printing your own set of plates, or printing bones/fragments, or even a scale model of a house or temple. Traditional photography and drawing work well when providing their data via traditional, two-dimensional media. 3-D imaging, to be most useful, should require either 3-D printing, or the use of glasses or headgear such as Oculus Rift to provide an immersive 3-D experience.
As for four-dimensional aspects of imaging, it’s possible to include the time element when looking at a site over a period of years as it has undergone excavation, or in some cases, how a city has grown around an ancient monument. For 3-D reconstructions, a time slider could be used to view reconstructions of buildings or settlements throughout different periods. There are likely other applications that I’m missing, but I suspect others have already posed this question and come up with answers.
With digital imaging in electronic publications, there is one major issue that must be considered: scale. In a print monograph, the publisher sizes an image on the page and then prints the scale of the object in the image caption. Some publishers opt to include scale bars in their images, while others crop the scale bar out, relying on the caption to tell the reader what the size of the object pictured is. Because the printed page is static, the image size never changes. On e-readers, however (including smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktop computers, and e-book readers), the “page” and the image are resized constantly. Printing the scale in a caption doesn’t help, and leaving the scalebar in the image approaches the ridiculous as either tiny or large depending on how the reader resizes a drawing or photo. It may be possible to create a widget that dynamically changes the scale of the image based on its relative size on a screen. As a reader increases an image’s size for a better look at a detail, the scale would change from 1:3 to 3:1. Until that happens (unless it already has), readers might have to go on the measurements of an imaged artifact that are printed in the body or catalogue text and then eyeball the image to guestimate its actual size.
One potentially unexpected barrier to publishing archaeological material fully (and freely) online is that of image permissions. Countries such as Greece and Turkey have yet to update their guidelines for image permissions to include the current state of digital and online publication, especially for scholarly purposes. Greece’s Archaeological Receipts Fund (TAP) currently defines an electronic publication as a webpage and makes no provision for e-books or other kinds of digital media. It’s either a website, or it isn’t, and if it is, you can have permission to post that image for a maximum of three years before Greece, as the rights-holder of any image taken of any monument/artifact in-country, requires you to take it down. On the form to request permission from Greece to publish an image of a monument or artifact via digital media is language stating to the effect that it might take months for the bureaucracy to consider the application at which point it could either be rejected or a permissions fee assessed. There is little hope in Greece’s current state that this issue will be addressed; it’s the least of that country’s worries.
Archaeology is messy, and it deals with three-dimensional artifacts in four-dimensional space-time. Its publications should reflect that. At our current level of technology, it is possible to create archaeological publications in an open, online environment that incorporates text, 2- and 3-D imagery, interactive 2- and 3-D maps, and interactive data sets, and omni-directional links to content and context managed by others. Our new publications must incorporate all of these elements to create a record and interpretation of what we have discovered, leaving that data and interpretation open to criticism, dialogue, and growth over time. Universities, archaeological field schools, and publishers need to make a concerted effort to educate archaeologists to the potential provided by new media and existing technology as it can serve to document work done. The editor’s role should be to apply standards and style, to fact-check, to clean up inconsistencies, to verify and standardize notes and bibliography, at which point it can be published, handed over to the crowd for the necessary, but until now missing step of post-publication peer review.
November 6, 2013 § Leave a Comment
This week has turned into some pretty exciting for me. If you’re in the area, you should certainly drop by O’Kelly Hall 203 between 11 and 1 to see the Working Group in Digital and New Media’s Open House. I am very fortunate to have a collegial and creative group of people in the Working Group and it is always exciting to see what they’re doing.
First, POTTERY. We’re getting closer and closer to having the full dataset from the survey component of the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project published by Open Context. I’ve blogged about this already here and here. While everything is not quite ready with the data, Eric Kansa and the Open Context team has generously made a version of our data available to show off at the Working Group open house this afternoon. You can check it out here.
I will blog about this at greater length next week, but I am very excited to continue to work with the Open Context team to make more of our archaeological data available. I can already envision the data from the Ohio Boeotia Expedition, the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey, The Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project Excavations at Vigla and Koutsopetria, Princeton Polis Expedition’s work in the area of E.F2, and even (gasp) the North Dakota Man Camp Project. This will, of course, require the permissions and cooperation of a whole group of scholars as well as an infusion of resources for the tedious task of processing the data, but the potential is enormous.
Next, PUNK. Every day The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota gets one step closer to publishing its first volume: Punk Archaeology. Yesterday, I reviewed some cover art produced by the talented, flexible, and punk Joel Jonientz.
At first, I didn’t get it. I thought: what the hell does a bowling pin have to do with punk archaeology? Then Joel pointed out that bowling is punk, and I began to think about the bowling pin as a good representation of the mundane objects often studied (and elevated to iconic status) by archaeologists. I mean, is a bowling pin any less intrinsically interesting than, say, a transport amphora or a cooking pot?
In fact, years ago Kostis Kourelis mentioned the Built-In Ashtray project in the context of punk archaeology at his blog. I also couldn’t help thinking of the mundane objects associated with Damien Hirst’s nearly contemporary installation titled School: The Archaeology of Lost Desires, Comprehending Infinity and the Search for Knowledge which includes a comfortable chair, ashtrays, sausages, live birds, and, of course, sides of beef. It is also hard not to think about David Macaulay’s Motel of the Mysteries in this context as well. Published at the dawn of the punk era (1979), this work presents a fictional account of an excavation of a motel archaeologists from the future who ponder the ritual significance of every day objects.
So, as I reflected more, I began to think that the bowling pin is the quintessential object of punk archaeology and perfect avatar for our movement.
November 5, 2013 § Leave a Comment
As I look ahead to my sabbatical year, I hope to have so many projects ready for attention that it is neither regenerative nor focused. So, I’m very excited to announce that I will be editing a book with my colleague Kyle Conway in the University of North Dakota’s Department of English. Titled The Bakken Goes Boom, the book will bring together many of the leading academic voices on recent events associated with the oil boom in the Bakken. We have a snazzy website here.
The most exciting thing about it is that the book will be produced in collaboration with a graduate seminar called “Communication and the Rural Community”. You can check out the syllabus here. The students will help us evaluate the contributions, edit them, and have the opportunity to contribute to the volume themselves. Kyle is also hoping to arrange a trip to the Bakken with the class.
Here is the Call for Papers:
The Bakken Goes Boom: Oil and the Changing Geographies of Western North Dakota. Edited by William Caraher and Kyle Conway
In less than five years, western North Dakota has changed so dramatically that many long-time residents no longer recognize it. High oil prices and new mining techniques have made the region, which sits on top of the rich Bakken oil formation, an exciting place to be. While the rest of the U.S. economy has lagged, North Dakota’s has boomed. People have flocked to state in search of a better life, and cities such as Williston and Watford City have doubled or tripled in size.
The editors of The Bakken Goes Boom are soliciting essays on topics related to the oil boom and its impact on the geography and communities of western North Dakota. The book will address topics from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives. Its intended audience includes not only scholars but residents of western North Dakota, newcomers to the area, and policy-makers in Bismarck, all of whom are trying to understand the changes the state is undergoing.
Potential topics to address include (but are by no means limited to):
- History: how does this boom resemble or differ from oil booms of the past?
- How does the boom fit into the larger history of the state?
- What are the benefits/cost of the boom (social, economic, environmental, etc.)?
- How have man-camps changed the physical and social landscape of western North Dakota?
- Patterns of migration: where are people coming from, and where are they settling?
- How are newcomers using social media to stay connected to home or to build ties with North Dakota?
- What are the environmental advantages/drawbacks of hydraulic fracturing (fracking)?
- What legal questions does petroleum exploration raise?
- What impact do international geopolitics (for instance, the negotiations about the potential Keystone Pipeline) have on western North Dakota?
Submissions of 5,000 to 8,000 words (formatted following the 16th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style) should be sent to the editors, William Caraher (william dot caraher at und dot edu) and Kyle Conway (kyle dot conway at und dot edu) by February 28, 2014. They should be in .odt, .rtf, .doc, or .docx formats.
The Bakken Goes Boom will be published by the Digital Press of the University of North Dakota, a new project run by the UND Working Group in Digital Humanities. It will undergo peer review, and it will be distributed in both electronic and paper formats. The expected publication date is Fall 2014.
The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota